The drug store has moved, but it still smells the same as it did when I went there to buy Archie comics as a kid. Inside the entrance there is a fortune-telling machine that gives your "wate and fate" for a penny. I gave it a try last weekend. I dropped my penny through the top middle slot and I got this message:
"More church and fewer nightclubs would do you some good."
Say what? I have spent several lifetimes in church, thank you. Languished through hours of sermons during the prime years of my nubile youth. My church-goin' dues are paid IN FULL. I decided to try the machine again. There were five different coin slots, so I put my penny in a different slot the second time around. Ka-chung! (Mechanical noises). I looked down and read my message. Accckk! It was the same as before.
Well some how or other, I did wind up in a church before the weekend was out. But I only went there to eat. Mom talked me into going to some interfaith ladies potluck thing. I agreed to go because it was a gathering of women from competing churches, and because they were meeting in the Methodist church, which seemed safe and neutral to me, kind of like Switzerland.
Most of the women at the potluck were elderly. They were neatly dressed, and came bearing churchy salads containing Cool Whip and marshmallows, Jello and marshmallows, Cool Whip and Jello and marshmallows. The colors of their salads were bright and unworldy: Vulcan Lime, Interplanetary Pink, Alien Orange.
The women ate serenely and chatted quietly about how good the salads were. Then came the surprise of the evening. They turned their chairs towards the wall to watch a slide show about troubled youths growing up in desperate circumstances, who are removed from crack houses and abusive environments and turned over to the state. Turns out the Methodists run the Thrift Shop downtown, and part of the proceeds support the programs at Youthville, a child welfare agency which helps children all over the state of Kansas. The docile setting of that church basement with those white-haired ladies seemed a world away from the social ills being described to us.
On Mother's Day we went to the potato bar in the cafeteria of Sacred Heart Elementary, an appendage of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. We ate more fluffy salads in bright colors, containing Cool Whip, Jello and marshmallows. We also ate veggie salads containing varying ratios of bacon bits, mayonnaise and peas.
There is some ingredient in these salads that makes me eat more than I should. Maybe it's the spaced out colors. Maybe it's the shapelessness, that makes me lose all sense of proportion. I need sober food with defined edges, lest I become a blimp. It's a good thing I don't live out there.