Every Sunday morning my Mother would gather her 5 children and march us to the car, wake up my Dad and he would drive us to St. Joseph The Worker R.C. Church in East Patchogue, NY for 9:am Mass.
If it was winter, Dad would leave us off at the church and go home, then in 45 minutes come back to pick us up. If the weather were nice, he’d stay in the parking lot, read the Daily News or sleep until we came out. He believed in God, just not long rituals and a lot of kneeling.
Mom would lead us into the church as we followed single file, by age except for me. I was to close out the family procession, and this would separate me from Mom, so she wouldn’t know what I was up to.
There was an elderly couple that had given money to rebuild the church, and so had a pew with a plaque with their name on it. The old lady felt her largesse entitled her to this pew at any time, day or night 24/7 for eternity.
She usually wore a mink stole, pearls and a fancy dress, being how she was a dumpy old broad, looked like a steel teapot as she strolled down the aisle in her bluish white hair. Her husband was a lawyer and wore a brown suit and tie along with a fedora he held throughout Mass, walking about two steps behind her.
One Sunday we as a family choose this pew, because it was the only one empty, and when Mrs. Moneybags arrived was put off by that fact, and in fact decided to sit somewhere else out of her Christian anger. Her husband was indicating that there was still plenty of room as we all slid over, but she would not have it.
After her demonstration of Christian love towards my Mom and four sisters, not to mention myself, I felt revenge was in order. During the week I found a rather large spindle legged spider and captured it, putting it in a small white cardboard jewelry box and took it to church with me.
The procession began with Mom first, followed by her children and sure enough we sat right behind Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags. The witch hated me because I used to say the “Our Father” out loud, and I would deliberately say: “Hollow Ed be thy name,” instead of Hallowed be thy name, where then she would turn around and give me the meanest look in a church as if I was the devil himself.
My plan was simple for the old hag. When the priest said: “Let us pray”, I would slip the spider out of his captivity and set him free, all the while singing silently to myself, “Born Free”. I really needed to make it a religious experience. Sure as I sit here typing, the Priest says his thing and I swing into action. Where do I put it, but into her nice thick well sprayed blue white hair. Off goes the spider happily along one of her strands deep into the lushness for hopefully the rest of the day. Well, this touches off a minor convulsion for my little sister as she watches the spider jaunt along Mama Moneybags hair. My Mother looks over to see what the commotion is and I look straight ahead, at Jesus on the cross, knowing full well that if Mom finds out what I did, it is Move over Jesus Time, because here I come.
The interesting thing is I could not look at my sister during the rest of the service for fear of either one of us breaking out in laughter. When we got in the car, baby sister tells all, my father is laughing and my Mom has this “I don’t think it’s funny but I’ll let it go this time” look.