01 March 2011

Schenectady in Springtime

Talk about white, ceramic coffee cups and really rickety, old mom's kitchen-style chairs with the little handle cut through the top of the chair back. “Aside from wireless internet, this place could be 1980.” Father Mike Stencil, our erstwhile hero, was staring at a really clean floor. “New tile,” he muttered aloud to the four walls and those kitchen chairs with the handles cut into their backs.

The Mexican nuns busied themselves with breakfast preparations – a little bowl of butter pats here, some carcinogenic sweetener packets there; oatmeal, oatmeal, fricking oatmeal in a big old fricking tub. When Mike thought of the oatmeal, he used a different word than “fricking.” The Bishop would never know...only God would know, but He probably had the same feeling about the big old oatmeal tub, Mike thought.

Call no earthly man “father,” Mike liked to think to himself – to remind himself, to shake his head over at times like this. The nuns could not resist saying “good morning, Father,” each time they walked past him. “'Morning, S'ter,” he would respond each time. No commands about whether or not to call an earthly woman “sister,” is there?

Mrmph,” said Mike aloud, “more'nother cuppa joe.” A Mexican nun looked at him strangely. She was not used to hearing priests talk to themselves, apparently. Maybe he was talking to God in sort of a coffee-hound's prayer...maybe it is an ecstatic moment...perhaps the Holy Ghost is moving this bleary-eyed, middle-aged priest to new heights of spiritual rapture. He thought about bursting into song in Spanish to freak the ever-lovin' daylights out of the nuns, but the only Spanish song that he could think of was “Don't Cry for me Argentina,” and he quickly realized that while Eva Peron most assuredly spoke Spanish, the song itself was in English. “The Girl from Ipanema” would probably not do, either. That pretty much exhausted his quasi-Spanish repetoire.

The coffee was good and hot, and the white ceramic cup ever so clean. The day so bright and the Old Spice on his face so aromatic. What more could a man ask for? Many, many things that Mike could think of, to tell the truth, but on this morning he was content to sip coffee and wait for the sisters to finish their breakfast preparations.

Cella Luna, mezzo Mari, mama mia ho maritari,” sang Father Mike Stencil in pigeon Sicilian, not quite at the top of his lungs, “vica mia cutadari mama mia pe' sacce du!”

A thin young nun dropped a big old fricking bowl of oatmeal on the tile floor. A fat nun laughed a good hearty laugh.

Mike Stencil smiled from ear to fricking ear.

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