Friday, October 28, 2022

Irish Food: Erin Go Blah

It’s time once again for another edition of the Culinary Report, which the New York Times described as the “economical gastronomical chronicle of western Connecticut.” (Or maybe it wasn’t the New York Times. It might’ve been my friend Dave, but either way, someone really important gave this ol’ Culinary Report two thumbs up.)

This week, the topic is: Irish cuisine. I realize that term sounds somewhat oxymoronic. If you do a Google search for the phrase “Irish cuisine,” it mostly comes up with joke websites, all of which include this classic: “What is an Irish 7-course meal? A potato and a six-pack.”
And if you do a Google search for “Irish restaurants,” all the establishments listed contain the word “Pub.” When you scan through some of these websites, you’ll find a long list of available beers and liquors, and a very brief list of food options. One pub listed exactly two food choices: pretzels, and a refill of pretzels. 

So, the Irish people are not renowned for their food, but we make up for that by having the world’s greatest poets, story-tellers, and corrupt politicians. (Yeah, I know that last phrase is redundant.)

Our topic today is not so much “Irish cuisine,” but more like “the Irish and cuisine.” And our guest expert on this subject is none other than me.

First, a little background. As someone who has 100% Irish lineage, this means my gastrointestinal system has been developed by thousands of years of natural selection. For countless generations, my ancestors consumed only three things: potatoes, an occasional piece of boiled beef with no seasoning, and beer. As a result, if I eat anything spicy, such as a cinnamon flavored Tic Tac, my stomach lets me know it in no uncertain terms. 

A few weeks ago, we were invited by our neighbors to a birthday party for their young daughter. It was a lovely party, with plenty of food and drink. Oh, did I mention our neighbors are originally from India? Well, the food and drink were great, and one especially tasty dish had pieces of chicken covered in a reddish orange sauce. I took a few bites and said, “Wow, that’s great.” Then a few moments later my hair started tingling and my scalp began to sweat. Or possibly my scalp started to tingle and my hair began to sweat. 
My wife whispered to me, “Be careful with that. It’s very spicy.”

I replied, as small wisps of flame came out of my mouth, “Yeah, but it tastes great!”

Just then, I received an urgent text message from my esophogus and stomach. “Sorry to bother you, sir,” it read, “but all of our sensors are in alarm! Do you know what’s going on out there?!”

“Relax,” I replied. “It’s just a little spicy chicken.”

“Oh, but sir,” another urgent message began, “do you recall that Mexican restaurant a couple of years ago? Don’t you remember how you felt for the next day or two or twelve? Please, sir, we oughtn’t go through another fortnight like THAT again!”

Next, I received a text from my intestines. “Sir, we’ve heard a nasty rumor that spicy Indian food is advancing on our position. Please advise.”

When I confirmed the reports, well, let’s just say the reply from my intestines was a little too “spicy” to print in a family newspaper. 
Just as predicted, it was indeed a fairly painful fortnight. But that spicy chicken was so good, I’m sure I’d do it all over again. 

Traditional Irish cuisine may not be very interesting. But whenever we “sons of Erin” eat spicy food from another culture, it causes some discomfort, yes, but it does make for some lively story-telling. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

This ‘Road Report’ Is Semi-Interesting

It’s time once again for my semi-annual “Road Report,” where I give a first-hand account of the trials and tribulations of spending way too much time navigating the gorgeous stretch of highway we all know and love: Interstate-84.

(In keeping with the general tenor of my semi-monthly “Road Report,” you may notice that I employ certain words in ways that are atypical. That is, I type words such as “gorgeous” and “love,” when I really mean the exact opposite. This is done for a couple of reasons. First, it is sarcastically humorous — if you’re a fan of sarcasm, which, based on my email inbox, many people are not. And second, the International Road Report Society of Western Connecticut and Southern Idaho frowns upon using words like “ugly” and “hate.”)  
So, here is my semi-weekly “Road Report.” First, the good news: I-84 is still there. We are able to travel from Sturbridge, MA, all the way to Scranton, PA, in slightly less time than it would take to walk that distance. (Unless it’s rush hour. Then it’s about four hours longer.)

Now, here is the bad news: I-84 is still there. This means countless cities and towns are still sliced in half by this macadam monstrosity. Whether it’s Hartford, Waterbury, Danbury, Newburgh, Scranton, or hundreds of towns in between, each of these communities has an east-west gouge through its very heart, altering forever the particular burg’s character and charm. 

