On Sunday, I went to church.
Church of Latter Day Saints, that is.Singles ward
, Dear Reader. To fucking entertain YOU
, of course.
Suffice it to say, I was wayyy out of my element. Not only was I in a church
with very few minorities
, I was in a church on the Upper East Side
—which is like a Bizarro, upside-down version of the Upper West
I looked so sketchy there. I've got a gun tattooed on my arm, for fuck sake. Not talking to anyone. All on my own. Hugging my bag. Surrounded by buttoned-up, blond Aryans. Scared shitless. It was pretty clear I had no business being there. I probably looked like I was smuggling heroin in from Turkey. I might as well have been wearing clown makeup and juggling knives.
You would have laughed. Oh, you would have laughed.
An older, Hispanic-looking man sat down next to me as the ceremony began. One of the few minorities there. I wondered if They
spotted me and sent him out special to "help" me. He handed me a hymn book as people began to sing; let me look on as I clearly had no idea what page people were on. (On so many levels.)
The ceremony was surprisingly reminiscent of the Catholic masses I grew up on. Not so much up-and-down, call-and-response, though.
Hymns were sung. Speakers would go up to the podium to talk about how the religion changed their lives in meaningful ways. The first speaker was this pretty girl who seemed terrified of public speaking. Not helped by how quiet everyone remained throughout. No applause or "amens". To agree with some sentiment, people silently raised their hands.
One thing that struck me: the pretty young things in attendance actually seemed RESTLESS sitting there. In my own prejudiced mind, I'd imagined a roomful of neatly pressed All-Americans sitting there with cartoon hearts for eyes, hanging onto every word of the ceremony...
On the contrary, people were quietly chatting with each other throughout. Texting on their phones. Zoning out for the poorer speakers. Yes, there were some cartoon-hearted, including the Hispanic man next to me. But for the most part, it seemed like a bunch of kids whose parents made them go.
At a key part in the ceremony, young men brought out these handled-plates filled with what looked like tiny cubes of yellow pound-cake. These were passed down the rows; people would eat one and pass the plate on. I regarded the cake as if it were made of poison. As if it wasn't enough
of a mockery that I was sitting in on this meeting, I most certainly was NOT going to partake of their holy pound-cake!
After the cake, another set of handled-plates was passed around: these filled with vials of (what appeared to be) water. Again, I was careful not to touch it. Sure that it would leave me with third-degree burns if I did. And how much more did I really need to stand out?
As the hour came to a close, I had my eye trained on the exits. The older Hispanic man smiled at me. "Your first time?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied. Almost wanting to say more, for his benefit. But I decided that it was enough.
And again, that question: WHY?
A few reasons...
An unnamed friend had encouraged me to go, suggesting that it was a good place to meet some nice, desperate women. I didn't really expect to meet someone there, but I'd put off going for so many weeks, I got the idea that my unnamed friend was probably beginning to think that I was too chickenshit to ever actually go. Which qualifies as a dare, which means I had
to go. No question.
Secondly, this is the sort of shit I do. Every so often, I force myself to go way the fuck out of my comfort zone. What's life without awkward new experiences?