Falling off the altar
It was a hot day in June of 1989. I was twelve years old. I was an altar boy serving at the 11:30 mass, the last mass of the morning. Under my robe I wore my little league baseball uniform because I had a game that day at 1 o’clock. On the altar I stood to the right of the priest. As he was consecrating the Eucharist, I began to feel woozy. I fainted. I tumbled down the stairs from the altar.
My confirmation name is Job.
The Church of St. John the Evangelist in Hopkinton is made of granite, rises high in the sky, and seemed to me the only ancient place in the town, though it must have been constructed in the nineteenth century, if that far back. Its organ is very loud. Sometimes my aunt Maryanne was the person playing it.
My mother is Catholic, and some of her grade school was in parochial schools where the instructors were nuns. She graduated from a Catholic women’s college, Emmanuel, in Boston. She is the eldest of seven brothers and sisters. She was the one who took us to Church. My father was baptized Albanian Orthodox, but did not come to Church with us except on Christmas. It’s said he had a Methodist phase while he was in high school.
The altar and its stairs were carpeted maroon. The congregation was aghast to see me fall. I came to with the priest, the altar boy, and the eucharistic ministers gathered around me. I was fine, except my face was covered in rug burns. I sat out the rest of the mass and didn’t perform my duties of ringing bells and holding a gold plate under parishioners’ mouths as the priest delivered them the Body of Christ. I took off my robe and my cross and went to my baseball game.
We never had cable television at home. I went on a Church Youth Group canoe trip to Vermont in the fall of 1991. The lodge where we were staying had MTV. I had hardly ever seen it. We watched Headbanger’s Ball, and that was the first time I saw Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was wearing a ball gown. The canoeing was fun. I like boats and rivers.