Jesus Christ, mom would say, but it would sound like swear words, not a prayer. Jesus Christ. Being late for church made her swear horribly, because in church we were all lined up in rows, like roll call, and social failings were on display each week. Bad clothes, tardiness,(more) hair rinses that turned out brassy. Church was a shit-show, yet a mortal sin to miss.
We were late every week. As if Sunday morning came as a surprise every time. Screamed awake, locked bathroom door, burned toast, hot water used up, last minute ironing, pairing a navy sock with black. Nothing ever good enough, and always being surprised by this fact: that was Church. Towels that smelled like the hamper. One bathroom. Brush through the hair with assorted malcoloured strands stuck in it. Knowing you'd never really look good, or be good.
Dad would smoke until the very last minute, standing at the window that overlooked only grass, dragging on his dented, roll-your-own Lucky #7 and surely seeing something else, something seductive out that window. His window-gazing was to our family what a mistress might be to another. Daydreaming delayed him, took him from us, made us wonder what he saw there that we didn't have.
Filing in late. If you made it before the Gospel you weren't officially too late.I'd bring a book to read. I liked mysteries at that time. I had more patience then. Now I can't stand someone knowing how things end before I do. I avoid that sort of fiction. It was OK then, as the whole world was a mystery, summed up by panicked traipses to a church no one believed in for a God that didn't see us for reasons no one could explain, except duty. (less)