Here are some additional fun facts I recently dug up (mostly because I was bored when our cable stopped working): When the Interstate Highway System was proposed in the late 1950s, the reason given was the fact most roads, such as Route 6 in Connecticut, were old and overburdened. (“Old and overburdened”? That should be my personal motto.)

The creation of I-84 relieved traffic congestion on roads like Rt. 6. But it did cause something unexpected to occur: traffic congestion on I-84. 
Construction on the Connecticut portion of Interstate-84 began in 1961. Which means highway repair work and the Orange Cone Brigade began to appear in 1962. Thankfully, the Dept. of Transportation recently announced that repair work on I-84 is scheduled to be completed in the spring of the year 2472. However, there are rumors that the repair work is a bit behind schedule and may not be finished until the fall of 2472. I’m glad to report that funding for I-84 repair work is not a problem. This is mostly due to the fact that no one in Congress can count that high. Therefore, no problem!

OK, enough of the fun facts. (That’s my way of saying the cable’s working again, so I don’t have to research obscure highway trivia anymore, and I can go back to typing distractedly on my laptop computer while most of my attention is focused on this week’s episode of “The Masked Singer.”) In this edition of my semi-daily “Road Report,” I have a stunning announcement to make. For the first time since the day Benjamin Franklin invented the Ford Model-T automobile, BMW drivers are no longer the most obnoxious and reckless people behind the wheel. The number one spot now belongs to Audi drivers. Don’t fret Beemer lovers. You are currently a close second, and if a few more of you cut me off as you zig-zag through traffic at 90 MPH, you may once again regain the top spot.

Well, we’re just about out of space for this edition of my semi-centennial “Road Report.” I hope you enjoyed this analysis of everyone’s favorite old and overburdened section of interstate highway. By the way, everything I’ve written here is pure nonsense (except the Audi thing; those guys are insane!), but I’m sure that was semi-obvious. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

John the Ever-Lovin’ Baptist

This week, let’s talk about John the Baptist. As we all know, John the Baptist was quite a character. He lived in the wilderness, dressed like a caveman (at least according to Hollywood), was on the Adkins “grasshoppers and honey” diet plan, and was not shy about proclaiming to anyone and everyone that they must repent and turn back to God.

When Jesus came to John to be baptized, it was John who declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” A little later John proclaimed, “Now I have seen and testified that [Jesus] is the Son of God.”
So, John the Baptist did his job perfectly. He was the herald who proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. And once Jesus began His ministry, John humbly stepped aside to let the real star of the show take center stage. 

John did such a good job that later on, as we read in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 11, Jesus said, “Among those born of women, there has been none greater than John the Baptist.” (Don’t be confused by the phrase, “Among those born of women.” That was just a fancy way of saying among everyone who has ever lived.)

That’s pretty good, huh? Jesus clearly said that no one in all of history was greater than John. However, the timing of Jesus’ statement is a bit stunning. You see, a few verses earlier, we read that John was in prison, and while imprisoned John sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask Him this question: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”

Whoa, wait a minute! Do you understand what this question really means? It means John the Baptist was not sure if Jesus was the Messiah. John the Baptist — John THE ever-lovin’ Baptist — doubted Jesus. Holy moly!
Now, if I were Jesus (and let’s all thank Heaven that I’m not), I might have replied to John’s followers this way: “Um, excuse me? John asked whether I’m the one? How dare he doubt me! You go back and tell Mr. Baptist that I am livid! And I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive him for this terrible insult! Harrumpf!”

What can we learn from this stunning episode? I think there are two lessons. First, if John the Baptist — John THE ever-lovin’ Baptist! — can have moments of doubt, then it’s OK if we occasionally have doubts. 

As Christians, we are called to seek the truth. And if we sincerely seek the truth, eventually we’ll discover that Jesus is the Truth, with a capital “T.” In our fractured secular culture, however, there are countless loud and persistent voices all claiming that their particular narrative is the real truth. Everyone cannot be right. (Statistically speaking, and utilizing the law of non-contradiction, most of them have to be wrong.)

So, it’s not uncommon for people in our modern society to get confused and question what is true. Maybe some folks, just like John the Baptist, knew at a point in the past that Jesus is the Son of God, but now they’re not so sure. 

If that’s the case with you or a loved one, don’t despair. Why? Because of lesson number two: Jesus loves us and He is pleased when we sincerely seek the truth despite our doubts. If John the Baptist can wonder about the true identity of Jesus, and yet have Jesus say that no one is greater than John, then there is hope for the rest of us.
Jesus wants us to believe in Him and to trust Him completely. But if we have doubts, Jesus is patient. He knows unwavering faith is hard. If we just keep seeking the truth, we eventually will find it, er, I mean, find Him.

