Sunday School Drop-out

When I was about seven years old, Jess, the girl that lived behind the train lines told me that they had pancakes every Sunday at their church. As many as you wanted! There were even scones with jam and cream and sandwiches, too, if the old ‘cake ladies’ of the congregation were in a good mood.

That was about the extent of my religious awakening. Jess told me: All you had to do was sing a few songs, talk about Jesus and his trinity lambs a bit and stay quiet when you were pretending to pray. I was in.

Mum and Dad weren’t religious at all, so I hounded them with lectures on parental responsibility (I was a horrid child) until they let Nan take me to Sunday School whilst she went to church. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Sunday School and I were going to go together like chlorine and bleach. Unfortunately part of the deal with Mum and Dad in letting me go in the first place was that I would continue going to Sunday School until I was 12; that’s when you graduated from Sunday School and went on to do bible studies. I was constantly berated for asking too many “silly questions”. Questions like “How did Noah fit the dinosaurs on the Ark?”, or “Why didn’t Samson just wear a nightcap?”. Deep down I knew that my sudden interest in religion was a farce and I knew that God knew it too.

Each Sunday, my brother and I would be woken up at Bastard O’clock to scoff down a couple of pieces of vegemite and toast and get stuffed into our ‘Church Clothes’. Church Clothes are basically the kind of clothes your grandparents wish you’d wear all of the time; floral frocks with lace trims and such. They were also the kind of clothes that were likely to get your head kicked in if you were ever dumb enough to wear them to school.

Nan used to pick us up in her sky blue EH Holden. It had bench seats in the front and the steering wheel cover was made out of bleached snake skin. We thought it was a piece of shit and were quite embarrassed to be seen in it. It would probably be worth a fortune these days. The vinyl seats would get so hot in the summer that you’d burn 2 layers of skin off the back of your thighs if you were wearing a skirt any higher than your knees.
Luckily for our thighs, poxy church clothes didn’t really allow for mini skirts or hot pants.

My brother, Peter, thought that Sunday School was even more of an exercise in bollocks than I did. Each Sunday morning, Nan would park the car in the open gravel car park beside the church. She’d walk off into the main church and we’d head off to some little de-mountable buildings out the back where they held the Sunday School. Nan used to give us 20 cents each to put in the collection plate. Pete and my cousin Travis would get me to tell the teacher they were sick and at home or that they had gone into the church with Nan that morning. Meanwhile, they would have scarpered up to the local shop to buy a bagful of lollies. There were re-cycling sacks and Grundy bins (skip bins) beside the church and the boys would jump into one of them and hide beneath old newspapers and magazines. Whilst I was praying for forgiveness for calling my dad a lesbian, they were scoffing lollies and making dirty comments about the lingerie sections of Target catalogues.

A couple of years after we began attending Sunday School, the Herald Sun newspaper brought out these commemorative AFL medallions featuring ‘Football Greats’. There were about 25 of them to collect but you never knew what you were going to get, so Pete had heaps of double ups. The AFL footy medallions were coincidentally about the same size and shape of a 20 cent piece.

We were waiting in the car for Nan to finish church one morning when we saw her come storming across the car park. She looked demonic. She got to the car, opened the back door and whacked Pete on the legs about 4 times without a word. She drove home in silence.

When we got home we were banished from the kitchen whilst she talked with Mum and Dad. I heard her telling Mum and Dad about how embarrassed she had been and how she didn’t know what had come over her when she agreed to take us two to church. She went on to say that the minister had walked up to see her after the service whilst she was surrounded by a group of the head church cronies and busybodies. He’d thanked her for the reading she’d done that morning. He then asked her to ask her grandson to stop putting footy medals in the collection plate from now on, as he already had the entire set.

Sunday School Drop-out

Katewah

Cairns, Australia

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