1/2/15

Christmas Eve Fight . . .

The holidays are such a magical time of year in sanctuaries across this great land of ours. Thousands and thousands of people who only drag themselves to church services twice a year put on their (version of) Sunday Best and head off to take up valuable pew space that might otherwise be occupied by people who truly value organized religion year-round.

Well, last week I was one of the brood and I arrived a solid 30 minutes before services began so my schlubby, Jewish butt could get a prime seat to watch Special Lady Friend and her choir-mates sing a lovely Cantata of traditional hymns, secular favorites, and mash-ups to make DJ Todd Terry (not the real spelling) jealous, jealous, jealous.

So I'm there . . . sitting with an LED candle and minding my business and reviewing the rules of a Jew at a Christmas sing-a-long (YES to the secular (Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman) and NO to the traditional (Emanuel, Mary's Immaculate Conception, Jesus is My Personal Savior, etc.)) in the exact middle of a pew that had ample room to my right and left. And it stayed that way until about five minutes before the service started.

Then a woman, probably in her late-40s blew in with her Michael Kors purse (I could tell because of the raspberry hue of the leather and the subtle, tasteful four inch wide "MK"-inside-a-golden-circle logos/hood ornaments on both sides of the bag). She sits, oh, two inches off my left hip and starts asking me to move over/down to my right. Apparently she's got three more people coming to join her.

Now, I'm a big man. Wide, child-bearing hips, etc. I know for space in a pew and there was STILL more than enough room for three more people between me and the couple at the far end of the pew but, I moved down. Just a skosh. So in rolls this gentleman. About her age, I would presume. He is, I'm equally presuming, her husband. He sits down, at her request, to leave "enough space between them for the kids". And by enough space I mean nine feet of pew.

So the lights go down in the sanctuary. The proverbial show is about to begin and I'm going to relax and enjoy a lovely Christmas Eve service with a few hundred strangers/Christians. The air is warm. The glow of lights and candles fills the space, etc. The Senior Minister takes the pulpit and we're off.

Fast forward about five minutes. These two "kids" (mid-/late-20s . . . for the record) roll in and just start climbing over people and using their regular speaking voices to express regret for their tardiness and human jungle gym, my ass in your face moves. The sit between the parents and formal introductions are made.

I should clarify here that I'm not sure if this a daughter and her boyfriend or a son and his girlfriend but one of them was wearing the eau du toilette of a whore and the other one smelled worse. They just start chatting with the parents. I mean chatting as in making small talk.

Kid - "Are you hungry? We're hungry."
Mom - "I mean, we ate an hour so ago but I could grab something after this. Honey (leans across couple to chat with husband) are you hungry? I guess these kids are hungry. Should we eat after this?"
Kid - "I am just sorta hungry. Not a huge deal."

So this goes on for several minutes. And I'm getting more and more annoyed but I'm trying to stay focused. This is the birth of Christ we're talking. There is a ginger kid playing Joseph in the live nativity. There is a real donkey taking actual poops in the front of the room. There is so much joy to behold.

The talking continues and then. THEN, to my audible gasp, cell phones make their first appearance. FIRST appearance. These four dullards are going 21st century communication in a House Of G-d! This is NOT okay, right? I mean this is not MY sanctuary or my religion or my house of worship, but I'm not wrong for thinking this should be a phone-free space, right?

And they are texting and Tweeting and Facebook updating and liking and they had those new-fangled iPhones that people love so bad that make the "whoop" sound when a message is sent or received or an update posts, etc. This pew has turned in to a Denny's table full of teenagers.

So they are clearly communicating WITH each other with these phones while STILL using their normal speaking voices to hang out and chit chat and stay in touch. "Did you get that joke, honey?" (the woman asks her amused husband)

I'm seething mad at this point. We're probably twenty minutes in to the service and this is not even slowing down and then. Then. THEN. "It" happens.

The mother decides the only logical thing to do next is to take. A. Group. Selfie.

In a church. During services. While the lights are down. And a friend of mine is doing a solo while sounding exactly like Mark Cohn (yes, the "Walking in Memphis" guy). Oh, oh, oh . . . and she's using FLASH.

So I lose. my. sh*t. Straight up LOST it.

"HEY!," I snapped. "Lower your voices. Or just shut up. Have your conversation about nothing later. Show some respect. And Put. Your. Phone. AWAY!"

All four of them snap to attention like when Darth Vader himself walks in the room.

What followed was fantastic. It was quiet. It was respectful. It was exactly what I wanted the evening to be the entire time. The services end and the lights come up and people start to gather their stuff and this woman, with her horrible purse back in the crook of her elbow, tries to apologize to me.

I didn't even let her start the awkwardness. I cut her off and said (to my great, non-sensical delight) "You have ruined my Christmas!"

We eventually left and went to The Hill and Special Lady Friend bought me one of those pretzels with the beer cheese dip that I love so bad and all was forgiven/forgotten.