Monday, October 13, 2008

Awkward (times two)

I was in Iowa for the weekend! (Look how I faked excitement for that one.) Actually, it was pretty awesome. I had someone sub for me on Friday and we took the whole day to drive down. We went across to Wisconsin and down highway 61 instead of interstate to interstate. The fall colors are just starting to turn and the trees were gorgeous. The occasion for the trip was Grandma and Grandpa's 65th wedding anniversary. 65! People! That is more than twice as long as I've been alive! 65!

Okay, it was a lovely event and did I mention that Grandma and Grandpa are like the hippest 80-somethings I know? (Our wedding photographer LOVED them. I feel like our pictures should have been entitled NGS and BB's wedding featuring Grandma and Grandpa.) We got to go to a high school football game that I enjoyed a ton! But, there were some awkward moments with the in laws.

1) I had to go to Catholic mass on Saturday before the big celebration dinner. I hate the going to church part. Seriously. It makes me want to throw up when I think about having to go again soon. I think I'm going to opt out of masses from here on out (unless it involves a wedding, I guess). Anyway, first of all, the priest (a cousin!) read this parable that essentially said if you haven't been baptized and confirmed and whatnot, you're going to get stoned. I was. . . displeased. The giving of communion is always awkward, too, as I stand up, walk to the end of the pew, let everyone else go, then sit back down. I swear I heard whispering behind us about the fact that BB and I stayed behind. (Even more confusing for me is that I believe BB would go get communion if the wafer wouldn't make him sick. Just to avoid the shit with his family.)

Then, if you haven't been to a Catholic mass before, you will not have experienced the phenomenon of the exchange of peace. Everyone in the pews nearby shakes hands and KISSES and says, "peace be with you," and "and also with you." I, not wanting to make waves, shake hands and mumble. But, what? Participation? Touching strangers? Kissing strangers? Argh. I don't mind the standing and sitting and standing and sitting and whatnot, but the peace thing? It gets me every time.

And the being told I should be stoned? Not pleased at all. As we left the church, BB said, "I owe you big for that one." And he does. Maybe even an entire trip to visit my family.

The kicker is that as we got into the car, Biker Boy's mom and dad and little sister all commented on what a great mass it was as the two of us sat there in stony silence. If we have ever come close to a fight, like a real-life fight, it was over me going to this damn mass, and the end result did nothing to diminish my discomfort with the entire experience. BB and I discussed it later that night and we both said that in all likelihood no one in the family actually listened to the mass, had no idea how insulting it would be to me (and any other non-Catholics there), and what they meant by "good mass" was that the whole thing was relatively short and the place didn't burn down during the ceremony.

Here's the deal. I know that it was pretty unlikely that there were non-Catholics in the church. But shouldn't the church be trying to reach out to potential members and not completely turn them off? Or am I taking this whole thing way too personally?

2) The fiance of one of BB's cousin was recently diagnosed with Celiac's, the same disorder BB has that means he can't eat gluten. We were warned ahead of time that there would be lots of questions for us at the dinner extravaganza. I ignored the warnings because I thought, for sure these people have better things to do than make me bust out recipes at a dinner someone else is cooking.

Alas, BB and I watched in alarm as they carted in a cooler with them to dinner. At a restaurant. With a gluten-free menu. This restaurant has a gluten-free menu. They brought a cooler.

They came over to us, as if they were magnetically drawn to us and said, "hey! we brought a gluten-free cake. It's the cake we're going to use at our wedding. We want you to try it. Tell us how it is. You know, since you're both going to be eating it."


I try to laugh it off. "Oh, no. I'm on the wheat train." I joked.

They stared at me.

"We're going to have special meals for the four of us made at the wedding," the cousin (who has not be diagnosed with anything) says.

BB and I exchange looks that could best be described as horrified. I know we're both thinking the same thing - our wedding was gluten-free the entire way around. No one got special meals because we all ate the same damn thing. If anyone missed the croutons on their salad, no one said anything to me about it. More than anything, BB hates having attention drawn to his food peculiarities. And, just as a side note, I don't have to eat gluten-free.

"Oh, no need to do anything special for us," I say, speaking for both of us because suddenly my husband has been struck mute.

"Well, try this cake. It's the most heavenly chocolate cake you'll ever taste."

"Oh, well, Biker Boy will try it. I'm not big on chocolate." And I'm not eating anything out of your special cooler. That you brought inside a restaurant. A restaurant with gluten-free options. No wonder more restaurants don't offer gluten-free menus if shit like this happens all the time.

