Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Desperately Seeking Bread

Since two people have now requested stories about different types of bread, "eggy" and "fairy", and they know who they are, I've thought, well hey Y, why not post a story about the marvels of bread! it is...if anyone is reading...

Desperately Seeking Bread

I was raised as a Catholic, and as I said, I lapsed badly when a nun told me to be quiet, and I gained a fresh perspective on certain aspects of Catholic philosophy. That's not to say I'm not a hypocrite, I still went to some Sunday school outings, when there was free food and best of all, a chocolate wheel. As long as I still nodded every so often when people told me Jesus was brilliant, I could get a free Crunch bar or two. Plus, they always seemed to bring a dunking tank along, which is always fun: everyone should get a chance to dunk a priest, at least once.

Anyway, the point is that at least, mostly because of my love of Crunch bars, I went through most of the ceremonies. I was certainly baptised, I know that match, and while I don't remember much about my communion (bar Claire's family dressed her in an ornate dress while my mum and dad had me in jeans and a halter top, thus signifying our differences in a nut shell), I know I got a big medal and cash, which was exciting. By the time it came for my confirmation, I was so over the whole thing, but I went through with it, despite some badly bruised ribs, so that I could get a surfing weekend as a reward.

One person who didn't go through with from an early age was Holly McKenzie, who was the third cousin of televisions Jim Robinson (the fabulous Alan Dale), and who always seemed to be pouting. She was the original "are we there yet" girl, who once lead a campaign to get our beanbags in our school re-beaned (if that's a term) because they were too harsh. She was a supermodel in all but looks, since she was a pretty big girl, but she was certainly never afraid to complain. At some point in Grade 1, her parents took offence to a strain of Catholic teaching (I guess they didn't like the snake story) and when it came our turn to take communion and get all the lessons, she sat out with Bhapesh Saldanha, and played hopscotch. To say I was jealous is an understatement. I was a gun at hopscotch, and didn't take kindly to anyone getting extra practice and threatening my talents. If they had taken out a hula hoop and practiced that, I would have renounced Catholicism myself, and sprinted to the playground in a Grade 2 mardy strop. Of course, as we watched them play outside, we were subjected to many lessons about "communion bread". "It's not really bread" we'd say, and then, we'd get a 3 hour lecture on why it was bread. And they wonder why no one goes to mass now.

By the time we reached Grade 8, none of us were very interested in mass, and our only contact with the church was being dragged off to school mass. We used to gather outside the assembly hall with our best bored faces and sulky pouts, and tap our feet cos we were like, so bored. I, in my bridging role, tried to keep things light, sometimes by organising priest bingo. Whoever our priest was (his name escapes me), would try and be hip in his sermon, so we'd try and guess what words he'd use, like "cool" or "rad", and thus, priest bingo was born. Many a time a kid would yell something out, and the priest would smile, as if he was leading a Billy Graham/Hillsong style passionate revival with audience participation, when in truth, his use of the word "awesome" had enabled someone to win a Freddo Frog and twenty bucks.

One fateful day, while everyone was shuffling in, Holly came up to me to get her bingo card, and made mention of the fact that she'd never had communion. Offhandedly, I said she was quite lucky, since the whole taste of communion bread was quite "boufing" (some word Claire brought back from Scotland). Holly said that she liked bread, and that she'd sure like to at least stand in the queue with her friends. I said shut up you big doofus, it sticks to your mouth, it's horrible, no one likes it, it's just something we do, and she said I bet you twenty bucks I'll love it. I said, you'll just lie, I'm not betting, and she said, scouts honour, and I said, you aren't a scout, you're a girl guide, and she said, it's a figure of speech, and genuinely, I'm not a liar, and I'm Alan Dale's third cousin, and Claire said, will you shut up about being Alan Dale's third cousin, we know, just take your bingo card and shut up. I said, look, we won't make a bet, but if you want to come up and get some, I'll shield you, just stick close to me, and no one will notice. And then she moved on, bingo card in hand, and that I thought was the end of that.

The church ceremony dragged on for ages, and I think Claire won the bingo when the priest mentioned "you young people" and "Hubba Bubba" (an upset, and one that lead to accusations of cheating against me, unfairly) and then, it was communion time. I was suddenly aware that Holly was sprinting towards me. "Shield me" she said, and so I did my best, hiding her as she joined the line deftly. She quietly, and quickly, shuffled along the line, and when she got to the front, she took my lead, nodded, said Amen, and went back to her seat. Again, I thought no more of it. I sat down on my vinyl chair, and pretended like I was praying, when a voice across from me, unmistakably Holly's, said in a pouting voice, "that's not fucking bread!". She hadn't eaten "the host" and the Catholic symbol of Christ, but was holding it up to the light, as if checking to see if a 5 dollar note wasn't counterfeit. "Alyson said this was fucking bread" she repeated. I slapped my forehead and shook my head. Claire began to giggle uncontrollably. Sure enough, from all directions, teachers came sprinting over to Holly, and dragged her off, one forcably by the arm, and we didn't see her for the rest of the day, her little communion wafer falling on the floor as she flew. That was it for Claire, who had to hold her sides to stop from laughing, and when she got out the door after that little "mass has ended bit", had to lie down on a blue bench for about ten minutes, laughing her little blonde head off.

We never found out what they said to Holly, but she never really spoke about it. We think, from someone who was wandering past, that she was basically thrown out of the Catholic church, and she didn't have the heart to tell them she wasn't in it to begin with, and took the lecture. Either way, whether you're dealing with eggy bread, fairy bread or religious bread, it's important to know one thing: just accept it's bread - it's not, I repeat not, worth the 3 hour lecture it takes to convince you otherwise...