Sunday, October 5, 2008

Love, Liturgy and Lettuce

The year was 1985, I was 20 years old, a full time student and full time employee at the local funeral home in a small town outside of Orlando Florida. One of my jobs was to drive the town's only priest, Fr. McGee to and from funerals he was asked to deliver. The old priest took a shine to me. I told him how I was planning on becoming a preacher, he tried to recruit me, I explained that there was no way I'd ever swear to a life of celibacy. Give up pizza for life, maybe, the act we do not speak of, never.

One hot August afternoon the priest tried again. I confirmed once again I would not make the vow. He asked me my age. I told him twenty. He went into a story.

The effects of the population explosion in Florida was being felt in our little town. Dozens of new members were joining the church every month. All new members were required to attend a series of classes. Once the classes were successfully completed the candidates would make a sacrifice for the church, much like Lent. The priest would determine the sacrifice each member in waiting would make.

Recently, there were three married couples in the group. A couple in their 50's, a couple in the 30's and a newlywed couple in their 20's. "I called the three couples into my office together", explained Fr. McGee in his authoritative tone as I drove the tree lined streets leading to his home.

"As you are all married, I thought I'd ask each of you to make the same sacrifice." he recounted. "I would like you all to go three weeks without relations".

I laughed then immediately felt embarrassed, the Padre was so serious. I apologized for the disrespect.

Fr. McGee went on seemingly not noticing my rude outburst. He explained that the three couples looked at their respective spouses searching each others eyes in silence for affirmation. Almost in unison the group of six looked back at the priest and said, "It's for the Church Father, we'll do it."

Three weeks passed. Fr. McGee explained that he called the couples in separately to discuss their sacrifice as it was now a confidential matter.

The couple in their 50's came in.

"Welcome back, how did you do with your sacrifice?" asked the kindly old priest.

Without looking at his wife, the husband snorted, "we haven't had relations in three months Father, three weeks was a breeze."

I was astonished but the priest didn't notice. He went on.

"No, no, no" he admonished the indignant husband, "you go out right now,take your wife to a nice dinner at Mario's. Get a table in a dark corner where the candle light illuminates your beautiful wife's face. Go home and fulfill your marriage vows." Fr. McGee recounted the speech as if he was delivering it right there in the funeral homes big black Fleetwood. "Welcome to the church."

"Next I called in the couple in their 30's. The wife looked very nervous, constantly smoothing her dress. The husband was biting his nails and looked very edgy" said the priest looking up to his right as he remembered the scene. "Well," Fr. McGee asked gently expecting the worst, "how did you do with your sacrifice?"

"We made it three weeks Father!" the husband said almost screaming. "When is this sacrifice over?"

Smiling gently, the priest warmly replied, "Welcome to the church, go home and bring forth lots of children for the flock."

Finally the newlyweds came in. The wife couldn't make eye contact with the priest. She fidgeted with her hair nervously. The husband had a sheepish grin on his face looking like the cat that ate the canary.

"Well, how did you make out with the sacrifice?" asked the priest warily.

"Father you are a man of the cloth, I'm not going to lie to you." the husband started out sounding like he wanted to negotiate a deal.

"The first week was tough but we made it." said the husband. "The second week....three cold showers a day." now looking down sullenly, the husbands countenance changed. "Father, the third week, my wife bent over to pick up a head of lettuce. Father I lost control, forgive me but we made love right there on the floor"

Fr. McGee fought with his emotion not wanting to delver the bad news. "My son, I appreciate the fact that you made two weeks but the sacrifice called for three. You are an honest and noble man but I'm afraid I cannot accept you as members".

The husband's head snapped up and he exclaimed, "That's OK Father, we're not allowed int he grocery store anymore either".



Melanie said...


Cliff said...


I will think about that when I eat my salad at lunch.

Michelle said...

LOL! That was a great story!

Frasypoo said...

Will never look at a head of lettuce the same way again!!
I always crack up when I hear the words"having relations"...very genteel !