I sit through Mr. Hawaiian Shirt’s sermon and am not offended. That’s a start. He, rather ironically, preaches on peace – the fruit of the spirit that I am lacking this day and many others. Even so, I determine to shoot out of this building as quickly as I can once it’s over – and to under no circumstances fill out the dreaded visitor card.
I run up the stairs to retrieve my children from their various classrooms as soon as Mr. Peppy McEdgy finishes his closing song. I successfully grab two of my children before I find myself caught in small talk with a guy who looks like he was a surfer dude in another life but is a dad and Sunday School teacher in his present incarnation. I smile and nod and chat – after all, I’m more of a b*tch in my head than in conversation. A few other people gather and the mingling lingers.
For the first time I notice a fairly attractive man probably in his 30’s standing across from me. He has obnoxiously perfect McDreamy type hair and is wearing the oddest expression on his face – one that speaks of a cautious fear. Like he’s happened upon a rattlesnake and he’s not sure which direction it’s going to strike. And then out of his mouth comes this:
“I commented on your blog.”
In the next few seconds, this happens in my brain:
Wait. What? Did that just happen? I jumped in my car, drove more than 3000 miles, walked into a church and someone knew who I flippin’ was? What the crap? And this guy hasn’t seen just any post – he’s specifically seen the post that says we’re afraid of visiting a church in Canada because we’re so freaking jaded and wary. No wonder he looks so scared. He’s probably thinking “Holy crap, she’s going to blog about my church!” Dammit. And I’m so much fatter in real life. I bet he’s thinking, “Wow, she’s so much fatter in real life”.
With any luck, none of this is playing out in my body language but let’s call a spade a spade – I’m terrible at hiding my emotions. I don’t bother to wear them on my sleeve but all over every inch of my face. So for the next several minutes I chat with Mr. McDreamy Hair while consciously trying not to come across like a poisonous reptile by channeling my best deer-in-headlights until finally the conversation dies down and I’m free to gather up the Wild Things and find an exit.
The front lobby of the church is packed with people, despite the service being long over. Fresh coffee and cookies are being served and people are just . . . visiting. Talking. Laughing. Mr. Hawaiian Shirt and Mr Surfer Dude do a tag team maneuver and smother us in kindness and brotherly love. Hawaiian Shirt even talks me into filling out the dreaded visitor card by baiting it with free coffee giftcards. How can I resist free coffee giftcards? Brilliant.
Inexplicably, we find ourselves invited to Surfer Dude’s house that evening for a powwow of a potential small group starting in the Fall. And so a mere hours after that gut-dropping initial drive into the church parking lot, I’m sitting in a stranger’s living room. Mr Hawaiian Shirt is cracking jokes – apparently that’s his thing. Mr Surfer Dude is serving everyone at once. Even Mr Peppy McEdgy is there, sitting mostly quietly besides the keyboardist – his soon-to-be bride.
And despite the perfectly deplorably attitude that I woke up with this morning, I’m enjoying myself. I’m learning real names and dropping the condescending nicknames that I’ve been slinging maliciously in my head. And I’m thinking . . . maybe this whole church thing won’t be so bad after all . . .