This is the second installment in what is starting to feel like a large series of rambles based upon my Spiritual Misadventures during my never-ending quest to “find myself”(part one can be found here for reference) – I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them. I sometimes forget how funny my real life is/was…
That first Mass/Meeting/Class I went to was something else, man. I think the last time I had been in a Catholic Mass was when my father and I flew back to Rockland County for his father’s funeral, in December of 1988. I passed out from the combo-platter of the previous evening’s beer/Jameson’s/Valium, and the never-ending sensing the Priest was doing in my general direction. My cousin Jodi had to drag me outside and put my face into the snow, so that I could snap the fuck on out of it.
Historical Interlude – we had a service for my own father in that very same church in January of 2006. Life is weird, man. Weird.
Basically, we all met up in this cat’s condo in North Phoenix. Humble little place, pretty low-key and all that. Cindy and I drove in together – I met her at her place, and I left my truck over there. Cindy promised me I would not be too weirded out, and that I would probably learn a thing or two.
This is the part of the story when I have to start using fake names, because I do not want to call anyone out or fuck with anyone’s livelihood. That just isn’t how I roll, you know? That being said, from here on out, I will refer to the “leader” cat as Reverend Sassypants, since he took his position so highly that he had to take every opportunity to try and make himself appear smarter or more evolved than everyone else. Which, upon reflection, is exactly what a “cult” leader should do, isn’t it?
We get up to the door, and Cindy knocks.
I was weirded out the second the fucking door opened.
Almost as freaked out as this makes me feel. For real.
Reverend Sassypants is standing there, in full Liturgical Vestments, with a Pope-ish hat resting on his dome. He’s a stout little bastard, looks kind of like an actor who would play a shrink or maybe a literature professor. Before I can even enter through the doorway, he is already cupping his hand around my shoulder in that half-hug/pull-you-into-my-lair type of way that makes me very uncomfortable.
“Welcome, Sean. We’re very excited to have you here with us tonight, as we’ve heard a lot about you. My goodness, you have such presence! I can feel your vibration so deeply. So glad to have you!”
I didn’t feel dirty as much as I felt kind of confusingly comfortable, as the good Reverend was quite charming. Warm, even. He asked me how long it had been since I had gone to a Catholic Mass, and I told him it had been about a decade. When I jokingly asked him if this was going to turn out poorly, like some oddball Rosemary’s Baby type of scenario, he just giggled and guffawed like nobody’s business.
“Quick-witted. I like it! We need a good smartass in the group.”
After a few minutes, the rest of the group starts to slowly arrive. My observation skills immediately hone in on the fact that they all seem to have that downtrodden, overlooked-by-the-world look in their eyes. It was like a secret meeting of The Nervous Shuffling Feet Gang – everyone shaking hands with me upon being introduced, without a single one of them making direct eye contact.
Obviously, I was an interloper.
All of us get summoned into The Holy Oratory, which is basically a back bedroom which has been converted into a space with an altar, the altar vessels, representations of four Archangels(Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel), and all of the other accoutrements one would find in a Catholic church. Even though we were in a small room in someone’s condo, it certainly felt like being in church.
Reverend Sassypants and his assistant, who will from this point forward be referred to as Moustache McGhee(he had a killer ’70s porn ‘stache going on, which when coupled with his overall creepiness – really, this guy is someone I need to explore as a character for later use) – they just jumped right on into the whole shebang right quick-like. I had no real serious background with Catholicism, as I felt more in tune with my Hebrew blood(which the good Reverend was always keen to point out at every fucking chance he got). All that kneeling and chanting, coupled with all of the frankincense and myrrh* filling up the room, well, that shit kind of did a number on my monkey ass.
*I, being a smart and nosy little bastard, came to figure out all on my lonesome why the frankincense and myrrh were so important in the ritual itself. Just file away that knowledge for later – it’ll come in handy, I promise.
After making it through the Mass itself, which was all done in Latin, I felt a little bit refreshed. Definitely a little high from all of the sensory overload. And my interest was certainly rising, as it felt quite natural for me to be there. We all filed out of the room, and out into the sitting/living room area of the place. As we all took seats staggered throughout the room, I noticed everyone staring at me a little more – obviously trying to figure me out a little bit, which was understandable.
Rev. Sassypants told us he had put on a pot of coffee(which always makes me a happy participant in pretty much anything going on – I’m the kind of cat that would probably grab a free cup at a public execution if it was available), and that dinner would be served shortly. Everyone seemed quite pleased with this announcement,which was promising to me, as a home-cooked meal was not something I’d had in quite a while – unless you counted my drunken late-night drives to burrito stands home-cooked.
If you’ve never been to a Filiberto’s, you are missing out on some of the greasiest, most beautifully destructive of gastro-delights available to human beings 24/7 in the Southwest. Trust me on this one now, I am an expert.
My comfort level was steadily rising, what with fresh coffee, some awkward smiles, and being in a room full of fellow chainsmokers – which is always a good thing in my book. As we were all sitting there in our Mass afterglow, Rev. Sassypants decides it’s time to have everyone take turns asking me questions about myself, which seemed innocent enough to me at first…
To be continued…