Friday, December 9, 2011

The Devil hangs out in parking lots.

Holy places bring out the devil in us.  I honestly believe that Satan doesn't hang out in Hell but instead lounges casually about in Catholic church parking lots.  He was certainly in mine last night giggling as he watched me cuss out the dude in the Honda Accord who would not move out of my way as I was trying to park in one of the few remaining spots available for Holy Day mass.  I'm sure the guy used some choice words on me as the stand-off continued; however, I won.  Confession is scheduled all week.  I guess I'll have to go and share with Father Greg the choice four-letter words I screamed at my fellow parishioner before I walked through the church doors.  Lovely.

I hate to pick on Catholics but as this is my only point of reference, I have no other choice.  I'm sure participants of various other religions could share some whopper parking lot stories and I'd love to hear them.  I know we Catholics probably don't have the corner market on "crazy" but then again, I've got to work with what I know. 

I must admit, I've learned from the pros.  My parents, in particular my mother, is the queen of crazy in the parking lot game.  Double parking was the standard at the large church where I grew up and if we were fortunate enough to double park in the front of the line heading out of the lot, whoa -- that was a gift from Beelzebub!  We never stayed for the final blessing.  We merely walked right out the church doors after receiving Communion and into our car. So naughty, so wrong.

Just recently, during my latest visit to California, I was reminded of how prolific her misbehavior can be.  We were running late for early morning mass.  Instead of parking where we should have, my mom parked at the curb reserved for emergency vehicles only.  My thought at the time was that she'd planned on dropping me off and coming in after she had found a spot further off in the lot.  Not so.  To my shock and horror she told me that she'd done this often and that as of yet, no one had said anything.  Oh boy.

Praying for my mother's soul and hoping that I wouldn't go down into the flames with her, I pretended to forget the old habit of walking out of church immediately following Communion.  Instead, I returned to my pew, bent my head in prayerful silence, and waited for the final blessing.  For those of you unfamiliar with Catholic mass, normally after Communion, the priest or a lector will make some short community announcements before the final blessing.  This time the announcements were something to this effect:

"We would like to remind the person who insists on continuing to park his or her vehicle in the emergency only lane that this is a dangerous and very unchristian thing to do.  If there were an emergency and a fire truck were to need access to the church, you could be responsible for someone not receiving immediate medical assistance.  For the last time, please do not use this location to park your car to attend mass."

I almost choked on my tongue.  I must admit, my mother handled it beautifully.  She didn't even flinch.  Two, three, perhaps four seconds went by before she whispered in my ear that she would meet me outside in the truck.  This was my cue to be discreet and leave soon afterwards.  Oh, the Devil was certainly in Paramount, California that Sunday morning.  Not only was he hooting with glee as my mom snuck out the back door but he was tickling me when I sang every line of the final hymn, took my time walking out, shook Father's hand congratulating him on the lovely sermon, and had me consider purchasing the lovely crucifixes on sale outside while my mother sat uncomfortably in her notoriously sinful, silver Toyota 4Runner.

I felt so naughty and so saintly at the same time.  Now isn't that a bit of parking lot crazy? 

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