I should have known I was in trouble stepping in to church when I sat down and my friend Matt whispered into my ear, "Of all days, you picked TODAY to come?"
See, at the church we've been going to, the pastor takes the month of July off, so they have members of the congregation lead the mass, rather than bringing in a stunt pastor for four weeks. I guess it's kind of like the difference between bloggers and journalists...it becomes a kind of grab bag, rather than a steady stream of professionalism. In some cases, you might get "The Bitchin' Wives Club." In other cases, you get...well, my blog.
In any event, the person at the pulpit was someone Corb and me like to call Mrs. Flanders. Think of the Simpsons and you'll know why...her husband leads Bible study and has a loud booming bass voice. I can easily see him saying things like "Okaly dokaly." She's a high-pitched, nervous, shrill kind of thing. I can just imagine living next door to them.
True to form, Mrs. Flanders delivered a high-pitched, nervous, and shrill kind of mass. At one point she made us listen to her sing "On Eagle's Wings." "That way you can really hear the lyrics when I sing all of them" she said.
Only problem was, her voice was so shrill, I couldn't really hear much of anything.
Then it came time for her sermon.
Fifteen minutes into it, Corb wrote on my program, "This is really long."
Twenty-five minutes into it, Corb wrote on my program, "This is really really long."
Thirty-five minutes into it, Corb wrote, "The state senator at my high school graduation didn't talk this long."
Forty-five minutes into it, Corb wrote, "Kill me now."
And then came the slide show.
No, I'm not kidding. I was just kidding about 45 minutes (it just felt that long), but not about this.
A slide show. I don't think I've actually ever seen a slide show during a sermon. I had one today. Oh, and by the way, before seeing it, we had to wait for the screen to be set up and the laptop to be connected. Oh, and the screen kept blowing because of the wind through the windows, making the screen all wavy. By the end of the whole thing, I was seasick.
In my opinion, sermons should kind of be like the midgets in the Wizard of Oz: short and colorful. They should be witty and to the point and leave you with a pleasant feeling in your head whenever you think about them. Remember, preachers: the mayor of Muchkin City didn't deliver a long speech when he was asked to speak.
And he didn't give slide shows.
After that, we went on our weekly trek to Wal-Mart, to pick up our groceries for the week.
The past few weeks, we've ended up with Hektor as our cashier. Hektor's about 25 and six foot two, and could almost be considered good looking, if he didn't come out with the strangest things while he rings up. One week he told us all about the metal plate he had surgically removed in his knee. Last week, he didn't say a word, until the end, when he looked at us and said, "I'm hungry."
I wasn't sure exactly what to say. Was he looking for me to offer him one of the ice cream sandwiches we just paid for?
This time around, it was kind of slow at Wally World, so the cashier next to him helped him bag. She looked to be about six months pregnant.
Halfway through the bagging, he turned to me and said, "We have a survee we want you to take."
"A what?" I asked.
"A survee," he said. "You know, a survee!"
I paused for a moment, thinking. "You mean, a survey?"
"Yes, yes. A survee! So, can you tell me, is a baby able to be born with a vagina and a peenis?"
I looked at Corb for a minute, kind of surprised. I think it was the first time in my life I had ever have had a cashier who used the words penis and vagina in a sentence. I'm more used to "paper or plastic," not "penis and vagina."
"Is a baby able to be born with..."
Hektor nodded vigorously. "With a peenis and a vagina, jes!"
I kind of laughed. "Well, yes, I suppose it is. That would be a hermaphrodite. Usually though, the baby has one set of prominent sexual organs on the outside, but on the inside..."
Hektor pointed to the other cashier's stomach and laughed. "See? Peenis and a vagina!"
"We could have reported him, you know," said Corb, as we were walking out. "That whole conversation was so inappropriate."
"But totally entertaining!" I laughed. "You'd never get a conversation like that at Stop and Shop, let me tell you."
"He could have been fired."
"That would be a shame. Hey, what if he really is taking a survee?" I asked. "There was that old lady with all that cat food behind us...can you imagine the look on her face?"
I tell you, our weekly dose of Wal-Mart. It's more fun than pro wrestling!