When I was eight years old, I was convinced that my Sunday school teacher hated my guts. So every weekend, when my parents dropped me off at the front door of the church, I'd walk straight through to the rear exit, change into gym clothes, and spend the next few hours playing basketball at a public court down the street.
By the time I finally got busted, it was the end of July. Unfortunately, at the end of every summer, the church put all the Sunday school students on display in front of the entire congregation, an annual event at which we were supposed to impress the elders with our vast canonical knowledge of the bible. Despite the fact that my church education for the year had been cut short due to my delinquency, I was informed that my presence was absolutely required.
During the event, the reverend turned to us and asked if we knew all of God's different names. One child answered, "Yahweh." Another called out, "Jehovah." Then, to my utter fear and horror, the reverend turned to me and said, "How about you, Pierre? Do you know God's name?"
Trying to think fast on my feet, I yelled out, "Yes! God's name is Howard!"
The reverend's face turned quizzical and he asked, "Why would you say that God's name is Howard?"
"Because it says so right in the Lord's Prayer! 'Our father who art in Heaven, Howard be thy name!'"
With that, the entire congregation burst out laughing hysterically and the vast scope of my religious ignorance was exposed for everyone to see. Needless to say, my days at church were numbered after that traumatic experience.
Flash forward 30 years later...
Members of my father-in-law's church congregation visit his house to pray for him. As the pastor begins to recite a long and solemn prayer, the Peanut walks into the room eating a candy bar. Confused as to why everyone has their eyes closed and their heads bent, she immediately starts yelling, "Hey! Wake up, guys. It's not nap time yet."
Receiving no attention to her remarks, she then proceeds to walk up to random people, forcefully prying their eyes open with her little fingers, and saying "C'mon. Please don't go to bed now. The sun is still awake!"
As my mother-in-law stifles her laughter, one of the members of the congregation turns to the BossLady and whispers, "So I guess you guys don't go to church much, eh?"
Damn. Is it that obvious?
Thanks for all your kind comments and heartfelt e-mails. We're truly touched by your sympathies. Unfortunately, my FIL's cancer is worse than we had previously thought. We'll be spending the next few months commuting between New York and Dallas on a weekly basis. Posting here may be light. Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers.