I like to think of myself as a reasonably good Christian. I do good works; I went out to eat with Gina on Friday because she sounded sad. I’m the kind of person who will be glad to meet you at Wings any time and commiserate with you while eating my way through a mountain of cheesy fries. I’m a lot like Mother Theresa that way…I’m a giver. And I don’t hit my children (very often) and I don’t care whether or not their clothes are hung on wire hangers. As far as their religious development, all of my children have received the Sacraments in the appropriate order. And I attend Mass faithfully every Sunday, almost always.
Although about that Mass attendance….well, I do go every week and I pray when I am supposed to pray. Afterwards, I feel refreshed in my soul, like a good Christian should. And yet, at the same time, I am vaguely troubled after the service. Because I have a hard time paying attention during Mass. I go every week fully intending to listen carefully, fully ready to receive the words of wisdom so I can go forth and reflect upon them. But usually my good intentions are derailed almost immediately, because it’s so INTERESTING to see what everyone is wearing to church that day. Sometimes it’s downright jaw-dropping.
Now don’t get the wrong impression about me. I am certainly no fashonista. About the only fashion rule I follow is the ‘don’t wear white after Labor Day’ adage, and I only follow that one because I don’t wear much white anyway. If you ever eat at a Mexican restaurant with me, you’ll understand why immediately: I have a hard time conveying food to my mouth. Inevitably, somewhere along the way, the food falls off my fork and usually lands in the middle of my chest, leaving an unsightly smear in an inconvenient place. The only reason I have boobs is to keep food from sliding down into my lap. Just last week, I was sitting in my car, waiting for Mass to start and reading the paper, and I poured an entire Diet Coke down my front. Thank goodness I was wearing a black shirt. To wear white is just asking for trouble, so I stick with dark colors. It’s safer.
And as far as style goes, well, I have no style whatsoever. I have deep admiration for those women who can artfully drape a scarf, add a couple of bangles, and swoop out the door looking like Heidi Klum. Myself, I artfully put on a t-shirt, some sweatpants, add some colored socks, and swoop out the door looking like Maxine from the greeting cards. I like to call it Bag Lady Chic. I have dress sweatpants, just like everyone else, but I save them for special occasions like Baptisms, Bar Mitzvahs, and the occasional dinner out with the hubby. No sense in overdoing it; sweatpants are prone to pilling you know.
Anyway, this morning church was absolutely fascinating. I listened carefully to the homily, drifting only occasionally to ponder weighty matters like why Reese’s cups sometimes come with two brown wrappers instead of one. I ducked out during the collection, ostensibly to go to the bathroom, but actually to avoid feeling like a cheapskate when the collection basket came to me (I forgot the checkbook, alright???). During Communion, I went up prayerfully, filled with love and joy for all of humanity. But when I went back to my pew, the trouble started.
That’s where the trouble always starts. I like to sit in the front row, not because I think I will be more likely to behave by sitting there, but for the sheer unholy glee of being able to see everyone as they go up for Communion. This sin, alone, is enough to send me to Hell. I always come back to the pew with good intentions, promising myself I will NOT stare at people when they go up for Communion. I plan to pray for all those in need and for my own decaying, rotten soul. But inevitably, I find myself peeking out from beneath my lashes to watch people’s feet go by. I start with the feet because I can look at them without being obvious. And you can tell a lot about people from their feet and lower legs. After a few minutes of observing bunions and gnarly toenails, I find myself looking up to see what else is happening with people. And that’s when I lose the battle.
Just what in the world do people THINK when they get dressed for church in the morning?? I imagine that they spend Saturday evening in deep contemplation, staring into their closet, searching for the perfect outfit. And once it’s been located, they lay it out oh so carefully in order to get a jump start on their morning routine. And yet, despite all that careful contemplation, these people persist in coming to Mass dressed like either a) a hooker, b) a transvestite, c) a rock star, or d) a hooker transvestite rock star. There should be some fashion rules in place regarding proper Church attire and here they are:
1. No one under 12 should be allowed to wear sequins. Ever.
2. Just because it fit in the store doesn’t mean you should have purchased it.
3. Platform shoes never look right on women over 50.
4. Tight and low-cut = dead priest. Do not wear it to church unless it comes with a portable AED for reviving said priest.
5. Golf pants should be worn on the golf course only.
6. White…after Labor Day….really?? What, were you raised by wolves???
7. I have fat legs. I don’t wear high boots. Because women with fat legs don’t look right in high boots, especially when said boots are paired with a short skirt.
8. Thinking back to Christmas, those catalogs that sell matching family outfits? Bad idea. And if your husband consents to wear the matching plaid shirt, he’s probably gay and is having a fling with that Puerto Rican barista at Starbucks.
9. I was going to have ten rules, but I am running out of steam.
I think these rules should be printed in a pamphlet and that the US government should drop this propaganda in church parking lots across America. It’s for the good of humanity. It’s necessary to ensure the survival of the human race. If the government won’t do it, maybe the Pope could take it on as a service project, possibly in an attempt to deepen the spirituality of people like me. “And so 2011 will be the Year of Dressing Appropriately For Church….Let us pray….”
So what exactly did I see this morning? I’d like to say that I saw a stream of soberly dressed, contemplative pilgrims, streaming through the Communion line, looking like Puritans. Alas, it was not be this morning. Instead, imagine a really BAD spray tan, frosted hair, and purple, peep-toe, platform pumps. The alliteration ALONE should have warned her that they were a bad choice!! It’s hard to feel really spiritual when faced with an outfit of this magnitude. I had no choice but to STARE in open-mouthed, slack-jawed AMAZEMENT!! Any one of those elements alone would have been enough to consign her to the bowels of discount store Hell, but taken together, it was more than the average person could bear! All I know is that I may be going to Hell for being judgmental, but by golly, I will be dressed for the occasion….in my good sweatpants of course!