Church Bulletin

Dear Parishioners:

As you know, the assault on marriage and the family continues. We must be ever vigilant in our defense of this most holy and unchanging union.  Therefore, next week we will work to thwart the redefinition of marriage by celebrating “Traditional Marriage Sunday” which will take place immediately following Sunday services.  I hope that you will join me for this most important event. 
But who says discrimination has to be boring? Not us! We’ve lined up some fun and educational activities to showcase “Traditional Marriage”. Here are just a few zany highlights:

·         Arrange my marriage!:  Do you have a single daughter?  Are you concerned about her future?  Then join us while our esteemed organist, Miss Rapture plays her own rendition of “Single Ladies” on the Wurlitzer as we pull photos from a boy grab bag and girl grab bag to arrange the perfect marriage!  This one is sure to fill up quickly so please add your progeny’s name to the sign-up list and bring a 5X7 photo with your child’s name written in indelible ink on the back.

·         Count the Wives:  Think you know how many wives each biblical man had?   The rules are simple, we give you a name. You shout out a number.  Easy peasy right? But wait: one is rarely the answer. How many wives did Solomon have? Don’t even get us started, LOL!

·         Take my widow… Please? Have a childless, widowed Sister-In-Law?   Join this discussion group and help a sister out.  Are you confused by Leviticus and Deuteronomy’s conflicting advice on the subject?  Marry her; don’t marry her, what’s a brother to do? We’ll discuss the finer points and bring a conclusion to this interesting and perplexing conundrum.

·         Medieval Marriage Cake Walk: Political intrigue!  Secrets!  War! Royalty!  Are you a pawn, a knight, a king or a queen?  (not that kind…LOL)  This game will be sure to please and enlighten you to the mystery of medieval marriages when women were sold like property to create strategic political alliances.  Sound like chess?  It is!  If you get check-mate then you’re going home with one of Miss Lou Ann’s tasty wedding cakes!
Now all of this tom foolery in the name of good old fashioned values will be sure to leave you famished.  You’ll be pleased to know that Miss Green’s delicious shrimp salad will be for sale and now for the surprise news…. Chick-Fil-A will serve chicken sandwiches dripping in their brand new Antigé sauce!  Sounds French, but you’ll forgive them for that when you try this new devilishly hot sauce that puts the “ate” back in hate!

Now, brothers and sisters some serious news; As you know there were some unfortunate photos that have surfaced of yours truly while I attempted to help some errant sheep get back over their fence.  Miss Brown will be selling her beautiful cotton poly blend smocks to help raise funds for my court battle with PETA.  You will love these dresses, stains don’t stick, they stay miraculously clean.
So come on out! (Unless you’re gay)

The most Reverend Whatawaste


The Plan

Paul has a plan.

He always has a plan. This is one of the things that I love about him. Without provocation, he says “Huh, that’s a cute idea” as if I can hear the conversation taking place in his head, which is another thing I love about him. He thinks that I can read his mind.

“What?” I say, proving that I cannot indeed, read his thoughts.

“The Powerball lottery is now three hundred million dollars. We’ll pass through eight states on our drive home. Let’s stop and buy a ticket in each one,” he says.

This makes me very happy. We are going to drive seven hundred miles; eleven hours in the car and this plan makes me happy. Perhaps I cannot read his mind, but surely he can read mine.

We have come to Virginia to move my oldest daughter into her off campus apartment. I am such a fool. I thought that because I had already experienced the pain of separation when my ex-wife left with my daughters the first time that this would not be difficult. But last night’s parting loops through my mind like a broken record.

Walking through her apartment, I search for things left undone. The trash needs to be taken out. The nightlights need to be plugged in. “Make sure you keep that window in your bedroom locked.” I tell her. But it is of no use, if I look hard enough I will always find things left undone.

“I will Dad. I don’t want you guys to leave.” She says holding her arms out, signaling that it is time for us to leave. I pull her to me and hold on, inhaling the scent of her. Not the soap she uses, or the shampoo, but the scent that parents love when they smell the top of a baby’s head; because it is a part of themselves.

When I let go and look up, I see Paul’s face. He wears an upside down smile and his eyes answer my question.

“OK, I’m leaving now, goodbye.” I say looking away.

As I walk to the car, a part of me reflexively expects Katherine to follow shouting “Daddy, wait” because this is what would occur when as a child she tarried. I would say the exact words “OK, I’m leaving now, goodbye” and make an exaggerated exit like a vaudevillian actor.

This time, she does not follow.

We wake up early the next morning and begin our trip home. We stop to fill up the car with gas and purchase our first lottery ticket in Virginia. The day is wrapped in promise as the slanted early morning sun shines through the car windows.

“Will we change anything when we win?” I ask as I turn to face Paul in the driver’s seat.

“You know I don’t think that way.” He says looking straight ahead.

