Freeplay Friday is where all the random thoughts, strange happenings, and other nonsense that might not be entirely dad-oriented are going to end up. Back off me man, it’s been a long week.
So despite the fact that Episcopalians don’t have actual “days of obligation,” I feel strongly about going to the Ash Wednesday service every year. Ask why if you like, but I really don’t have an answer; I just feel compelled to go. So after work on Wednesday, I sped over to my old church in the Heights for an evening service.
To make a long story short, when it was my turn to be marked with ashes, the elderly lady reached down to draw the cross on my forehead just as I lifted my head up to meet her gaze. This in turn causes most of the ashes to knocked off of her hand and to cascade down all over my face. I could actually feel them patter across my nose and cheeks. This elicits an, “er, oh…” from the old lady, she pauses for a moment to consider what to do, and then quickly steps to my left, presumably to cover the next poor soul in ashes.
At this point I’m tempted to go to the restroom to wash it off (because I’m envisioning that I look like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins), but that seems a little perfidious. So instead I turn around and simply head back to my pew, where I try to wipe my nose and eyebrows off as best I can.
The rest of the service proceeds without incident, and afterward I head home. I did, however, have to make a pit stop at Babies-R-Us to add a crib to our registry. (I’ll tell you that story next week.) While there, I noticed that the employees were looking at me rather strangely. But I assumed that either they didn’t know what the cross on my head was for (Texas is Baptist country, after all), or that I’d just missed some of the ashes that had been spilled on me and I was still a bit of a mess.
Fast-forward to when I get home and go to the bathroom, where I can actually look into a well-lit mirror.
And there, on my forehead, clear as day, is a black swastika.
The woman didn’t just give me palm frond blackface, her shaky thumb drew a whole damn swastika on my forehead. Which means I didn’t look at all like Dick Van Dyke; I looked like ‘effing Charles Manson.
And I was walking around the cribs in Babies-R-Us looking like that…
“What lovely small cages you have here. I’ll take a dozen.”