123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mistletoe and Holly Rollers

Our neighbors already have their Christmas tree up. I think it's a bit early considering we haven't even celebrated the Pagan holiday of Halloween yet, kids.

But, they're a nice African family that has converted to a loud, arm-waving form of Christianity. I know this because every Wednesday and Sunday their rejoicing can be heard from, oh, at least half a block away, where JennyJenny8675309 and I live.

Every other night of the week, though, they tone it down a bit, and I can only hear them when I take Wonder Dog Bean for her evening poopscapade. "Hellabejembala! Zerefuzinustikana! Lalalabamba! Heefrontigrajubinatia!" sails out of their windows as they celebrate.

I don't mean to eavesdrop, but they congregate at the dining room table in front of their windows right next to the Christmas tree, holding hands and speaking in tongues. I can't help but listen.

I went to a Pentecostal church once, when I was about 12 years old. We were in Kentucky because my Aunt Jennifer, my Step-Mom's sister, was in the hospital. So, as my Step-Mom and the rest of the family visited with Jen, I stayed with relatives and family friends for safe keeping.

At one point, I spent a night or two with my Step-Mom's Best Friend, Becky, who is unquestionably a lovely woman. So when she drawled in her thick accent, "We'd just luuuuve for you to come to Sunday service with us," I didn't give it a second thought. In my house, after church we went to Bob Evans, so I was mostly excited about the biscuits and gravy I expected to follow.

In any case, that is how after many, many, many years of reserved Catholic masses, I ended up going to a Pentecostal church. No one told me what I might encounter, though I wish they would have.

I stood in awe, disbelief and fear as people next to me convulsed and collapsed and capitulated to Christ's love by screaming, shouting and spitting. Growing up, my friend David had Tourette's Syndrome, so I assumed we had gone to a "special" church for people like him. I thought it most polite if I just stayed still with my head down and tried not to stare.

But, the friendly Pentecostals would not have it that way. They invited me up to the alter for repentance.

"Go on. Jesus is waiting for you. Go free yourself from sin, 123Valerie. It's alright. Jesus loves you," Becky said.

Skinny, bird-legged 123Valerie slowly made her way to the carpeted alter as adults shuddered and shouted around me. I kneeled down and said, "God, I am sorry that I have ever made fun of mentally disabled people. If you get me out of this special church alive, I promise I will never, ever be mean to someone with challenges again."

And that was that. He got me out. Since then, I haven't made fun of people with mental disabilities or people with emotional issues, though I am fairly hard on people who drive Mini Coopers.

In the Comments section, tell me about an interesting religious experience you've had. The winner of the best story gets to help JennyJenny8675309 and I put up our Christmas decorations. Tomorrow.


  • At 3:10 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

    I went to a Mormon dance for people who'd graduated from college with the misfortune of remaining single. I think the whole point was to meet other Mormons, get married and make baby Mormons. It was fascinating.

  • At 3:32 PM , Blogger emertron said...

    I went to Purdue U for a year. Yeah, that's in Indiana. I taught kids to swim at the Y. One of the parents tried to convert me.

    I also went to Easter mass (with a boy I liked) at this new-age mega-church. Good thing I was still drunk from the night before.

  • At 3:39 PM , Blogger 123Valerie said...

    Good thing, indeed, Emmy.

    Kristin, my old boss was a Mormon--very straight-laced kind of cat, but he knew my single-girl woes and started to invite me to one of those dances but a second later said:

    "Oh, it's probably a waste of time if you're not willing to convert. No man there would want you otherwise."

    Well, now. Could you make me feel anymore like secular trash? I'd already decided it wasn't for me. No fun doing the Electric Slide sober.

  • At 9:27 PM , Blogger Flat Coke and Flies said...

    Well I grew up in the good ole Church of God of Prophecy. It was pentecostal based...singin, shoutin their shoes off, and speaking in tongues. Anyone who smokes, drinks, or cusses, is going to hell, oh and divorced people too. Looks like about 2 people will make it to heaven according to them, Mary and Jesus. I'm proud of my "raising" but I can see why it freaks most people out. HALLALUJAH!!! AMEN!!!! PRAISE BE TO BABY JESUS!!!!

  • At 10:20 PM , Blogger nolongermrsborell said...

    I will never forget the first Sunday night service at CCF. I had never seen anythinglike that before. Rolling ing the isles, running around like they were crazy. Singing and dancing! It was pretty damn funny to me!!

  • At 5:20 PM , Blogger Johnny said...

    Sometimes I tell the big guy to put cheerleaders on at half time.

    And then he delivereth.


  • At 7:36 PM , Blogger Grampa said...

    "I saw an eight hundred foot Jesus in Tulsa, Oklahoma."


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