my school, st. antoninus, didn’t have a lot of good choices of priests at this point in my catholic school career. the old one was father hagedorn – he was probably 107 years old, shook uncontrollably, smacked his lips a lot, and paused too long and too often. father mick was no better – he was probably 21, a little too chummy with the guys and waaay too physical with the girls – we didn’t care for him and it was obvious that he was either on the lam or made too hasty a decision to enter the priesthood.
my best friends and i did our best to keep it as low key as possible but still eke some fun out of the experience. we sit together each week against better judgement but up to this point we’ve not gotten into too much trouble.
catholic church, in and of itself, has always been a boring thing for me. too pious, too organy, too… churchy, i guess. and when we had to go with our grade each week, oh, sheer torture! what’s worse: being in CLASS or being in CHURCH – haha, it’s a hard choice!
so picture this: four 14 year old guys: ken. brian. tony. scott. it’s spring. thursday morning. eighth grade church. front row. bored. hyms. father hagedorn. jesus hanging on the cross. robes. solemnity. holy water. communion. sit. stand. kneel. stand. sit.
and when the next hymn started up, my friend tony had apparently had enough.
we’re singing this hymn and this garbled noise starts coming from my left. it sounded like… a cat stuck in a washer? no. a record being played backwards! YES! that’s it!!
i and my other friends look at tony and he has his hymnal turned UPSIDE DOWN and is singing… backwards.
i’m not sure who started laughing first, but it was SO FUNNY. oh, we tried so hard to stop, but there was no place for the laughter to go. we grabbed our faces, nudged tony, laughed and hoped no one noticed. then, since we couldn’t stop, we started singing backwards, too. and laughed even harder.
we were lucky – no one came over and smacked us or told us to stop. we managed to get ourselves together enough that we got through the service and back to class in one piece. short bursts of laughter still plagued us during the day, but we were ok.
and then. at the end of the day. the very end of the day… we came back into our homerooms and sitting on our desks? THREE DETENTIONS EACH. signed by the director of catholic education for our school. he had been sitting in one of the wings of the church, hidden, and had seen everything.
and church, my friends, was NOT where we were to be goofing off and screwing around!
was it worth it? oh, when you can still laugh almost to the point of tears 26 years later – it’s definitely worth it.