Flavorless Rebellion


Open the white, wooden double doors and step into a building that is ninety percent maroon velvet. The smell of old, strong coffee, and even stronger old lady perfume fills your lungs. The bleak sermon flyer is placed in your hand. The dull piano chords shake your entire body as you enter the sanctuary. This experience was my every Sunday, my earliest concept of religion.

Every kid has that place where they feel obligated to go. Mine was church, a place called Emmanuel Baptist. Emmanuel Baptist, or EBC, was a white steeple in the middle of cloudy Overland Park, Kansas. The top of the steeple looked like a sharp needle. In fact, I can clearly recall picturing a skydiver being forced to land at the tip of the needle and meeting his bloody fate. That thought didn’t go over well at Sunday School.

It’s not that I resented my parents for making me attend church. I really never did. And it’s not that I don’t even believe in God now- I do. But Emanuel was not the place for me, that was clear for as long as I can remember. It was something about the traditions, the slowness of pace, it felt like I was trapped in the land of the sleeping.

And even as I started to come of age, my feelings remained.  As an ugly middle schooler and eventually, a mediocre-looking high schooler, I remember still feeling bored. I wanted some sort of spiritual challenge, I wanted something exciting, something alive. And yet, it was what it was. Praying, and wishing, and hoping aside, it was always the same. I have so many memories about that place, not all bad.

I was an angel in the Christmas Pageant two years in a row. You could recognize me as the pudgy, red-cheeked Filipino in a sea of blonde girls. And don’t forget, I was the lead in the church musical. A fact I taunted my sister with for weeks. A fact that was quickly forgotten when her name was printed in the program instead of mine. The irony was not lost on me.

Yet, among the many stories at EBC, one memory in particular stands out. One late October, the leaves were still falling in their many chromatic layers. The oranges and greens were fading from the giant oak trees and sycamores that bordered EBC. I was nine at the time, Sarah was eleven. I don’t know what it was about that day. But when Sarah looked at me with mischievous eyes, the kind of eyes only sisters can recognize, I knew a great adventure was about to begin.

Chasing my petite sister’s dark braids down the velvet stairs into the basement, I screamed with joy. “Quiet!” Sarah shouted (hypocritically), “Or do you want to get caught?” Of course I didn’t, and she knew that. What would be the penalty for skipping church? A grounding? A stern talking to? Well, for any punishment, we would have to make it worth our time. Sarah halted by the white closet at the end of the basement. That closet in particular had always stood out because it was the only divider between the Sunday school classrooms and the silver-clad kitchen. And I knew that only two things were inside that closet: dusty choir robes and the communion crackers.

Barely tall enough to reach the top of the closet, but aware enough to know that what I was doing was immoral, I pulled the box down. Inside, it was loaded with those thick, white pieces of dough. And then began our act of defiance. And defiance tastes like bland communion crackers, one after the other, after the other, and so on. If it was true that I was eating pieces of the body of Christ, I probably ate his entire torso. And it didn’t even taste good, just bland. This was definitely a pointless, flavorless act of rebellion. After Sarah and I polished off the entire box, we ran back up the stairs, surprisingly without our parents ever noticing our absence.

It’s funny the things I remember, and how the past seems so coherent when its far away in the horizon. I always think of that closet, that building, and those horrible bland crackers as a cornerstone of my childhood’s most sinful moments. And sometimes, when I top a soup or salad with Saltine’s, it’s almost like being nine again.

(photo courtesy of twobee/Freedigitalphotos.net)

About Emily Menez

Emily Menez is a comedy writer and improv performer. She hails from Overland Park, Kansas but her heart belongs to New York City. You can follow her @emenez2. She also owns @emenez1 but forgot her password.

About Emily Menez

Emily Menez is a comedy writer and improv performer. She hails from Overland Park, Kansas but her heart belongs to New York City. You can follow her @emenez2. She also owns @emenez1 but forgot her password.