And thankfully, we’re not required to go on the Adkins “grasshoppers and honey” diet plan! (Which is a relief, because I just stocked up on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — uh, for the trick-or-treaters, of course. Yeah, that’s it.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

‘Can I Get a Witness?!’

The other day I was walking out of a store. A man and woman were walking toward the entrance, and I noticed the writing on the man’s T-shirt said: “Team JESUS.” 

I thought to myself, “That’s nice. He’s witnessing for the Lord in a quiet, subtle way.” As the couple came closer to me, I was about to smile and say, “Hey, I like your shirt.”
But then the man turned toward the woman, and in a loud and angry voice shouted, “If that stinking jerk doesn’t knock it off, I’m gonna strangle the son of a gun!”

Except he didn’t use the words “stinking,” “jerk,” or “gun.” Instead, he used words that can only be said on streaming service TV shows rather than network broadcast shows, if you get my drift. In other words, if that man was a motion picture, he definitely would be R-rated.

As the man and woman passed me and entered the store, I was tempted to say, “Hey, I like your shirt. But if you’re gonna talk like that in public, you should leave the shirt home.”

I didn’t say anything, of course. And it would be nice if the reason I was silent was because I’m a very compassionate and understanding person, with no idea of the stress that man was under at the moment, and, therefore, I should never judge a person, let alone publicly admonish him, based on observing his behavior for all of two seconds. Yes, I wish that was why I refrained from saying anything. But the true reason is simpler: nowadays, you never know who has a gun in his pocket. Getting a couple of holes in my liver was not on my to-do list for that particular day.

That incident got me thinking about the concept of “witnessing.” As Christians, we’re called to witness for the Lord. That is, we should share our faith with others, and let them know how much our relationship with Jesus fills us with peace and joy.

In our secular culture, religious witnessing is frowned upon. It used to be that if someone talked openly about his religious faith, he often would be laughed at and called a “Jesus freak.” Ah, the good ol’ days. Now, if someone shares his faith in public, he often will be called a “hater,” and an angry social media campaign will be started to harass him and try to get him fired from his job. 

As someone who feels uncomfortable witnessing about my faith in public, I’ve always liked the saying: “You don’t have to tell everyone about Jesus, but if people do find out you’re a Christian, they should not be surprised.”
I don’t wear a “Team JESUS” T-shirt in public — mostly because I don’t own one — but I do have a colorful set of Rosary beads hanging from the rearview mirror on my car. I guess that is a small and subtle witness of my faith.

My daily commute to and from work on I-84 brings me near countless other motorists, a small number of whom actually drive carefully. The rest act as if they’re trying to win the Daytona 500. Many times after I’ve been cut off by one of these reckless drivers, I’m tempted to beep my horn and offer the “one finger salute.” But I refrain from this behavior.

It would be nice if the reason I did not flip off these aggressive drivers is because I’m a very compassionate and understanding person, with no idea of the stress the other driver may be under at the moment, and besides, it would be a terrible witness in light of the Rosary beads hanging from my mirror. 

Again, the true reason is simpler: I’d rather not get shot at.

Witnessing about our faith in Christ is certainly a good thing to do. But if our method is quiet and subtle — such as wearing a Jesus shirt or hanging a Rosary from the car mirror — it’s very important that our behavior matches the message. 
If our words and actions are allowed only on a streaming TV service or R-rated movie, then we’re probably doing it wrong.

Friday, October 14, 2022

On a Quest to Solve a Mess

I’d like to file a complaint, but I don’t even know where to begin. Here is what happened: Last month I received an invoice from a company called, um, let’s see, I’m not a big fan of getting sued, so let’s just say this company is called “Messed Diagnostics.” 
Apparently, this firm has a near monopoly on drawing blood and doing laboratory testing. During the last 20 years, every time I’ve had to get my blood tested, I visited one of this company’s multiple locations with the big green “Q” on their logo. No wait, I mean the big purple “M,” which stands for Messed Diagnostics. Yeah, yeah, that’s it.

Anyway, I got an invoice in the mail last month for $188.39. At first I thought, “Well, this is probably the portion of the bill that my insurance didn’t cover,” so I was about to put the invoice with the other bills that have to be paid by the end of the month. But before I did that, I looked at the details of the statement and noticed the date when I had my blood drawn was in October, 2021.

