After months of avoiding the outside world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Offutts finally went to church.
If I made that sound simple, it wasn’t.
There’s a long-standing Offutt tradition of being late. My parents were late for every event imaginable as, I can only assume, were my grandparents and each generation of Offutt before them. If warning the colonists "the British are coming" during the Revolutionary War was left to an Offutt, he’d probably still be sitting on the toilet thinking he had plenty of time.
To honor that Offutt, I’ll spell some of the following words with the letter "u."
Word one, honour.
Our house is literally two miles from the church, and that’s two miles of sidewalks. People with some ambition (otherwise known childless), wake up in time to shower, eat breakfast, possibly read a book or donate to a charitable organization before walking those two miles and getting to church in time for a doughnut and casual conversation. We pour yesterday’s coffee in to-go cups and sniff each other’s armpits in the car.
Me: How is it?
Wife: *sniffs me* Have you been to a zoo recently?
Me: *I sniff her* Hilarious. You smell like a flower.
Wife: What kind?
Me: Sumatran corpse flower.
Wife: It’s fine. You think there are any doughnuts left?
Word two, odour.
Then we arrive late. My parents were masters at arriving late. After spending 10 minutes honking at my father who, much like his Revolutionary War ancestor, was on the toilet, Mom would speed to church and rush us into the tiny vestibule/coat closet to find church had already started.
After a "shhh" and the threat of death if we didn’t shut the hell up, we’d stand in silence waiting for the first prayer so we could sneak in when everyone’s eyes were closed.
As a child, I figured other parishioners thought the Offutts were magical.
"Yeah, Bob, darnedest thing. I was sittin’ there and one minute the pew was empty, the next, boom, full of Offutts. You think they’re witches?"
As an adult, I know trying to sneak into church late is futile, so we just walk in. I’m thinking of coordinating an Offutt theme song with the organist to signal our arrival. It’ll be just like at a baseball game.
"Now taking communion, No. 55, Jaaaaa sooooon Oooooooffuuuuutt."
Word three, flavour.
My wife and I arrived only five minutes late, but the door was locked.
"You sure this is the right church?" I asked
Word four, humour.
She tried the door next to it. Also locked.
"Maybe it’s that one," she said, pointing to the southeast side of the building.
Locked. We walked around the church, our lateness getting later by the step. The south door was locked. The southeast door was locked. The northeast door was locked. By then we’d circled the building and saw a door right next to the first one we tried.
It was open. My head said interesting words.
Word five, colour.
We went in. We were late. People looked at us. The end.
Maybe we should try Mom’s magic entrance next time. I think witches are fashionable this year.
Word six, rumour.
Jason Offutt’s upcoming novel, "So You Had to Build a Time Machine," is available for preorder at jasonoffutt.com.