Church wasn’t my favorite thing as a little boy.
Not that I hated it. Like bedtime and math, church served a function in life. I had the sense of its moral compass, fueled heavily by tradition with a dash of fear. (My Sunday school teacher told us all the bad words we weren’t to use; she also warned us we’d go to Hell if we yawned in church.)
My church, though, seemed a circus with free cotton candy when compared to Margarita’s.
On birthdays, back in the 70s and 80s, your mom could bring cupcakes for the class. Mine many years was “class size – 1.” Margarita left quietly before the celebration of icing and noise and a spirited game of Thumbs Up could begin. I wonder how many kids noticed?
I always did, and I always wondered.
Margarita took all science tests and lined up with the rest of us for recess. Demure and sweet, she never got out of line. In fact, she cried softly while the class got reamed for abusing a sub. Margarita was the only kid who behaved.
I always wondered what became of her. What she thought of the rest of us, so high on sugar and low on self-discipline. Mom told me her family belonged to the Jehovah’s Witness Church, a place of mystery and no Christmas lights. Until today, I hadn’t thought of them much.
When they’d come to the door and stuff pamphlets describing their brand of salvation, I couldn’t even understand. The literature depicted faces brown like mine, with Spanish words, of which I knew little. Today will be my first dive into what they believe, thanks to Grace.
1. If Jehovah’s Witness don’t celebrate birthdays or Christmas, how do they get new stuff?
Kids receive gifts from their parents year round, just not on their birthdays.
According to JW.org, birthdays aren’t celebrated – not even Jesus’. Birthdays have pagan roots, including candles, which are believed to have special powers for wish-granting. The site says Jesus’ death (Easter) is more significant than his birth (Christmas.)
It cites Hebrews 1:4, which says “By the end of his life on Earth, Jesus had made a good name with God, making the day of his death more important than the day of his birth.”
2. Is Amazon like Netflix?
The parts that overlap between the two are alike.
You can’t, for instance, buy thermal underwear or Bug Bots from Netflix. I’ve done those things on Amazon. I haven’t, though, watched video from Amazon. It’s available though. Netflix delivers nothing but video content; Amazon does that, and is famous for much more.
It’s like going to Walmart to buy tropical fish. You might be better off getting fish at a store that specializes in fish. Or, maybe your luck will be just as good at place you can also buy a Subway Sandwich, get a haircut and stock up on Duck Dynasty casual and glassware.
3. Do umpires wear padding?
They’re as padded up as a catcher – but only half as padded up as a goalkeeper.
An ump has to get right in there behind the catcher to see the pitch delivered. It’s an inexact science performed at an inopportune angle. How can a guy in a mask obstructed by a catcher determine with any validity whether a ball thrown at 93 mph crossed over a 17-inch slab of rubber?
Umpires wear extensive padding: A facemask, a chest protector, pads that cover the nee and lower leg, and plate shoes, that protect the toe and upper foot. Oh, and the smart ones wear a cup. Why?
4. What’s so bad about elbows on the table?
That’s what I’m barking, kiddo.
I feel more comfortable with elbows on the table, particularly during taco night. Or when we’ve had to divvy up pizza slices. You savage children aren’t above swiping a spare rib or cheese stick off my plate. You think baboons are casual about how they protect their vittles?
I just imagined Grace Kelly doing that with me in a buffalo wings joint, and it certainly made sense.
It’s an outdated kid-shaming technique, on the order of “your face is going to stay that way” or “clean your plate – there are starving kids in china” or “you’re going to turn into cheese and butter because that’s all you eat.” (Wait, was that just for me?)
Etiquette goddess Emily post implores women, when in a noisy restaurant, to lean in on their elbows to be part of the conversation, saying such posture “makes a more graceful outline.” I just imagined Grace Kelly doing that with me in a buffalo wings joint, and it certainly made sense.
5. Is it true that we’re upside down on earth, but our brains make us think we’re right-side up?
It’s like the whole concept of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump supporters, too, if you think about it.
Who’s to say which way is up? Is up only in one spot in Greenland, where the globe model tells us is on top? Even in Dominican Republic, near the equator, I didn’t feel as if I’d suddenly fall sideways into the abyss, or even spill my rum and Coke Light.
Upside down as a concept comes with its own set of uncertains.
Our brains probably do trick us both then, the hungry writer and the tired Australian fisherman.
Right here, right now, in Waltham, Mass., I fee ever bit vertical. My bum’s down, my head is up. At exactly the same spot on the opposite side of the earth – off the southwestern coast of Australia – maybe there’s a dude on a fishing boat who feels like he’s the same way.
Our brains probably do trick us both then, the hungry writer and the tired Australian fisherman. Sounds like a decent non-birthday present for us both.