Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Lookin' like Your Goldfish Died"

This morning I attended my so-called "home church" for the first time in months. I'd been going to church, just not this one, for reasons that won't be discussed here. Ma and I arrived shortly before the  handshaking/hugging portion (you know in recent years, instead of simply instructing you to greet your neighbor, they now specifically encourage you to walk around and hug or shake hands with people). I stood up but didn't walk around; mostly just glancing around at the various familiar and unfamiliar countenances around me, obliging when someone would approach with a greeting. Then they called the congregation to the altar for prayer but I held my position on the pew like I always do. Some not-quite-elderly man wearing sunglasses (he and his sunglasses have been at the church during all the past 13 years that I've been going; can't remember if he's a deacon or not though) was about to pass by me but then he stopped. He bent over to shake my hand, then stared at me for a second and said,

"What's wrong?"
"I'm sorry?"
"What's wrong with you?"
"You sittin' there lookin' like your goldfish died. I was about to give you 75 cents so you could go buy yourself a new one and not look like that no more."
(busting out laughing) "Haha, no..."
"I'm just messin' with you. Happy New Year. "
"Happy New Year to you too."

I've always been very careful about my composure when sitting by myself, or when I'm around a group of people and don't have the courage to insert myself amongst them and engage with them. When not scanning the crowd just to see what there is to see and look preoccupied, my eyes are focused straight ahead while I  try to look self-assured and contemplative rather than awkward and lonely. And from time to time I'm told my straight face makes me look sad or concerned or angry. But mourning a dead goldfish? Ha! Definitely a new one. That was probably the most random yet oddly comforting welcome that I ever could've expected.

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