But as our cache of lottery tickets grows we begin to discuss what we will do with the winnings. We would most certainly keep working, but just until we get pissed off by some transgression at work, which is estimated to take fifteen minutes, tops. Paul would purchase a Bentley automobile and I would become a full time writer. We begin to mentally cancel upcoming social engagements because we’ll be busy meeting with our financial advisors and accountants.

The evening light is golden as we make our final stop thirty minutes west of Boston to buy our last lottery ticket. In no time at all we are home.

Of course you know that we did not win the lottery. But that was not the plan. Turns out that Paul can read my mind. He knew that eight tickets, a mere sixteen dollars, would be enough to keep my mind occupied during the eleven hour car ride home; to keep me from thinking about things left undone.

Paul had a plan.

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The F-Bomb

“Don't use the F-word in your writing.”  My mother said peering over her glasses.

I recognized the all too familiar look on her face.  It was the one she used for things such as, oh, the discovery of “nasty” magazines stuffed between my mattress and box spring.   But I was an adult man in my forties now and if I wanted to use the F-bomb, then fuck it, I would use it.

“I agree with your mother.” Paul blurted out.  I shot him a look that said we’d deal with this act of treason later.
“Well, if you do use it, it should be reserved for punctuation.”  He said smiling nervously, his index finger making an imaginary exclamation point. His eyes were darting between me and my mother, trying to move us somewhere into the middle.  But I wouldn’t budge.
“This is the way people talk.  I’m just trying to keep it real.”   I said doing my best what-what? thug body pose.
“You don’t talk that way. I taught you better.”  My mother said, and she was right.  I don’t talk that way.  But that was not the point.  The point was that I was being told by my seventy three year old mother that I should not do something.  She should have learned by now that if she told me not to do something I would pursue it with fucking gusto.
But every time I started to write, I found that I could not use the word.
“There are a plethora of substitutes: ‘Darn it’, ‘Gosh’ and if you want to give it a British flare, how about ‘Bloody’?”  Paul said trying to be helpful.
“Right. That is just bloody brill!”  I replied sarcastically.  I had not forgiven him for siding with my mother and added “Why should I listen to someone who uses the fucking word plethora anyway?”
As a writer, I wanted to feel free to express my thoughts, emotions and experiences without feeling that a censor was looking over my shoulder.  But my mother’s “tsk-tsk” echoed in my brain.  Using the f-bomb made me feel less literary and more trailer-trash, looking for a cheap laugh with a fart joke.
And then I picked up The New Yorker magazine.  Right there in the middle of the magazine was an essay that had not one, but three F-bombs in it, four if you included wtf.   It also included the term dick-slapped, but I thought that might be pushing things a bit.  And besides, I wasn’t sure if being dick-slapped was a good thing or a bad thing.  I mean, I could see both sides.
This was irrefutable proof that using the F-bomb was not only acceptable, but might actually help to get me published more widely.   So, by my count I’ve used the word three times in this post, four if you include wtf....which I have just used again.
The New Yorker should be calling me any minute, but my mother is going to be so fucking pissed.

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The Science of Waves

At night while lying in bed I could feel the phantom undertow of the ocean: pull and release, pull and release, pull and release.

We would sleep with the windows open and listen to the ocean crash in the distance never knowing if the sea would be calm or rough the next morning and never understanding or questioning why.  It simply was.  My brothers and I would wake early, eat our breakfast as quickly as possible, wait the obligatory thirty minutes mandated by my mother and then run down the boardwalk from our rental beach house and through the still cool powdery sand.
Hesitating for a moment, one of us would then take the lead and run headlong into the cold water and the rest would follow.  We would float in the sea like bell buoys occasionally shouting out “This one looks like a good one!” and quickly paddle either towards or away from the wave. If it turned out to be promising we would turn towards shore and swim to catch the swell and ride on top of it, millions of tiny air bubbles fizzing around us.   The excitement of the ride was tempered by the realization that a wave could suddenly become too strong and plunge us underwater rolling us head over heels along the sandy bottom and causing us to inhale the burning salty water through our noses.  And so as a child, I became the ocean’s flotsam and jetsam for a week every summer on the outer banks of North Carolina.
One of the last visits to the beach with my father stretched from one week to two.  His intent was to shield us from the wave of publicity back home surrounding his disbarment as an attorney.  Just as I could not see the wave behind the current one, I did not see the financial ruin of our family on the horizon and my father’s name splashed across the newspapers.
I did not know or understand the science of waves as a child.  That a disturbance created by the air brushing against the water from as far away as one thousand miles could create a wave that I could not see until it threatened to topple me.
When I became a father I tried to teach my girls how to ride the waves. When they were little, I would pick them up and hold them close as we ventured into the water.  They trusted me then, as I used to trust my father to never let go.
But a wave is circular.  It wants to return and if you are not prepared the undertow created can pull your feet from under you and with your arms so full it can be impossible to maintain your balance.
My beautiful daughters are college age now and looking down from the crest of a wave in the same ocean I see that they have survived; best to stop pulling them towards me now and learn how to release.
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