The "something closer" option has been a bit problematic lately as well. You're supposed to belong to a parish, not just show up weekly to check off the box. But I am loathe to join my mother's parish as practically everyone there is significantly older than me -- and more moneyed. What would I possibly talk to to them about? Plus she's a bit of a celebrity there and middle age hasn't entirely knocked the adolescence out of me. It's probably worth mentioning, too, that her parish was built right during the "make it ugly" years of church architecture that followed upon the Second Vatican Council. As for the next closest church, well, let's put it this way: the kids I knew who went there all ended up a little shell shocked. Either that or man was made for the sabbath after all and the rest of us are simply deluded. And the next closest parish after that one I really like, but my life has been too irregular to make any acquaintances yet. So, then, mass with Oma it is.
Another plus of the Oma option is that she often treats us all to dinner afterwards -- a good proposition to dangle in front of a fidgety young one when the homily starts to drag. The problem this time is that she is nowhere to be found. Usually she and the other Eucharistic Ministers duck into the back room after mass to clean up and, I assume, catch up on the gossip. But this time she doesn't show up, nor is she still back there, because I went and checked. But by this time the big shindig has started up in the Parish Hall, celebrating something or other, I never know these things. But it must be important because they put out some pretty choice platters of cheese, sausage, grapes, carrots, and the like and two buffet lines full of rather heavenly smelling fare. Wine and beer was to be had over in the corner. Tablecloths, too, and Tony Bennett singing the standards. Classy. And as we later find out, no kids allowed. But we don't know that, so M., J. and S. stand there chowing on the delectibles, periodically running out onto the veranda to warm themselves at the firepit.
After a while I figure Oma simply left for home, so I rally the kids to move on. But here's the thing. Probably because of the shindig the lot had been completely full and I ended up parking along side the road off on the gravel. So we have a little further to go. And when we get there there are three police cars, a firetruck holding up three incredibly bright spotlights and my car, the "big black bus", a 2011 Highlander facing backwards some 20 yards from where I had parked it. What? And beyond it, I see, a Cadillac they're wrenching the door off of to get the driver out. Had we been turned back at the vegetable table and gone straight home, we probably would have been getting in (an involved process) when the crash occurred.
The upshot is that the Highlander is dead, and with it my hopes of having three ample rows of seats for the duration of my driving dad years. Because in a sense the crash was really something of a reprieve: I had been getting 20 mpg, and driving some 40 miles a day. Youch. And now I found out that I had not, in fact, opted for "gap insurance" during that flurry of paperwork at the dealership, which meant I had to cover what insurance wouldn't in replacing the Highlander. Youch again. I drove around a rental for three weeks, hoping it would all just go away. Then, just before my rental was up (again), I schlepped M., J., and S. to the dealership and had them watch Teen Titans in the next room while I leased a Hybrid Camry. I sat down with them and explained the whys and they seemed to accept it. Maybe we'll rent a big black bus the next time we go on vacation. For now, though, I get to drive around all day with the fuel guage locked on 'F'.