It was a typical Christmas Eve Mass. Everyone was there: Mom, Dad, Sis, me, and my brother Spalpeen. Like all the other families there, it was our mandatory “must-attend” church session of the year.
It started out as a typical Catholic Mass. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. A letter of St. Paul to the Emphysemans. Stand up, sit down. Lord I am not worthy to receive you, etc. etc.
We knew the routine. You can set your watch to a Catholic Mass.
My brother and I kept glancing at each other, bored. He had that gleam in his eye, like he was up to mischief. I started to smile. My Dad sensed this and “shushed” us.
More standing up. Sitting down. Another reading, this time from St. Peter to the Crustaceans or something. I was bored. Was it time to go home yet?
But since this was Christmas Eve, a Very Special Day, the Mass was slightly different. The priest asked all the young children to come up to the altar, next to the creche, and he invited them to sing Christmas Carols to the Little Baby Jesus.
My brother and I were fortunately far too old for this, and we were spared this ordeal. But all the little magotty toddlers and five-year olds started to shuffle up to the front, where the priest welcomed them.
My God. Were they SERIOUS? Were they actually going to make us listen to the kids SING?
Picture the scenario. Me and my brother, both bored to tears. With everyone else so serious and holy (after all, it was Christ’s birth).
And now, they take a bunch of snot-nosed kids we don’t even know…who were going to act cute and start singing to the congregation.
If they were trying to deliberately set us up for the Mother of All Giggle Fits…they couldn’t have planned it any better..
I was already starting to laugh. I glanced sideways, and saw my brother staring at me. He lifted his eyebrow ever so slightly. He knew that would get me going.
(Shut up, Spalpeen, you’re going to make me laugh..shut up..shut up…SHUT UP!)
“SHHH!!!” warmed my Dad.
“Pffffffft…!”, I snickered into my sleeve. I refused to look at Spalpeen.
I knew it was a matter of time before I made a complete jack-ass of myself. But like a run-away train ready to jump the tracks, it was inevitable. I couldn’t help it.
Now the overhead projector was turned on, displaying the lyrics of the song that would be sung. It was the Huron Christmas Carol: some dumb story about the Indians in the forest meeting baby Jesus.
(Which, by the way, I didn’t think would have ever ACTUALLY happened, but that was besides the point).
The rug-rats then started to sing:
Twas in the moon of winter-time,
When all the birds had fled,
Oh. My. God.
Can this be any more LAME?
I’m laughing through my nose…making snorting sounds, trying to keep it inside. I look over at Spalpeen, and he’s not doing much better. Then the kids start singing the 2nd verse:
That mighty Gitchi-Manitou
Sent angel-choirs instead;
This is were I totally lost it.
I mean, COME ON!!!
What the HELL is a GITCHI MANITOU?
That had to be the STUPIDEST thing I’d ever heard!
And the kids…the kids (hee! hee! hee! My God!…) They were so EARNEST as they were singing this…! And the adults are eating this all up…look at them…they’re actually ENJOYING this!
(HAHAHAH!). At this point, I was shaking and shuddering with convulsions of laughter….while still trying to hold it in and keep my brain from exploding. Tears streamed down my face. My brother was doing exactly the same.
Every other parishioners within 20 feet of us looked at us, puzzled. Sis pretended we didn’t exist. Mom rolled her eyes, and seemed resigned to accept the fact that her two sons were retarded.
Oh, poor Dad.
He was LIVID. He was trembling with rage, he was so embarrassed. His lips were clenched so tight, they were turning purple.
You know how in cartoons how someone literally blows their top? (…where the scalp detaches itself from the head and does flips before it lands back, intact?)
Well, Dad came THAT close to doing that, in real life.
“SSHHHH!” he glared at us.
His blazing eyes and his body language made it clear…we were to stop misbehaving. And…RIGHT NOW…!!!
Which, as you can guess, only made us laugh harder.
No disrespect to Dad, but we were beyond help, at this point.
Forbidden Laughter is the best kind. This is the laughter you just want to let out when you’re not supposed to. Like in public places, job interview, funerals, …and, in this case, CHURCH.
And forbidden laughter can’t be stopped…it has to be allowed to run its course.
I don’t know how long my conniption fit went on. I totally forgot the stupid Christmas Carol (and any of the other Carols they sung after that).
Every time I though I was done, all I had to do was look at my brother and (PPPPFFF! MMMPPH!!) we’d both get hysterical again. We tag-teamed. One would stop…and the other one would start.
Finally, after what seemed like the longest time…we regained a semblance of self-control. The occasional giggle would still escape, but we were done. Thank God it was over. And a good thing, too, as we were approaching the serious part of the mass.
And then, that’s when Spalpeen looked at me….
(Shut up…shut up…shut up….Don’t say anything…shut UP…HMmm PFfff…on no…he’s going to say something…!)
“The Gitchi Manitou’s gonna get you”.
Oh, no. You bastard…! You DIDN’T JUST SAY THAT (Snicker..giggle..PFFFFT…SNORT! HHMMPH!! HAHAHAH!)
Right back to square one. I’m a basket case again, in a matter of seconds.
And it took even longer for me to calm down this 2nd time around.
Dad had burst several blood vessels at this point. And I was probalby going to Hell for behaving this way. But I was unstoppable.
Forbidden Laughter is a harsh mistress. She will not let you go until she decides you’re done.
You’d think Spalpeens’ last attempt at shit-disturbing would have been enough.
He spent the entire mass doing just this…whispering quietly to me, setting me off again and again. Each time by merely uttering ”Gitchi Manitou…”.
Not to mention:
When it was FINALLY over, and we walked home, suffice to say Spalpeen and I both got an earful from Dad.
We still talk about it today, 16 years later.
You see, kids will be kids.
Even if the “kids” were into their early/mid twenties at the time.