This morning, we were at the Catholic church – unfamiliar territory for yours truly. Okay, granted, Protestant church aint exactly familiar territory for me either on account of my spotty attendance record of late (“late” being the humongous gap between early high school and now), but I was raised Protestant and have a basic sense of how things roll in the old holy hood. “What’s that?”you say. “Protestant? But your Italian!” True. Somewhere in my vast blog archive, I’ve already gone over how my mother was once a minister of the United Church and how my father was raised Catholic until the day his younger sister caught a beating from a local nun that so enraged my grandmother she chased off an apologetic priest with a broom, renounced her Catholic faith, and converted to Protestantism. Run a search for “Catholic” and “broom”. I’m sure you’ll be able to track it down.
Anyway, today, we were at the Catholic Church. After exchanging condolences and chatting about jury duty and Istanbul as a vacation destination with a distant relative, we all headed inside. Moments later, the coffin was rolled in (allowing the pallbearers to push rather than do any actual heavy lifting which really is a bit of a cheat when you consider they‘re not doing any actual “bearing“). The priest approached, said a few words, and then everyone bowed their heads to observe a moment of silence. Some thirty seconds into the extended hush – CLAK! – what sounded like a snapping whip broke the stillness. I hazarded a peek and watched an elderly man look down at the cane he had dropped then glance up to see if anyone had noticed. I dropped my gaze to avoid embarrassing him. Another twenty seconds of silence and – CLAK! In an attempt to surreptitiously pick up the cane, he had dropped it again. Perhaps having lost patience, the priest launched into a murmured a prayer that ABRUPTLY BOOMED THROUGH THE ENTIRE CHAMBER AS HIS MICROPHONE SUDDENLY KICKED IN!!!
The procession made its way to the front where the priest assumed his position at the pulpit. Then ensued a church version of Simon Says with mourners standing, sitting, kneeling, crossing, and murmuring at various points throughout the service with no apparent rhyme or reason. At first I figured I’d be the lagger but it quickly became evident that fully a third of those in attendance hadn’t a clue what to do. At certain points, a handful would suddenly stand, prompting others to join them, only to have some retake their seats with the realization that the standing wasn’t unanimous. As they would retake their seats, still others would rise, leaving those who had just cast their lot with the sitters to reconsider their allegiance, causing some to stand up once again. While others were in the process of retaking their seats. It was like watching one of those pop-a-weasels in action. Half way through the service, the woman sitting in front of me jumped to her feet, presuming the next movement – and guessed wrong. She was on her feet for a full minute, seemingly willing everyone to join her. No one did. After a while, she glanced around in bewilderment and retook her seat, mortified.
I’m conversational in Italian but couldn’t understand most of what the priest was saying on account of him being a bit of a low-talker. I wish I’d paid closer attention because, partway through his talk, I heard the fellow sitting behind me mutter: “Wrong sermon.”
After the sermon wrapped, a guy with hair like Harry and Norman Osborn from the Spiderman comics gave a speech. While he was talking, I heard a bit of a commotion from the back of the church. One of the church elders approached the spotlight family member – still in mid-speech – and said something to him before trundling off. Harry/Norman finished up and, as he stepped off, another priest stepped in and informed those gathered that they could pay their condolences at the cemetery as there was another funeral waiting to come in and if everyone could file out as quickly as possible that would be great. Stunned looks were exchanged, the music swelled, the coffin was wheeled out, and everyone followed in orderly fashion, passing the second-shift mourners in waiting, their coffin poised and read to roll.
Tomorrow, we’ll be at the Protestant church, one block up. I believe we have the venue all afternoon and, as such, won’t have to worry about being bumped by a second memorial service, women’s choir practice, or charity bingo.
Last night, as expected, I had the meal to end all meals. We were at Au Pied de Cochon – the one place I absolutely have to visit whenever I’m in Montreal. And with good reason. This is Quebec-style comfort food at its finest. On the menu, you’ll find everything from rustic French onion soup to the freshest of seafood platters. But the one item that Au Pied is known – and keeps me coming back – is foie gras in all its forms: cured, pan-fried, in tarts and terrines, crowning hamburgers, stuffed in pig’s feet, served atop duck. Surprisingly, they haven’t incorporated into the dessert menu yet – but maybe that’s for the best because their dessert menu is mighty outrageous on its own.
Here’s a pictorial rundown of my dinner:
P.S. I went out and bought my mom a t.v. set yesterday.
She hates it.