I grew up in a family that attended our local Catholic church regularly. Each Sunday my parents piled the kids in the car and sometimes we took two cars depending if my older sisters wanted to drive also. Either way we’re all going to church and it was our weekly family obligation. My dad sung in the choir so usually we sat alone with my mother. Although I never minded going to service at all, I actually found it a fun place to be.
Summers in our church were horrid, however. We had no air conditioning and there were only a few oscillating fans that sprayed a light breeze across our sweating brows. If I was able to plan things properly as we walked to our seats as a family, I tried to make it so I was the last person to sit. I’m not very keen about feeling restricted by a wall of humans so I always dawdled. I needed to wind up sitting at the end of the pew. Our church was hot and I got bored easily. The end seat helped to find more things to do.
I really did try to focus on the mass but it never took long for my mind to go astray. It happened in almost every school class room and church was not much different. I remember these day-dreaming services very well. There was a time where the entire congregation was on their feet and I fell asleep standing up. We were positioned in the front 3rd of the church. A lot of people were behind me. When I snapped out of it, I looked around at the people in front of me all sitting like good church goers should be doing. I glanced over my shoulder and every one behind me was sitting also. People were staring at me. “What are you fools looking at? Haven’t you ever seen a kid stretching his legs before?” Of course, I sat back down immediately. What to do now because the priest is eyeballing me again!
“Here comes my buddy from football. Great, because now I have something important to do! He’s coming down the aisle any second now,” I schemed. Sometimes you can make obnoxious faces to get them to burst open, laughing out loud in church. As we got older, friends become wise to that one. It’s time to improvise and be more crafty than the fox him self. I think, “If I glance at him when he’s far away from me and I look away, he won’t think anything else is up here.” Ah hah, got him going now! I turn my head away and I am smiling, pretending that I am about ready to burst out laughing. And that happened many times before. From the corner of my eye, I have him totally on radar. When he steps parallel to me my foot is right there ready to meet his. All you have to do is hide your foot on the inside corner of the base of the seating. He can’t see what your foot is really up too.
You have to catch the person in-step or they will recover so perform this maneuver perfectly. It works well, trust me. Timing and the element of surprise are the keys to any sport. You snag his foot while he’s in the process of moving forward. His momentum alone will break his stride. Catching his foot is not enough so you need to make sure your foot moves forward and up near around his ankle. This creates a lock so when he tries to drive his leg forward he’s totally snared by the trap. He’s cooked, tripped up to the maximum in front of 150 praying worshipers. Doh! I’ve seen guys fall flat on their faces. Yes, some of the people sitting behind see why he trips but the majority do not have a clue.
However, the priest always seems to know what’s up. Heck, he sits there and stares at me for 1 hour, start to finish. I don’t like that but sometimes you just glare back until he looks away. That’s when you can shift your focus upon the pretty older girl sitting in the seat in front of you. Back in the day, girls would take considerable care in curling their hair with a curling iron before they went out in public. There’s something about long, sexy, curly hair dangling behind a church pew that drives me crazy. I love it especially when I am 13-years old and she is around 17 or 18-years old. Perfect! “I wish this cute older girl would turn around and look at me.” Well if she’s going to play Miss Prudish then I’ll just have to get her attention.
No head of hair is perfect and there are always a few strays for the taking. Focus your attention on only one stray hair at a time and work from that premise. Do your due diligences and recon first. Mom is sitting very near by so when the opportunity is ripe, be quick and stealthy. Reach out in front of you quickly and grab a hold of it tightly. Never take your eye off the ball. Not for a single second or your pinching fingers will go astray. Then you just quickly pluck one of those stray hairs from her scalp. Get your hands back on a choir book that you’re just holding for show, or twist at your watch. It’s even better if you can snap your hands underneath your thighs in a heart beat.
At first, the pretty girl in the summer dress thinks that maybe it is a pesky fly taunting her scalp. There were many flies in our church in the summer time. The doors all open so why not, eh? You wait a minute for her mind to be redirected back to the service and duplicate your effort. “Pluck another one!” Soon she learns what is going on and turns her head quickly to try to catch me. “It’s not me girly,” as I am trying my damnedest to not burst out laughing. I’m looking at the gorgeous artwork on the ceiling. My eyes are saying, “My arched church cathedral is amazing.” I can hardly hold in the intense laughter that is building within me.
This process could go on 5-6 times easily depending upon the girl sitting in front of you. Each time the girl becomes more and more agitated and her glares more intense. “Wow. She’s really getting angry about this,” I observed! That’s when you attack with alarming speed. The split second she faces forward again you pluck out another. She’s not expecting Pearl Harbor. No way. The past times I waited a minute or two. Bam, and I got her again. Gosh she is so cute when her nostrils are flaring out in anger. It’s even better when it’s that time in the mass when you get to shake hands with everyone around you. “Peace be with you,” my pretty split end baby. Maybe you can give her a shoulder shrug and eye contact that tells her, “I don’t know what’s going on here?” There is a church troll running amuck. I will help you find him.
As far as the balding older girls in the yummy summer church dresses from those days, we stood outside after mass was over. There was always great eye contact taking place. She is with her family chatting to friends and me with my kin talking with other friends. She’s quiet and I am also. The girl is giving me the nastiest of looks but I can see that she is trying hard not to smile. Her eyes tell me she wants to start laughing but that would be giving in to me. I guess she doesn’t’ want me to know I had her attention. I just smile back at her. I wouldn’t know what to say to her anyway because I’ve always been the quiet type; the Eddie Haskell “What did I do now” attitude made famous on the early 1960s sitcom “Leave it to Beaver.” All I can really do is to inform her with my eyes; “I’ll see you next Sunday in church.”
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