When I was 12, my buddy Brian was scheduled to serve mass for a week in the summer. It was the 6:30 am mass. The other server backed out because what the hell–it was the 6:30 am mass in summer–and instead of going through the procedure of calling the other servers on the list of people who had actually signed up to be altar boys, Brian just snagged me.
“Wanna serve mass with me this week?”
“What the fuck, I ain’t doing nothing.”
I never signed up for anything, but I was always up for an adventure. I had been going to church since before I was born so I knew all the parts. I knew when to ring the bells. And I was determined to ring them just a little too long. Extend the ringing time to a slightly uncomfortable length.
“Let me ring the bells.”
“. . .”
“You don’t understand, I need to ring the bells.”
“. . .”
Brian swung by my house and we headed out. We had enough time to stop at this bakery on 111th Street to get some doughnuts. And we both had money for doughnuts. We were prepared to pay for the doughnuts is what I’m getting at.
We walked in and the bells on the door went jingle and I thought of how I was going to ring the FUCK out of those four bells in that damn church. Ring the ever-loving SHIT out of them.
Racks of freshly baked stuff were all over the place. They must have just rolled out of the oven because nothing was in the display cases yet. No one came to the counter even though the bell on the door had screamed “Hey you guys! Hey guys! You got customers, guys!” in its jingle-speak.
I grabbed a jelly-filled and Brian grabbed whatever doughnuts Brians eat and we brought them to the counter and waited a bit. I asked “Hello?”loud enough to be heard.
Still, no one emerged.
We waited. One of us said “Hello?” again. No one answered our demands to pay for our altar boy breakfasts.
“We gotta go, we’ll be late to mass,” said Brian.
So we left. With the doughnuts. There was no debate or struggle or attempt to guess how much the doughnuts cost and leave that money on the counter. We just goddamned left. We weren’t conflicted in the least. This isn’t a Judy Blume book.
We came back and took doughnuts every day that week. I assume if we had served mass any longer than that, we may have considered taking something else, like the cash register. But we stuck with one doughnut each. Every day.
The best part? God rewarded me. That’s right. After mass one of those days, after nearly snapping my wrist getting my bells on, a woman came up to me and tipped me a dollar. She told me I looked angelic serving mass. That was God telling me that I could eat stolen doughnuts in His house as long as I looked “angelic” while doing it. I think that rule also applies to our criminal justice system. I’m not sure. Because no one arrested me over the doughnuts and I think the statute of limitations has reached its limit.
How you like me now?
Trust me, I also did horrible stuff as a stock boy and a busboy.
When I worked at the Chateau Bel-Aire banquet hall in Oak Lawn a few years later, busing tables, I drank one 6oz Miller High Life every time I grabbed a tray of ice cream to serve to wedding guests. Those little Miller Killers were sitting in the same freezer as the ice cream–what the hell was I supposed to do? So small. So cold. So drinkable.
The summer I worked there was to be Chateau Bel-Aire’s last summer. That October, it was going to be destroyed to make way for a bank. Obviously that meant CBA was observing a hiring freeze. Also a bunch of people said “fuck this noise” and quit. For those of us who said “What the hell, I ain’t doing nothing,” and stayed, it meant long hours. Some Saturdays I would get there to set up for a morning party at 7 am. I’d work that party, break it down, set up for a wedding reception, work the reception, break it down, and then do dishes until 2 in the morning. All while getting progressively drunker.
You see, laws are for places and people with futures. So no one asked too many questions about where all the beer was going and why it took me so long to grab a tray of ice cream. Also, the bar back (a kid who brings supplies to the bartender) kept handing me glasses full of Coke Enhanced. Coke Enhanced is like Diet Coke only with a few more calories and a whole lot more spiced rum.
At the end of every shift, me and my other buddy, Jason, would take a bottle of wine each and drink it before heading over to Dunkin’ Donuts and calling my mom for a ride home from the payphone because I was too young to drive.
This post goes a long way in explaining why my mom has a resting bitch face.
Sorry mom I guess this means the baptism didn’t take.