8:00 AM. It’s snowing. I think I’ll skip Mass today. Skipping church on Sunday is a mortal sin, says Father McGarrity. I’ll bet it’s not any kind of sin when it’s snowing. Maybe it’s not a sin to skip church, period. Father McGarrity could be wrong. On the other hand, what if he’s right? If I skip Mass today then get hit by a taxi and die, I could wind up in deep eternal doodoo. Okay then, I won’t take any chances. I’ll go to Mass. My eternal salvation will be valid for another week, to be automatically renewed next Sunday if it isn’t snowing and I don’t come up with any other big sins in the meantime.
9:00 AM. I arrive at church just as Mass is about to start. One of my boots has a hole in it and some slush has gotten inside. My toes are wet and that one foot goes slursh, slursh whenever I take a step. I have to walk past Father McGarrity, who gives me the look he usually reserves for people who only show up in church on Christmas and Easter. That look would melt steel. I shrink myself into my coat, slink into a pew, make a fast Sign of the Cross and pretend I’m invisible.
9:45 AM. Mass is over. I dodge Father McGarrity, but run smack into Philomena Ferrara. She practically forces me downstairs to the social room, where a bake sale and a raffle are just getting started. I end up buying two of Philomena’s anisette muffins. Her anisette muffins are like licorice flavored rubber. They make good door stoppers. Even the neighbor’s dog, who eats his own poop, won’t eat one of these.
Neighborhood gossip has it that Philomena once had an ambition to become the first female Mafia don, but she gave it up when her family staged an intervention and told her to get some sense. She obeyed, but she wasn’t happy unless she could inspire fear, send people to the hospital and run gambling operations. She found her niche by becoming a parish volunteer and taking charge of bake sales, raffles and weekly bingo games.
10:45 AM. Two Styrofoam cups of coffee that taste like flavored water and aluminum, three raffle tickets and five conversations later, I finally manage to leave and head home.