I’m pretty sure the real gift he’s trying to give me is religion.

27 Dec

Not safe for communion.

Last week while I was in Michigan I got a phone call from a stranger informing me that she had erroneously received a holiday package intended for me. My suite number at work is 630-E; apparently FedEx delivered my package to a church at 630 E Street SW.

From her voice, I gathered that Mrs. Marshall was an older African-American woman. I thanked her for letting me know she had received my package, but then went on to explain I was out of town and couldn’t retrieve it immediately.

“I’ll be back in DC on Monday. Could I come by for it then?” I asked.

“Monday, you say? That could work.” She paused. “But, uh, it says ‘alcohol’ on the box.”

Oh shit. I didn’t hear what kind of church it had been delivered to – was it a southern Baptist church that would frown on wine? While I was puzzling through this, she went on. “I’m gonna have to hide it, or it won’t be here when you come by next week.”

I tried to joke, “Why? Would you use it for communion?”

“No,” she answered. “The preachers like them some wine. If they see this, they’ll drink it. I’m gonna hide it for you.”

I thanked her and hung up. About this time, one of the guys on my team checked in on me to see if I’d received his Christmas present. “Did you send me wine?” I asked.

“Maybe…” he replied, not wanting to give up the surprise.

“Well, I’m thinking you did, and if so, your gift is sitting in a church across town, under threat of being consumed before I retrieve it. Fortunately, Ms. Marshall is hiding it for me, and I thank you in advance!”

Fast forward to today, my first day back in town. I was out running errands, so I swung by the church to claim my package.

Because I’m a Heathen, I opened the first door I saw without thinking through the architecture of the church. It was a side door near where I’d parked. As it turns out, that door opened DIRECTLY into the front of the church, so when I threw it open and stepped forward, I found myself standing more or less on the altar, at the head of the church, with pews of people staring at me expectantly.

And then I saw the coffin.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell.

I withdrew as discreetly as I could, easing the door shut behind me.

Any normal person would’ve probably gone and climbed in her car and burned rubber getting out of there before anyone could talk to her.

Not this girl. Knowing there was a box filled with alcohol somewhere in that building made me persistent, so I walked around the church and assessed the other doors, finally deciding to try my luck on one of the standard entrances, thinking it would open to some sort of antechamber that might lead to offices.

Kind of like this.

Alas, it also opened directly into the nave, but at least this time, I was at the back of the church, behind the seated parishioners. Unfortunately, the preacher and some “guest of honor” (not the deceased) were getting ready to walk down the aisle, so we shared an awkward look, trying to assess each other.

I had come straight from yoga and was on my way to the pool, so I was wearing multiple layers of grey fleece with a scarf wrapped around my head. I’m pretty sure that everyone who eyed me in that church probably thought I was a homeless woman wandering in off the street for some mid-day warmth.

Conversely, as I looked around the church, it struck me that the deceased might actually be Cap’n Crunch, if the headwear of the guests was any indication. Almost every pew had at least ONE man wearing a red or purple Cap’n Crunch hat. Masons? I’m not sure.

I eased back out the door and decided to try the mission again tomorrow, after calling to confirm I’m not interrupting a funeral.

I felt a total ass for butting my head in during the  proceedings, but I consoled myself with the thought that it probably happens from time to time since there’s a decent number of homeless people in that neighborhood.

In the meantime, if Phil’s gift was an attempt to lure me to church: it worked! Twice in one week is pretty much a record.

T’is the season, I suppose.

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