Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Going to Mass with Walter - Real Philadelphia
My friend and neighbor Walter is an 86 year old Catholic of Pennsylvania Dutch and Sicilian heritage. I think he is gay and in the closet for a lifetime. His partner died last year. Walter visits his grave every week. Walter walks everywhere and knows everybody.
Walter seduced me into going to Mass again at St. John Cantius. How? He offered me Polish festival food. I like Walter a lot. When I moved into Plum Hovel he was the first neighbor to befriend me.
I need stuffed cabbage and pirogis made by Polish Mamas like a drunkard needs his booze. My Mama the Polka Queen lives in South Carolina.
The festival food was divine. I had a huge stuffed cabbage, a potato pancake, a bottle of Yeungling Beer and a brief flirtation with one of the handsomest old Polish guys I ever saw. I even enjoyed Mass. Walter got an 'atta boy' from the Priest for bringing me.
I did not remember any of the responses. I just let the familiar words roll over me, refused to say the mumbo jumbo and enjoyed myself. I thought I would freak out. Seriously. Instead the words of the Mass were a happy soothing return to my childhood.
It was all good. As we walked to the bus through the spotless geranium bedecked neighborhood that looks like a street in Europe, Walter said "You know what is so great about this neighborhood? Not one black or brown face. It is clean. Not one piece of trash. And it is safe." I said "Uh hah. Ummm. You don't say?" in appropriate places.
Walter lives with me on the wild side of the Avenue. We have bunches of happy children and block parties. At the last block party I learned that Miss Norma had sexual congress with Miss Antoinette. Whoa. And I got too drunk on Krupnik.
I love the buffet of good Dominican cooking at the bodega. I see Walter at the bodega often. Open your eyes, Walter. The beef stew is great, the store is spotless and they are BROWN. Aggressively CARAMEL.
I am going back to Mass again with Walter. Even though there will be no pirogis. I am on a remember the Catholic Church quest. I am not going to fight with Walter because he is a bigot. He is 86 years old.
I am just going to give thanks for my messy happy neighborhood. That neat neighborhood is not downhill from Frankford Avenue. A river of trash flows down from the Avenue. Tides of plastic bottles. Eddys of plastic utensils and old hamburger boxes. So we clean up best we can.