Before the Kiss of Peas, Père Wang and Père de Lescault called a group of demoiselles up to the altar. Twelve teen-age girls emerged timidly, pushed and arranged like furniture by Sister Donation, one of the Lord’s appointed interior decorators, without whom we’d be mixing chintz with plaid and becoming Protestants. Yes, Sister Donation was getting the girls in a half-moon formation, facing the handsome altar decorated with couture cassocked priests and altar boys in Ordinary Time’s requisite green and white.
“What’s going on, Mom? Are they in trouble?” whispered my son pointing to the maidenly congregation.
“I fear they are,” I returned. “Let’s see what happens.”
It soon became clear this was a kind of sacred swearing in and that the girls were committing themselves to being handmaidens of the parish. Their duties, as specified solemnly by Père de Lescault, were to wear a consecrated frock, greet parishioners at the door and scoot the wafers and wine up to the altar at the appointed time. To the question: “Do you want to be good hostesses and fulfill the work of the Virgin Mary?” the girls muttered a collective “oui, je le veux.” They then awaited the aforementioned frock, understandably anxious about the public dressing room.
I was hoping they’d be given a vestment on par with the elegantly tailored gowns worn by the altar boys who get to do all the fun stuff, but to my dismay, nay, to my utter disgust, Père pulled from a Darty bag, a stack of satiny light blue fabric; not gowns, my friends, but Lourdes-blue shawls of a shoddy nylon redolent of the hijabs you see around town. Père de Lescault holy water doused the pile purposefully and proceeded to wrap the shawls around the shoulders of each damsel, tying a tight knot in the front so the girls were bound like swaddled babes.
It was not a pretty sight, friends. Picture twelve Belleville teens squeezed into sausage casing jeans and wearing bulky black parkas cling-wrapped in baby blue Virgin Mary shawls.
The message, as homely as the scene just described, could not have been clearer: you serve the church according to your rank and as a member of the female sex, a common ewe, you can just flush that dream of a ram cassock down the toilet.
I thought hightailing with a humph!, but then remembered the J.C de Castelbajac number I had in my closet and had to hide my grin in the missalette.
Ain’t no padre going to stop Miss Anne! Here I am consecrating a loaf of kamut bread.
And to the Padres of the world, in particular — Wang, Boyardee, de Lescault- here’s a word from my sponsor: the hottest, the grandest Ewe of Pleasure, Mama Gena, Headmistress of the School of Womanly Arts in New York City.