Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Mornings

By Pauly
New York City

When I was really young, like seven or eight years old, I hated Sunday mornings because my father would wake my ass up and drag me to church. I used to pretend to be asleep or come up with a dozen excuses why I didn't want to go to 9:30am mass. My mother didn't go and I used to cite that as a reason why I did not have to go. My father vaguely explained that she had to stay at home and watch my brother, but that excuse grew paper thin as my brother got older.

My mother has never been a religious person and rarely attended church. She often said that the ones sitting in the first rows in church were often the biggest sinners in the parish and they were only going to church to keep up appearances. Years later, my politically ambitious uncle would be among the hypocrites sitting in the front row. The rest of the family grew more and more disenfranchised with the Catholic church and we started sitting farther and farther away, until we all stopped attending services.

I guess it was that twenties-ridden-angst or the fact that every Gen Xer rejected their parent's religion, but I couldn't even handle cafeteria Catholicism. For almost a decade, the only time I stepped foot in a church was for a wedding. That abruptly ended and a morose trend began with a slew of empty coffin 9.11 funerals. Since then, it seems that the only times I stepped inside a church is for a funeral.

I also have a suit that I call the Grim Reaper suit. For a while, I only wore it at funerals and weddings. And at the five weddings I wore the suit (between 1997 and 2001), only one marriage lasted. That's a 80% failure rate. I'm afraid to wear that suit to anything but a funeral.

In the fourth grade I became an altar boy and my stance on church changed drastically. All of a sudden I looked forward to Sunday mornings. For a while, I'd get up early and serve the 8am mass so I could enjoy the rest of my Sunday.

The late 1970s and early 1980s where the dark ages as far as computers and the internet. My only relationship with the outside world were the Sunday papers. There was the local paper which came with the Sunday comics. Then there was the massive pile of newsprint called the Sunday Times. My father would slowly sift through the pile. The older I got, the more sections I read. Little did I know that an innocuous Sunday tradition were the origins of part of the reason I am a writer today, as I read about subjects that I was eons away from comprehending, like the fall of the Shah in Iran or the energy crisis.

When I lived in Atlanta during college, NBC used to broadcast doubledheader NBA games. That was back in the mid-1990s during the NY Knicks halcyonian years with Pat Riley at the helm. The almost always played the noon game. We had a routine where we'd watch the games in Jerry's room. He and I were among the smattering Knicks fans in our fraternity house, which seemed to be dominated by Bulls and Sixers fans. Sometimes he'd get a big crowd for the Knicks game and it would be standing room only. And of course, the peanut gallery almost always the majority rooted against the Knicks.

My favorite part of Sunday was what we did before the games started. Either Rib or Jerry would wake me up at 11am. I'd be wicked hungover and they'd drive me to McDonalds. That was back in the days when you could eat like a king for $3. We quickly devoured our fast food, washing them down with cheap beer and bong hits before tip off. I loved Sundays when I lived in Atlanta.

When I lived in Seattle, I held four crappy jobs and had to work on Sundays at the museum. Most of the time, I got baked in the parking lot and just stood around making sure the post-church and post-brunch crowd kept their grubby mitts off the paintings. Sunday nights were the fun times. My friends and/or housemates would gather in my room for bingers and a viewing of The Simpsons and the X-Files.

And at the beginning of the 21st century, when I lived in New York City, I had a Sunday routine with my brother during the autumn months where we religiously watched the Jets games. I'd arrive at his apartment at noon with bagels, just in time to watch the pre-game NFL shows. We'd do last minute adjustments to our fantasy football rosters, make a last minute pick on our sheets, or get a bet it just before kickoff at the 1pm game.

A Sunday routine has been void from my life the last few years. I kinda miss that. What I don't miss is the dreaded Sunday Night Blues.

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