“Hey, wait a minute,” I said. “That was almost a year ago. And they’re just sending a bill for it now? That seems pretty odd.”

So, instead of putting the invoice on the “pay this month” pile, I brought it to work with me so I could ask the guy who manages our company’s benefits plan why I got billed today for something that happened 11 months earlier.

My place of employment is a fairly small company, so the fellow who manages the health insurance and pension plans is also the same guy who handles accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, and about 12 other tasks, including once in a while, when things are really busy out back, helping us unload tractor trailers of HVAC products.

This means our jack-of-all-trades Comptroller just LOVES to see me walking toward his office with medical invoices in my hand and a puzzled look on my face. This particular time, I was able to stick out my foot before he could slam his door on me, so he was forced to hear my tale of woe and put yet another annoying item on his extensive to-do list.
A couple of days later, he walked into my office — before I could slam the door on him — and he dumped a pile of paper on my desk. “The insurance company already paid this bill,” he said. “Here’s a copy of the check that Que–, er, I mean, Messed cashed last fall.”

Well, what do you know? The invoice was paid in full 11 months ago, and I have a copy of the check the insurance company sent, which Messed deposited into their bank account. And yet, they sent me a brand new invoice for that same service and I almost put it with the “pay this month” pile of bills. Hmm, I wonder how many other duplicate invoices they send out every month? 

A cynical person might suspect that our friends at Messed have a nice little deal going here to boost their bottom line. Good thing I’m not cynical, so I’m sure it was just a computer error. Oh, those wacky computers! Always sending out extra invoices by mistake, but never, it seems, sending out extra checks by mistake.
I’d like to file a complaint, but on the other hand, if the Messed computer system flags me as a trouble maker, the next time I need blood drawn, the technician might accidently stumble and plunge the needle into my throat. 

If you ask me, the whole thing seems kind of Messed up. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

‘You Say Goodbye, and I Say Halo’

Once in a while I get the chance to sit quietly in an empty church and gaze at the beautiful stained glass windows and poignant stations-of-the-cross sculptures. Sometimes I just shake my head in awe, overcome by the majesty and depth of our historic, world-changing faith. It’s quite a transcendent and spiritual experience, and when it happens I think to myself, “God is definitely real, and this is His house.”

And other times, in the exact same situation, I gaze at the amazing artwork in the church, and think to myself, “Man, those halos on the statues are so … weird!”

At the parish I attend, the stations-of-the-cross sculptures have what looks like a gold satellite dish attached to the back of Jesus’ head. No matter which way the Lord is looking –- up, down, left, or right –- the big, thick dish is always positioned directly behind His head. 
Now, of course, I get it: the halos in sacred art are supposed to indicate holiness radiating out from Jesus and all the saints. They represent the glow of the divine presence and the light of the Lord’s love. I’m sure the medieval artists who popularized halos thought it would be sacrilegious if they did not include them. But I’m also sure these same artists really struggled to include halos in a way that did not make their artwork look kind of goofy. Many times they did not succeed.

For example, after I started thinking about halos, I looked up a lot of medieval Church artwork online. There’s a painting by Giotto di Bondone, which is on display in the Scrovegni Chapel in my son-in-law’s hometown of Padua, Italy. (I’ve been there, when we traveled to Italy for the wedding. Wow, it was awesome!) 

Giotto’s painting depicts the Last Supper, and we look down at the scene from a slightly elevated point-of-view. Jesus is on the left side, at the head of the table, and He has a large, golden halo. The apostles on the far side of the table, who are looking directly out from the painting, have nice halos behind their heads. But the other apostles, the ones seated at the near side of the table, are looking directly away from us. We can only see the backs of their heads. Their halos look as if dinner plates were glued onto their faces. 
Additionally, the apostle John, who rested his head against Jesus’ chest, according to Scripture, has a tiny halo. This is because if it were the same size as the other guys’, it would hit Jesus right in the face. John’s halo looks like some weird first-century man bun.

I strongly suspect when Giotto was creating this work of art, he thought to himself, “Man, if I could just dump the halos, this painting would rock!” (On the other hand, maybe he didn’t say exactly that, since I am, admittedly, not too familiar with colloquial Padua expressions from the year 1305.) 

Interestingly, many years later, when Leonardo Da Vinci painted “The Last Supper,” he put all 13 people on one side of the long, narrow table (which, if you ever worked in the restaurant business, you know never happens). Da Vinci could’ve put nice halos behind everyone’s head (except Judas; he never gets a halo). But Leo just said, “Nah, no halos this time.” 

