I grew up going to church, a denomination "loosely affiliated with southern baptist" they always said. Pretty much contemporary, wear jeans and a t shirt. Communion was once a month, grape juice and crusty bread. You played tag and had donuts afterwards. Very laid back.
When I was around 10, one of my neighborhood friends invited me to her church. She had come to a few church functions with me, so of course, I would go to hers. We pull up and my first thought was, "Wow, this place looks like a church!" Complete with lit up cross, and white steeple. Our church was in a business park. Theirs said St. Patrick's on the outside.
Should have known things were going to be a liiiiitttlllle different when we rolled up at 6pm. In her mom's Cadillac, complete with metal straps on the trunk, making it look like a suitcase. I was used to Sunday morning service, and only six o'clock services during Christmas. I probably would have fell over and died had I know they had MIDNIGHT services.
We bustle into the pew, which, once again, we rows of chairs at our church. Every ones butt parked in it's own spot. I'm not a big fan of space invaders. So we start singing hymns, from back in the day of Jesus himself, that I had never heard of. Once again, I plead naive, only contemporary music was floating around my church, with the exception of Amazing Grace, Joyful, Joyful, etc.
I sit down and put my feet up on the foot rest. I was in awe over the footrest, our church wasn't that cool. Oh wait, that's not a footrest? Its to kneel on? Whattttttttttttttt????? We're kneeling?
So we all get down on our knees, and pray. Except for I didn't pray. I was too busy trying not to laugh, because for me, this was weird. I was peeking one eye open and looking around. The pastor gets done, and everyone starts shaking hands and saying "Peace be with you." Huh? What? Why? So of course, because I don't to stick out like an old grandma in a Miss America pageant, I do it too. And we sit back down, and repeat. About 3 more times. Up, down, kneel, pray, shake. Like a bad case of the flu.
Then, they all filed into a line. By now I am sweating. This place is stressing me out. They all know what to do, and I have no idea what to do. I'm standing in line, I don't know what for, and the Pope-- that is the Pope, right? Looks like the Pope..... I get corrected, it's a bishop. Pope, Bishop, Nuns, I don't know. So the Pope/Bishop places a something on the tongue of the person in front of me. And kisses their cheek.
I am not opening my mouth like a baby bird, and who knows what that paper thing is he put on their tongue. And then a kiss? EWWWWWWWWWW no. So I walk up there and put my hand out. He hands me the nasty tasting matzo cracker cardboard paper, and leans forward......
I bow my head and say "Thank you your majesty"
My friend whispers something about how I shouldn't call him that. I didn't know!!!!! I didn't want him to kiss me, so I panicked. It seemed appropriate, I think. Call him Father, she says. He's not my daddy, I am sure of that. I don't plan on getting that close to call him anything again. He motions me to the next line. I stand there, and when it's my turn, the pope/bishop is holding out a glass. And everyone takes a sip. FROM THE SAME GLASS.
Double EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. I quickly duck out of that line. I am not swapping spit with strangers. I have already shook hands with everyone and their grandmas in a three row radius. I have enough germs on me to start a measles/mumps/rubella revolution.
We sit back down, where a lady asks if I am Catholic. I say no, I am.... American.
What, I'm ten. Didn't matter because she starts making a stink about about how I shouldn't participate in communion because I'm not Catholic. Of course I think I have just committed a crime, and am about ten seconds away from tears. We say our final Peace Be With You/Shalom/Hallelujah/Ooga Booga and I have to say I have never been back. Let's remember I was ten. Those things stay with you.