Letterpress List No. 40: Dear God

Today’s reading is from a letter from St. Angelo to the Letterpressians.

Mary sometimes ribs Shop Boy for being a bit, um, elliptical in some of my longer posts. She says I’m channeling the Rev. Roger Gench, our cool former pastor, who’d start a sermon on the tiniest thread of an idea, ramble off through a tangle of tangents and then, just as we began to wonder where the heck he was going with this, he’d deliver his zinger ending that put a lovely bow on top of the whole perfect mess.

And this is an insult?

Now, Shop Boy is not much of a religious guy. If you are, that’s great. God created room for us all.

Shop Boy’s mom, unfortunately, believed that her son was altar boy material. Every Sunday, she’d push me out the door for the 30-minute walk to St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Cranston, R.I. You can’t imagine how often I took the Lord’s name in vain during these marches, knowing that my five exempt sisters were still in bed. Oooh. And if I ever tried to pull a fast one, “oversleeping” and missing the service, my mom would remind me that there was a 5 p.m. mass over at St. Mark’s, an even longer walk.

Anyway, Shop Boy mostly made up a phony list of, ahem, lesser sins to confess to the priest, daydreamed through the mass, then walked home. Except when Monsignor Brennan was running the thing. Oh, boy, this dude’s funny cadence and accent! Even as a native Rhode Island kid, I couldn’t helping cracking up: “Take this, alla yous … and eat it.” Yous sounded like “yizz,” by the way. Then he’d chug the blood of Christ like a sailor on shore leave. And his sermons … my heavens! That Shop Boy didn’t wet his pants was the true miracle.

Altar boy? Hah! Besides, Shawn was an altar boy. ‘Nuff said.

Church makes me laugh. I can’t help it. Maybe it’s the discomfort at the very idea of death and forever and hell and all that. I just get wound up so tight and then … the littlest thing sets me off.

Like at my grandfather’s wake. Believe me, I loved the old guy, an Italian immigrant and big band trumpeter who opened his own general store after his “lip went.” A dear, gentle fellow. I also love my dad, who was losing a parent for the first time. Still, when my brother-in-law Barry Rappoport, during an innocent discussion of life and death, whispered, “It’s like you’re there one minute, then … arriva-derch!” — Archie Bunker style — a laugh began welling in my gut. It was unstoppable. The more mortified and desperate I became to control the giggles, the more I shook and squeaked. My eyes were bursting with tears.

And then Shop Boy saw Dad and Uncle Jimmy.

“Look at this guy,” Jimmy said.

“Too many years of playing football without a helmet,” my dad sneered, looking back toward his father in the coffin.

For about 30 years, the moment ate away at my soul. Finally, sitting at a bar somewhere, just two guys, I explained what happened — not Barry’s fault — and begged Dad’s forgiveness. He didn’t even remember it. We had a good laugh at my expense. And he gave me a big hug when I left for home.

Or how about that time when a friend of Mary and Shop Boy, Rachel Cunningham, brought her young son Evan to church on the day when the Rev. Andrew Foster Connors decided to do a special service with chairs arranged in a tight circle? You could have heard a pin drop as the minister began his opening prayer “Dear God …”

You could also have heard this echo, courtesy of Evan, from a block away: “DEAR GOD!”

Each time Andrew would collect himself and start over, Evan would enthusiastically holler the response. Shop Boy was quietly hysterical.

And maybe one of the funniest things of all was the pre-Christmas party where Shop Boy “helped” a local minister write her holiday homily.

DEAR GOD!

Now where was I going with that?

Oh, I know: Shop Boy writes this blog to make Mary laugh, to release the common frustrations of starting a business from scratch, and also just to tell stories that one more crack to the noggin in the printshop might some day erase. But folks have given Typecast Press some very nice feedback, and even some business, based on this blog. And as we’ve been crazy busy the past few months — yes! somebody’s watching over us! — and my posts have at times decreased in frequency — if not length! fuggedaboutit! — some of you have kept coming back.

It’s something Shop Boy is grateful for, especially after I’ve now gone on for 80-some posts and 40 music lists over 10-plus months. (What, you expected some kind of normal, sensible, round-numbered milestone celebration? If you did, you just haven’t been paying close enough attention here.) Anyway, thanks for reading.

Now, keep checking in with Shop Boy or you’ll burn for eternity.

Amen.

Oh, and arriva-derch!

***

Letterpress List No. 40

How about an hour’s worth — actually a little more than that this week (divine inspiration, I guess) — of music to ponder life’s great questions by — like “What the heck are you talking about, Shop Boy?” — or to simply be thankful for? Most of these tunes should be available in the usual places. Great and goofy links are to YouTube.

Round and RoundRatt (Elliptical … hmmphh!)
The Long and Winding Roadthe Beatles (Ditto.)
Go With the FlowQueens of the Stone Age (Stay with me, people.)
FaithGeorge Michael (Love this song. Limp Bizkit’s, um, alternate version, too.)
SuperheroAni DiFranco (Found religion in the greeting card aisle.)
SanctifiedNine Inch Nails (Touring the nicest parts of hell.)
ShineCollective Soul (Soaking it in.)
TestifyDaniela Cotton (She does that.)
Dear God XTC (Sort of a love-it-or-hate-it song.)
Tears in HeavenEric Clapton (Another one: Mary hates this. Shop Boy cries.)
Spaceball RicochetT. Rex (On Shop Boy’s album version, apparently recorded in Rhode Island, the minister of weird lyrics sings that he’s “got a house in his heart that can hold just about alla yous.” Ha!)
Craig Stephen Lynch (Watch for lightning strikes.)
Lightning CrashesLive (Told you.)
Southern CrossCrosby, Stills & Nash (A warm embrace.)
Chocolate JesusTom Waits (To each His own.)
Under the Milky Waythe Church (Midnight mass?)
Steel Guitar Heaven Ry Cooder (Brand new! OK, for this, we’ll forgive him his sins.)
Crucify Tori Amos (Where are those angels when you need them?)
Don’t Kill Hamell on Trial (“Thou” means “you.”)
My ImmortalEvanescence (Fallen.)
HeavenTalking Heads (The big picnic in the sky.)
Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire Jimi Hendrix (Getting warm in here.)
Hot Hot HotBuster Poindexter (This must be the place.)
Wayward AngelKasey Chambers (Sorry, Mom.)
HellSquirrel Nut Zippers (Serious strife.)
Ha Ha You’re DeadGreen Day (Gulp!)

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