All these centuries later, Da Vinci’s masterpiece is THE most famous depiction of that momentous gospel event. The lack of halos does not detract at all from the sense of holiness.
So, Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” is proof that artists do not need to include awkward gold satellite dishes in their religious paintings and sculptures. The works of art are still sacred and reverent without halos.

However, I would gladly wear a gold satellite dish behind my head if it meant I’d have a high-speed internet connection no matter where I went. In my case, that might be my only chance to have a halo.

Friday, October 7, 2022

The ‘Geezer Report,’ Episode 826

People often send me email notes, asking some form of this question: “How come you constantly write about how old you are?”

C’mon now. I do not constantly write about how old I am. For example, back in February, I wrote an essay that had nothing to do with my age. The topic was telephones, and I described those heavy wall phones with rotary dials, the kind everyone had when I was a kid. I also mentioned how much telephones have changed since then, and noted that people my age are often befuddled by the complexity of modern phones. Oh wait. Hmm, I guess I did write about how old I am in that column.

OK, well, back in 2019, I wrote an essay that did not once mention my age. I really can’t remember exactly what that column was about, since there are three main features about getting old. The first is that you forget things, and, uh, I can’t remember the other two.
There is a simple reason why I occasionally write about my age. (I am, of course, using the definition of the word “occasionally” that means: “Every single sentence.”) The reason is that inside every old person is a young person wondering what the hell happened.

You see, all of these weekly humor essays (or as some have noted: “weak humor essays”) are based on what’s going on in my life. And the main thing that’s going on in my life is the stunning realization that I’m not young anymore, and now I have to deal with it.

For example, for my entire adult life up until recently, I had exactly two medical professionals, a dentist who I visited twice per year for X-rays and a cleaning, and a general practitioner for a routine annual physical. Then, beginning in my mid-50s, I added to that list: a dermatologist, because I had a couple of skin cancer things; a cardiologist, because I had some rapid heartbeat episodes; a urologist, because my GP thought having a prostate the size of a regulation softball might be a concern; an ophthalmologist, because there’s something weird going on with my right eye, and I didn’t understand a single word she said, but I have to go back soon to see if it’s improved; an orthopedic surgeon, because my football knee started acting up after four decades of being reasonably problem-free; and a proctologist, because those colonoscopies aren’t going to perform themselves.
I remember being about 10 years old, and I was convinced my grandmother, who was in her 70s at the time, had always been an elderly woman forever, dating back to at least George Washington’s time. Then I saw an old black and white photo of my grandmother when she was barely 20. It blew my mind. “Grandma used to be YOUNG?! Really?!”

Yes, it’s true that old people used to be young. Even at my age, the vast majority of my life has been spent being young (well, at least being not old). So, this is a completely new experience for me. I get it that 10-year-olds (and certain 30-year-old coworkers) think I’ve been 65 years old forever, dating back to at least Abe Lincoln’s time. Gee whiz, I was only a kid when I met Teddy Roosevelt. 
Being old isn’t really so bad. It’s just a bit of a surprise. The best thing about being my age is that I don’t really care anymore what others think about me. So, no matter how many email notes I receive, I’m still going to write about what’s on my mind. And right now what’s on my mind is this: why did I just get up and come into this room? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Does This ‘Hero’ Deserve 1,000 Tax-payer Dollars?

The State of Connecticut recently set up a pandemic bonus program, which is offering payments of $1,000 to “Coronavirus heroes.” The heroes are employees in various “essential” private-sector industries, where the workers were unable to do their jobs remotely.

State Comptroller Natalie Baswell recently said, “There has been incredible enthusiasm for this program. These workers were on the front lines during the worst of the pandemic, making tremendous personal sacrifices on our behalf.” 
You’re probably thinking this program is designed to reward nurses, doctors, grocery store employees, nursing home staff, and the other folks who were at risk during the pandemic. Remember back in 2020, when there were no vaccines and people were dying left and right? Yeah, it was pretty dicey there for a while. Many workers had to come in direct contact with dozens of strangers everyday, and healthcare professionals were in contact constantly with people infected with the virus.

Well, this State program is not that narrowly focused. I know this is true because I qualify for a bonus. No, really. Me, Mr. Engineering Sales guy, actually qualifies. You see, one of the industries that was designated as “essential” is the construction industry. So, anyone connected in any way with construction and who was unable to work from home qualifies for a thousand bucks. Where I work we supply HVAC equipment to commercial contractors, and we’re not set up to work remotely. When the pandemic hit, our owners said, “Keep coming in to work, wear a mask, and don’t get near each other.” 

