No, I’m not talking about sexual abuse in the Catholic church!
There we were this evening, Zosia and I, not long in the home and settling slowly into an evening routine without mama who was at psycho-school for her one weekend per month training and the domofon rang. Strange, I thought, but answered it anyway and opened the door to see who was there. Our domofon is a bit of overkill really as the front door is all of 10 metres from the thing and it would be far easier if people just rapped on the kitchen window. Anyway, as I opened the door I was confronted with this tall guy dressed in a black cape with fancy attachments. Shit! I thought, Dracula!
Cursing myself for not knowing where we keep the garlic, I was about to shout “Zosia, run for it! I’ll keep him occupied!” when Dracula started making priestly movements, talking about ‘kolęda’ (or something) and I definitely heard the word ‘ksiądz’ (priest) with the correct declination. Realising my mistake I was at first relieved but then horrified as I realised that this priest was on my doorstep looking for an invite inside and I had absolutely no idea what the correct protocol was! Eeeek!
Something told me that “Not today, thank you.” was inappropriate and my command of Polish is not sufficient to embark on a doorstep discussion about the pros and cons of organised religion so I just invited him in, which seemed to be the right answer. Now, my first problem is what to be calling the guy, the word for priest (ksiądz) is dangerously close to the word for book (książka), certainly when you don’t really know what you’re doing with endings, so wishing to avoid calling him “Mr Book” for the evening I just avoided referring to him at all, like he was a sort of mysterious Holy spirit or something. I plied him with my full range of excuses about being English and not being Catholic although working hard on being a good one anyway for Zosia’s sake and because I’d signed all those papers when we got married and such forth. Can’t say he seemed to impressed although he did start making excuses about how his boss (the Pope?) was much better at English than he was!
As he stood awkwardly in the lounge I muted the Cartoon Network and he invited us to sit down and talk a little. Gawd! We sat and he gave a little speech about what he was doing there, which I think had something to do with “Kolęda wizyta duszpasterka”, as that’s what is written on one of the visiting cards he left behind. I’m completely at sea with this because as far as I know kolęda is something you sing at Christmas, Silent Night, The Holly & the Ivy and so on, so now I’m expecting him to break into a chorus of the Lu-la-lu-la-lay thing and expect us all to join in! Thankfully he didn’t.
Now we’re sat down, what’s going through my head is what I’m supposed to be offering him by way of either hospitality or a sign of my deepest respect for a man of the cloth. He’s clearly not Santa Claus so I suppose a mandarin, cup of milk and few walnuts is out of the question. Money perhaps? Churches like collecting money? In the end I settled for an offer of tea or coffee and he chose to use the toilet. (Yes folks, be jealous that OUR guest toilet is now operating with holy water!)
He opened his filofax whatsit, checked our address and noted something down, “Lost cause” is my guess. He then got out a few of those ‘made in China’ tarot cards with pictures of saints and stuff on them. One was an advert for the local church, from whence he came I assume. “Oh!” I said, “So there’s a church nearby? We’ll be sure to pop along sometime soon and join in the fun!”. Another card has a prayer on the back and the third one is the one that talks about kolęda wizyta…..
I was sensing that we’d just about exhausted our mutually possible interfacing and he was clearly of a similar opinion so he got up and mentioned praying. We all stood and tried to look suitably full of prayer. He said something about home and family and then shook a little silver thing. He then, I think, blessed Zosia, asked me to say something to my (clearly long suffering) wife and headed for the door. We said our goodbyes, him attempting English and me with a “Dobranoc! Catch you at the church soon!” and it was all over.
I know God was watching this whole sorry episode and I know I’m going to hell. Can someone tell me what the correct behaviour is just in case he’s mad enough to return.