Dear person sitting next to me at church,
First of all, yes, that scent of sandalwood, citrus, ocean waves and far off adventure you’re getting is me. It’s my cologne. I make it in my garage. It’s kind of a “farm to neck” thing. Local. Organic. Gluten free, etc.
Second of all, I must warn you that today, when the minister closes this church service with a prayer, you will discover I am a prayer leaner.
As the lights go dim and eyes go closed and prayers go up (cause all I do is win), I will lean forward. I will rest my elbows on my knees for support and then pray. At this moment, if countless other experiences have taught me anything, you will think one thing:
This delightful smelling guy next to me is crying.
You, like many others before you, will then feel bad for me. You will misinterpret my pray lean as sadness. In a moment of compassion, you will place a hand on my shoulders or upper back. (Upper back hand placement from a stranger at church = comforting. Lower back hand placement from a stranger at church = creepy.)
You might even whisper in my ear, “You’ll get through this.” Or “I’m here for you.” Or “God gives and takes away.”
In that moment, I won’t know what to do. Do I correct you? Do I break my prayer, mid lean, and reply, “Oh yeah, totally. God loves me. He loves you too. Right back atcha!” Or do I go along with it, not wanting to offend you that you misread my prayer leaning for sorrow. Do I nod as if I am crying and try to imagine an appropriate tragedy that has me in tears, “That cat was like a member of my family. She was taken too soon! Too soon! I know you’re in heaven scratching God’s couch right now Mr. Whiskers!”
At that point, what can you do? Unless the church we’re in has some sort of cat death care ministry you can refer me to, or you happen to have a spare cat on your person, you’re stuck too.
You probably won’t, though, nobody brings bonus cats with them to church. And cats have such disdain for humanity that they are never service animals. No one has a “seeing eye cat.” That thing would get you killed in traffic on day one.
You’ll feel bad and bring me a cat next week to make up for it. I’ll pet it quietly in the lobby of the church when you give it to me, but promptly set it free in the parking lot after service when you’re not around.
The cat will escape into the underbelly of Nashville, have kittens and add to the growing feral cat problem, furthering enraging Bob Barker who told us to spay or neuter our animals.
So I guess what I’m saying is that for my sake, for your sake, for Bob Barker’s sake, please know that I’m not crying during the closing prayer.
I’m a prayer leaner.
I lean back. Like Fat Joe.
Are you a prayer leaner?