And that’s what we did. We all came in every day, kept our distance, and no one got sick. Comptroller Baswell may think I was “on the front lines” and that I made “tremendous personal sacrifices,” but that’s not exactly true. Unless, of course, you consider eating lunch at your desk a tremendous personal sacrifice. That was the main sacrifice I made, rather than eat in the conference room or go out and grab something at Chick-fil-A or Subway. Oh, I also made the major sacrifice of wearing a chin hammock all day long, which I would pull up over my nose and mouth if anyone came near me. (Unless I had to speak and be understood. Then the mask would revert back to the chin hammock position.)
When this State bonus program was announced a few months ago, someone in my office made copies of the news article and gave one to everybody, saying, “Hey, we qualify! Go to this website, fill out the application, and the State will send you a check for a grand!”

OK, now here is the really sad part of this story. Even though I am not even remotely a “Coronavirus hero,” I thought to myself, “Hmm, if they’re handing out free money, well, why not?”

So, I filled out the application and immediately felt really guilty about it. My conscience has been reminding me that I already received a wonderful bonus during the COVID pandemic: I never missed a paycheck. There are a whole lot of people out there who can’t say the same, especially in the restaurant and hotel industries.

An interesting twist is that the State set aside enough money to fund this program — but only if 30,000 or less people apply. As of a month ago, more than 10 times that number, well over 300,000 people, signed up for the bonus money. By the time everyone who is eligible applies, we all might end up getting a check for about 47 bucks.
Whatever the amount ends up being, I’ve already decided to donate mine to charity. Otherwise, my goody two-shoes conscience will never stop bugging me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Sunday Morning Mystery

Recently, my wife and I moved, and now we go to Mass at a church in our new town. This parish does something very mysterious. At the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass, just before the Scripture readings, the priest invites all the children in the church to come up near the sanctuary. Then he offers a blessing for the 20 to 30 kids, and dismisses them. They all leave with a couple of adults, and the Mass continues for the rest of us who are still in the pews.

About 20 minutes later, often right in the middle of the Creed, the children burst into the church and run back to whichever pew their parents are in. Not surprisingly, they’re not exactly quiet as they do this. It sounds kind of like a herd of buffalo on the move, except I’m pretty sure buffaloes rarely emit high pitched giggles and shout, “Hi Mommy!”
When this happens, it takes a lot of concentration not to lose your place while reciting the Creed. And even if you don’t lose your place, I’ve discovered it’s kind of difficult to continue reciting the Creed when you’re trying really hard not to laugh out loud. 

I’ve witnessed this at Mass a number of times now, but no one has ever explained what is going on. I assume it’s some kind of children’s liturgy event, but I’m really not sure. I suppose I could ask someone after Mass, like the priest or deacon. But that would mess up my regular Sunday morning routine of trying to be the first car out of the parking lot. 

So, for the time being this is a mystery. I am very curious about what the kids do for those 20 minutes during the middle of Mass. Where do they go? What do they do when they get there? And most importantly, are there snacks involved?

In the absence of any firm data, I can always count on my vivid imagination to fill in the blanks. Here goes: I suspect the children go to a nearby classroom and study St. Thomas Aquinas’ five philosophical proofs for the existence of God. Or maybe they get crayons and color.
What do they color? Good question. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s most likely a picture of St. Thomas Aquinas, playing beach volleyball, with Jesus as his teammate, and St. Francis of Assisi and John the Baptist as their opponents. And I’m not sure why John the Baptist has a camel’s hair Speedo. On second thought, that’s probably not the picture they’re coloring. It’s probably Jesus holding a lamb. Or a ham. No wait, definitely not a ham. 

Speaking of ham, I wonder if the kids have some scrambled eggs and ham, with toast and coffee, of course, while they’re away from the main church. There was a major addition to the church building last year, and I heard part of the renovation included a new social area with kitchen facilities. The kids might as well enjoy some ham and eggs while they’re on their mystery adventure. I know I sure could use some breakfast at about 9:30 on Sunday morning.
Well, now that I think about it, maybe relying on my vivid imagination to fill in the blanks wasn’t such a good idea. It looks like I’ll just have to hang back after Mass one of these days and ask the priest or deacon what’s going on. Too bad I won’t be entered in the “first out of the parking lot” competition that day. But that’s OK. It will be worth it if I finally find out what’s up. And if the priest or deacon wants to go out and get some ham and eggs for breakfast, I’m buying.