So since I have nothing to write about as such, I thought I’d tell you all a harrowing tale from my own neurotic back-catalogue. My day as an Altar boy. When I was a young boy, I lived in a fairly religious family, in a fairly religious neighbourhood in a fairly religious town. At school we learnt Religious Education and at church we learnt Religious Education. I don’t remember there being much else on at the time.
In the area I was in, it was not uncommon to be an altar boy so that’s what I did. I’m not sure if it was out of an inner desire to be closer to God or whether my mum made me do it, but I do remember it was a chance to see behind the scenes of a weekly production. For me it was like having a backstage pass to the hottest venue on a Sunday morning. There was a magic to it, but the problem with magic is that it only lasts as long as you’re able to believe in it. Once you break the illusion and see the strings and blu-tack, the magic is gone and you’re left feeling a little bit silly.
To the left of the Altar was a door that lead into the bit I was interested in; where I assumed they kept the angels and that direct line to God but when I entered, all I saw was a fairly unimpressive store-room. There were boxes of the Body of Christ (the manufacturers return address was a big disappointment), piles of spare bibles, crosses, incense etc… All of that wonderous parephenalia from Mass was suddenly reduced to nothing more than stock sitting
in a props room. It certainly took the edge off my religious fervour; not the epiphany mum was hoping for maybe, but I guess God works in mysterious ways…
So the magic had gone but there was still enough pomp and ceremony to soldier on as an altar boy. For my first morning mass I was willing to give it my all. This was to be my premiere performance; I’d never been in front of a crowd before so I knew I had to make it count.
It started smoothly, we all knew our places and worked the crowd well, but halfway through mass the priest called me to the altar and handed me a key, asking me to put it on the table (pointing to the left door from earlier). I accepted this holy mission with great vigour and walked over to the left door as all eyes turned to me and my triumph over evil. This was my moment – I was a star…and their eyes were glued to me.
But as I walked towards the door, another table came into view – it had been obscured from view at the altar area. Now I was in a conundrum – a crisis of faith, if you will. Did the priest mean the table by the door or the table behind the door? There was no time to think, this was a defining moment and I had to act fast. I placed the keys on the table by the door and returned to my spot on the far right.
All eyes were back on the priest as he looked over at the table then back to me and called me back over. The Priest then told me he meant the other table through the door and would I go move the keys to where he asked them to be moved. What a prima donna! It was a cold walk of shame as I crossed the altar again and walked offstage to correct my mistake.
Then I started hearing laughter. That’s right, laughter. They all had a good old chuckle at my expense, and this crowd were supposed to be the good guys. I looked over to the priest for support and he was having a laugh too (because I might add, of his unprofessionalism, lack of showmanship and poor key placement in the first place). So then, the walk of double shame back to the right of the altar past the fickle, laughing crowd, no longer the hero of the piece but as the comic relief.
Long story short, I threw in my shawl and badge that afternoon; I’d let it get personal and I needed to cool off. But I will say that to this day I still don’t know if it was the priests way of showing me who the crowd was really there to see. Whatever his agenda was, I lost a little of the magic that day. The curtain was pulled back and I saw the Wizard for what he truly was. Now I will admit that a little magic can go a long way and I could not live without it, but it’s only magic if you don’t stare too long.
(oh and it doesn’t blow up in your face).