For the rest of the night, everyone joked with me about how I didn't support BB by eating gluten-free. I defended myself. Most of the time I do eat GF. I eat exactly what he does. But if I'm out to eat, there's no reason to deny myself bread. If I was making him sick by eating gluten, I would stop in a heartbeat. But he's not that sensitive. There was never an expectation from him that I would eat his diet and I think it's ridiculous to assume I would. It would make him uncomfortable and that's the last thing I want. Drawing attention to his "special food needs" makes him super uncomfortable. I joke about it here on this site, but it's not a laughing matter. Anything that makes him stand out is unnecessary. His diet is hard enough and people knowing about it makes it that much more of a pain in the ass. I know that some people believe everyone should know and that it's OUR JOB to make people more aware, but frankly, not at the cost to my husband's pride.


How was your weekend?


  1. Anonymous10/14/2008

    Wow. Just wow on the mass thing. There was a scene in Mad Men a few weeks ago where one of the characters can't take communion and she's just sitting there all uncomfortably. Your post reminded me of it.

    Re the gluten thing, that's uncomfortable. I am an alcoholic, and a lot of times people think this means they cannot drink around me, and this kind of makes me feel uncomfortable when I wouldn't be otherwise. I am not sure why people have to call attention to difference as if this is a way of proving that they are "OK" with it. It is much easier to just go on with your life as if you don't even know.

  2. I've been there too. I always feel so uncomfortable and out of place during Mass. I started making excuses for missing Mass when my friend's kids were getting baptized, and I'd just meet them at the party later. I couldn't handle the discomfort at all.

    I think you handled the GF conversation much better than I would have. I would have ended up making everyone feel awkward, because I would have pointed out how they were making things awkward. I'm charming like that.

  3. I really feel like it's just unnecessary for people to make such a big deal out of things. And I really hate it when people accuse me of not being "supportive" of someone else. I call B.S.

  4. i went to Luthern church in Eden Prairie (a funeral). it was exactly the same at catholic church. communion and the peace thing.

  5. I think we probably both have the same reservations about the catholic church. My husband's family is super Catholic, and it's hard for me to relate to that. I've only gone to mass a few times--for weddings--and I just try to remember that I don't have to do all of their rituals. I just have to stand there and get it over with. I think you should be commended for keeping quiet in the car ride. I would have undoubtedly said something smart. Lol.

  6. I remember as a teenager being very grieved that I couldn't share communion with them. It frustrated me cause it seemed like a teaching of a church that had superceeded Jesus (who is the whole point of communion.)

    Family (esp someone else's) is tough. Eventually you'll both find your groove with each other's people and figure out a way to honor them while being yourself.

  7. Anonymous10/22/2008

    My sister (who also has celiac) is the same way as your husband- doesn't want a lot of attention called to it, doesn't want to always be talking about it, etc etc. And my whole family still eats gluten sometimes, and it drives me nuts when people suggest (as they have done! many times!) that we are somehow not being supportive because of that.

  8. I was really dissapointed that you didn't have croutons on the salad at your wedding. You see, I know how much you really love croutons. So I was dreaming during the whole ride from Ohio... NGS's croutons... mmmm... and then they weren't there.
    Your wedding photos are MUCH better than Crista's. And I looked much cuter at your wedding. Because I'm hot.

  9. I was really dissapointed that you didn't have croutons on the salad at your wedding. You see, I know how much you really love croutons. So I was dreaming during the whole ride from Ohio... NGS's croutons... mmmm... and then they weren't there.
    Your wedding photos are MUCH better than Crista's. And I looked much cuter at your wedding. Because I'm hot.

  10. I'm really late commenting on this, but I totally related to how you felt at the mass. My ex was Catholic and I couldn't stand it when I had to go to mass with his family. The part where everyone drinks after each other during Communion completely grossed me out. And I don't understand why a church would tell me I can't participate in Communion even though I have been baptized, saved, and went to church several times a week while I was growing up but shame on me because it was a Methodist church and not a Catholic one.

  11. P.S. Sometimes I went up and ate the wafer (but I refused to drink the wine after other people) just to piss off my ex-mother-in-law because she was one of the most evil women on earth. She would tell me to remain seated and I would stand right up and follow her up the aisle to take communion anyway. I can't help it....I get my thrills in little ways.


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