Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday at Wal-Mart: The Great Unchurched

Going to Wal-Mart at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning is akin to publicly wearing your religion... or lack thereof. Stumble inside wearing your favorite sweatpants and t-shirt, sporting a pillow-shaped hairdo and faint mascara smudges under one eye, and you're advertising to the client base that You Are Unchurched.

And yet, this is the hour that the siren song of Wal-Mart wails loudest to my heathen ears. I have been awake for an hour and 15 minutes, meaning I have blissfully slept through those productive hours when enthusiastic morning persons have presumably sat around sunny breakfast nooks with their tousle-headed families, noshing on grapefruit and sausage links before scrubbing the dishes and then scrubbing up for Jesus. If I shake a leg, I can get my shopping done without getting stuck in the traffic jam between Splendaville Best Christian Church and Golden Corral.

As I deliberate over decorator paper towels -- grapes and bananas, seashells, or teddy bears? -- I encounter a freshly-saved family, straight from The Lord's dwelling place. Mom wears a floral dress and heels (some even go for hose if they're really feeling penitent.) Dad is valiantly atoning for his sins with a round of family shopping in squeaky shoes, but Junior's spit-shine is wearing thin and he's pretending to choke on his zip-up tie. Baby Girl has smeared the smushy remnants of a Gerber teething biscuit all over her smocked dress with embroidered cherries on the Peter Pan collar, and is about to wipe her fingers on Junior's cowlick when I toss the seashell paper towels into my cart and shove off towards the toaster pastries.

As I pass, I imagine they might be taking in my slovenly appearance and general lack of sanctification, and I start to rationalize: Hey, I might have gone to the early service and changed before making my grocery run. Or maybe I'm going to the five o'clock session and am shopping for my big wholesome family dinner with the pastor. It's possible; they don't really know.

I glance down at my cart, which contains self-tanner, Mylanta, Funyuns, two boxes of wine, and seashell paper towels, and wonder who I think I am kidding.

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