I broke one of my cardinal rules--I went and ate at a restraunt in town on Sunday, close to the noon hour.
And I will tell you right now, and most seriously--if you are easily offended, or dislike a frank and angry diatribe against religion and/or hipocrites, stop reading now and come back tomorrow. You have been warned. *S*
You see, we live under the buckle of the Bible Belt down here. In the deep South there's not much to do on the best of days, and ever since they outlawed cock fighting and sleeping with your kinfolk, people hereabouts have been desperate for things to do on Sundays other than beating the wife and working on that old junker washing machine in the front yard. And of course, going to church has become The Big Thing. Well, actually it became the next big thing back when this was a French fur trading camp, but that's neither here nor there.
And nicely enough, Sundays mornings in the area are the best days for driving. The streets are empty until about 9am, which is the big To Church rush hour, then it's dead as the streets of Laredo until just after noon, which is when every church in the state lets out.
So. Let's divide the field up, shall we? On the one hand we have the Baptists, who don't go out to eat after services because services last until well into the afternoon, and after services you darn well better be going back home and working some more, for the glory of Gawd.
The Scientologist Church...well heck, I don't even know if they meet on Sundays, and if they did I'd think that all they do after services is go home and have a handfull of vitamins and chat with their child brides.
The Lutherans stay after services to have a pot-luck dinner every Sunday, where they eat Tuna Hotmelt and lutefisk, so they don't affect the ranks of Sunday diners, either.
The one synagogue around here? I didn't even know we had one until just a few years ago, so I assume the good Jewish folk of the city do things that only good Jewish boys and girls do after their services. What this involves is utterly beyond me, but I'm sure it involves little round hats and full beards.
So now that we've divided the field a little, let's start where I really intend to start--with The Catholics, since I was raised to be one and didn't get over it until I was 18.
If you're Catholic in town, you have three options for Mass--The Cathedral, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, or Saint Rita's. There's more, but they don't count. If you go to The Cathedral, then you're of retirement age. It's a lovely cathedral, smallish as far as those sorts of things go, but nice, and is almost as old as the town, which is saying something. The clientelle go there simply to make sure they aren't dead yet, because if they make it to Sunday Mass they can be snooty and look down at the folks who didn't manage to make it, on account of being dead. For after-mass lunch these octogenerians usually pile into their old school Cadillacs and Lincoln Town Cars and go to the nicer restraunts in town, where they will complain quietly to themselves that food isn't as good as it used to be.
OLPS is the mid-level church, but still attracts it's share. They get the Lincoln Navigators, the H2s, and all the upper middle class, who show up to see and be seen. The Church is big, subdued, and modern as of 30 years ago, which is just how they like it. They've got a Monsignor and everything, and there's vicious infighting from the altar boys on up, almost like a corporation. You see, if you're going to Be Anyone in the Church without becoming a priest you have to start in grade school as an altar boy. From there you work your way up through the ranks of Altar Decorating Committees and Lay Persons until you get to stand beside The Big Man hisself and do things like hold his glasses. After Mass you go to the nicer middle class restraunts in your suit with your loud kids and you whine about how much everything costs while your Hummer sits in the parking lot and siphons gas out of the other car's tanks.
If you're going to St. Rita's then you simply can't afford to eat out anywhere, and go home for baloney sandwiches and lemonade, and NASCAR on the local channel. A life of poverty, chastity, service and humility? That's for the priests, not for the good Catholic folk of this town. They've got to hurry up and get in line at the steak-bar so they can get the best cuts first.
So we've got two-thirds of the Catholics out eating on Sundays, continuing the see-and-be-seen thing. The Catholics are more subdued about the whole shouting across restraunts and shaking hands thing, though. They're not nearly as effusive as:
The Pentecostals. Oh yes, kids, you've got it coming.
There Can Be Only One Pentecostal church in the city. I mean there's more, probably a dozen or so, but they're all brainwashed drones sent out by the one giant one that takes up most of a city block in one of the older, poorer sections of the city. And when I say most of a city block I am completely serious. It takes up Most Of A City Block. They've been steady buying the entire neighborhood, with the intention of driving out all the disreputable folk that clutter up their humility and piety. This church is so big they've got several devotional service areas, a massive bookstore, a theater where they perform The Messiah every year, replete with fireworks and sacrifical lamb slaughters, a DNA laboratory for cloning more Pentagoblins, and a helipad so that the Right Reverend Money Falls Out My Arse can be lowered through the shuttered roof in a blast of light and noise for his grand entrance three times a weekend. There are more beehives and duck's tails on top of heads than you can shake a stick at, and not a speck of makeup nor a high heel to be found.
And of course if you want to hold an impromptu car show on Sundays, all you have to do is walk through the mile long parking lot. Every Corvette, Land Rover and Porsche within 175 miles will be parked there, because if you Have Money you attend this church. When you cross the street the Sheriff's Deputy who is playing crossing guard will happily accept a neatly folded $20, which will earn you protection from pigeons while you're inside pressing the flesh with the other nobs, and keep the riff-raff from touching your new carnuba hand-wax.
And when service is over (and I don't even WANT to know what happens inside that giant white edifice,) you and your wife with her very plain face and her very large ass will waddle out to the car and drive to whatever restraunt you have chosen, and your children will pile into the back of the Tahoe looking like so many little axe murderers and potential hookers. I swear, I have never seen young girls trying so hard to be whores as Pentecostal women. Apparently the rules don't apply to them until they hit 15 or so, but they've hit puberty five years back and are making up for all the days when they'll be wide-assed pasty-faced beehive-wearing prudes.
I guess the joy of being a Pentecostal out of that church is that after services you can go anywhere. You see, the upper-end restraunts in this little town don't have room to fit all of your wide asses in, but it's okay, because there's so stinking many of you that no matter what place you go to eat, there'll be three dozen of you already there, each ready to leap up, shout your name across the whole place, and SPEAK IN A VERY LOUD VOICE TO YOU like they didn't see you just ten minutes ago while you discreetly barked at the cop for letting a pigeon crap on the hood of your new Lotus.
And all of you came to The Oriental Wok yesterday. We beat you in by a few minutes, since we KNEW it'd be full after church let out, but then we found out that the smoking section is closed on Sundays because there's so damned many of you that you take over the entire place. So we sat and watched as you pompadoured husbands and you immensely fat, plain wives and the vacant-eyed boys and and even the slutty daughters paraded into the place, filling it up like soft serve pouring into a paper cup. And we ate our lunch while you all shouted at each other and shook hands and made a big show of seeing each other, and we watched as you did everything but sell your souls to each other over the dinner table. And we watched as you decided whether or not you'd need two chairs to hold up your ass while you ate, one for each cheek, and we watched as your wrinkled-up face and prune-like mouth got more and more sour as you realised that your waitress was not coming back very soon, because she was waiting on a dozen more tables, full of people just like you.
And we finally finished our meal, and I for one took my time over my iced tea, because I knew it would make the scores of you standing in the lobby staring out over our heads, waiting for a table, more and more jealous. Childish I know, but fun. And when we left I reminded myself once again why I spend my Sundays doing housework or cutting the lawn or doing ANYTHING but going to church or to eat.
I'll worship in my own way, thanks.