Punctuality was drilled into me since I was a kid. I was taught that being on time, or better yet – being early was sacred, holy, and divine. It was not something I was born with, this devotion to promptness had to be taught and observed. But I found out, after many years that being somewhere or completing a project by a deadline was not the point. What was really being ingrained into my psyche was understanding and applying the notion of respect.
This, of course, was before cell phones and mass communication. Now you can change plans at the tap of a finger. No, when I grew up, obviously I was expected to keep my appointments or find a germ-laden public phone to call the other party and tell them I was going to be late – or not show up at all.
I really have to give my canonical penchant for being on time to my Dad. He was a stickler for being accountable to your word. What else is there? He taught me to always be on time. So I just – did it. And then to back him up was the catacombs of rhapsodic concatenations of the Catholic Church – “Kyrie eleison mei.” Oy vie!
Now, I’m not going into the minutiae of being “bullied” by the catechism of growing up in a strict Catholic household, I’ll let John R. Powers do that. Read his 1975 novel, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? To get a swipe of what we had to deal with – pre Second Vatican Council and beyond! But I will add to his memories mine about being an altar boy. Now there’s where you learn discipline – and the Fear of Almighty God!
Discipline was the key word for a boy who wanted to please his parents. Being an altar boy was almost a rite of passage in a Catholic household. And the perks were well received, like serving at funerals. Not only would I get out of a weekday class at 10 am, but the family of the deceased usually offered us an envelope with a ten spot inside.
But I digress. The regular schedule for any 11-year-old boy (no girls were allowed back then to be altar b-o-y-s!) was grueling. Every f*cking day, Monday through Saturday masses were held at 6 am, 7:15 am, 8 am, and finally 8:45 am. Every F*cking day. Except for Sunday. But that’s a whole ‘nother matter.
The fact was, there had to be three altar boys at each service, the cross-bearer and two acolytes to hold the candles before and after the service for adoration. (Except when you received a call from the Mother House, where the nuns lived. Then it was up to one altar boy to do everything – and be there at 5 am!) Bless you, Sinister Mary Peter.
But I had no choice! Not only was I made to feel guilt-ridden if I did not become an altar boy, but Catholic lads were expected to be a part of this holy, traditional ritual. Come hell or high water.
The priest would get to the church and enter the sacristy about 15 minutes before the mass started and you had better be there or your ass was going to hell. Think about it. Tell an 11-year-old that if he’s late for celebrating mass he’s going to be bosom buddies with the brotherhood of Beelzebub for the rest of his f*cking existence! That’s eternity man! Punishment in perpetuity!
You bet your sweet ass I was an “on time” altar boy! Fear is quite a motivator as is going to Hell! And that discipline has carried over to my adult life.
So it has become obvious to me within the last few months that some store managers and shop owners in the cigar community will never – ever, have to worry about missing one another after their time with the living is up. It’s so simple. When the rapture comes – I’m going up. Some are going down! And just think, they’ll never be at a loss for a f*cking cigar lighter ever again!!! LOL!!!