The Stinky Masses

I went to mass today. Dragging oneself out of a cozy Sunday morning spent downing coffee and reading the paper is always difficult, not to mention throwing in getting three recalcitrant kids ready. Not to mention that I have a wonky bladder and wonkier knees that make church-going arduous at best. I was feeling quite proud of my self-sacrifice, in the name of mass.
Jeez, why do the Catholic hymns sound like dirges? They’re the most difficult things to sing ever, switching from chest voice into head over and over again; difficult for trained singers and impossible for a bunch of people who just crawled, hung-over, out of bed.
Anyway, upon arrival I used the bathroom, located on the outside of the church. A knock sounded at the bathroom door and when I’d finished my business, I stepped outside to see a small man.
“They took the sign down, huh?” He pointed to the blank ladies’ room door. I figured he meant that he did not know where the men’s room was.
“The men’s room is at the other end.” I pointed.
“I need the mirror for my aftershave.” He held aloft a bottle.
Whaa? Do you NEED aftershave in church? Really?
I rejoined my family in the pew, sitting near the front as they always do.
Enter an older woman, drenched in sickly sweet eau de baby bottom. Baby powder and lilac. Elyse, my oldest kid, and I immediately began coughing. I got a headache and a sore throat and Elyse’s eyes were watering. “Is the perfume bothering you?” I whispered to her.
“All I know is my eyes are watering and I’m coughing,” she hacked back.
“Switch seats,” Cadillac whispered.
I wanted to tell him the Story of the Aftershave and why that would be no good, because no matter where we went we would sit near a different person swathed in too much cologne. But the story was too long and involved.
I knew I should have stayed in bed.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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