“The first time I sang in the church choir, two hundred people changed their religion.” ~ Fred Allen
“Come on Elizabeth, be a good Catholic girl and get in line for your ashes,” Mom and Dad would chant in church every year when Ash Wednesday rolled around. The first time up, my thoughts turned to complete and utter terror “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” I yelled, “I don’t want that horrid priest to burn my forehead with a lit cigar, Ma!”
(Italian Lesson: cigar smoker = fumatore di sigari)
I was only about seven or eight I suppose, so I had no idea exactly what was really going on in the front of St. Mary’s Church — except for the fact that I sure didn’t want my little forehead used as a friggin’ ashtray by Father Boyle! I can just HEAR the sizzling and smell my young burning flesh melting away – I’ll be scarred for life – NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Even worse, this is what you’d call a “special occasion” mass, meaning it didn’t even “count” for the week – ugh. So now we have to head back to the pews to do it again for another hour on Sunday — damn! This church stuff was totally cramping my style!
And all that talk about ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Like I really want to hear that I’ll be cremated one day and turned to a grey powder – I have my whole life ahead of me for crying out loud! I guess I figured that the burning hot cigar was just the priest’s subtle, yet sadistic reminder, and I just wanted to take a pass — thanks anyway!