My Catholic friend Rebecca has a Catholic kid who had to have a Catholic christening at the Catholic church on the Catholic beach (just kidding...the beach isn't Catholic). Anyway, I was under the naive impression that the christening would involve naming and God blessing the official Godfather of the Catholic kid who had to be a Catholic himself. I know that there are Catholic rules out there about who has an "in" and the whole Godfather business is serious. Apparently, the Godfather is an extension of the family, a sort of big daddy type who buys the kid presents and serves as the guardian, heaven forbid, should the biologicals make like a tree and leave. We Baptists do it the hard way, I suppose, by having legal documents like wills drawn up to determine who gets Dick and Jane. So, imagine my surprise when Rebecca asked my husband, the guy who is as far from Catholic as the ocean is wide, to be her son's Godfather. I wondered if they knew something that I didn't about my husband, like maybe he had a secret Catholic upbringing that he refused to let me in on. Either way, my husband (he has a name and it is Daniel) was completely honored to be little Garland's Godfather. I imagined him dressed in a pin striped suit, hair slicked back, looking slyly from left to right to see if anyone was tailing him. He was nervous about what to expect at the christening, but Rebecca assured him that he could follow her lead and that all the Catholics would just love him to pieces.
At mid-service, my saint straddling Baptist daughter decided it was time to go potty, so we snuck out the side door and carried on with our business. Upon reentering the church, I noticed a long line of folks with no Godfather or Catholic friend in sight. What to do??? Being a team player, I decided that the best course of action would be to join right in and get in line behind them. Being ever so observant, I watched as the priest placed a cookie in the mouths of the folks in line. This looked vaguely familiar to me, so I just did what the other, more experienced people in line were doing. Besides, it was almost high noon and my stomach was growling like a wild boar. Lindsay's bag of Teddy Grahams were history, so I was sure that having a little snack for her wouldn't hurt. As we approached the priest, he placed the cookie (which really wasn't) in our mouths and I attempted my best sign of the cross (still backwards because I hadn't learned the right way yet). Feeling as pleased as punch that I was really starting to fit in, I looked to my left and saw Rebecca. Her face was red and her head bowed low and I really thought she saw me wave (she didn't wave back). Only after the service did I realize that I did something really bad. I, a non-Catholic, accepted holy communion...and so did my Baptist kid. Apparently, this is a really big no-no in the Catholic circles. I kept my non-Catholocism on the down low the rest of the afternoon and ,when my daughter Lindsay did anything wrong, I responded with a loud, "Stop that Mary Catherine," just to be on the safe side.