They stood next to each other holding hymnals as the procession moved down the aisle of the church. She leaned toward him and whispered something in his ear.

He laughed, then scowled, and elbowed her. She covered up her smile.

The processional was the ponderous hymn, Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.

I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet “Well done” in judgment hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors’ faith, apostles’ word,
the patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

The crucifer passed and he turned and bowed. It was Trinity Sunday, an especially interesting day on the liturgical calendar. Somehow, she had convinced him to get high at the park beforehand. He never liked pot, but she was a bad influence.

He went along with it. Part of his brain was experiencing the liturgy like never before, like it was in technicolor, like Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments.

The other part of his brain was profoundly amused by the whole thing and the fact that he was there with her. He asked her to come and she refused.

“I’m not going to some fucking Republican church service,” she said.

Then she changed her mind. Then she decided they should be stoned, so they got high in the park beforehand. Now he was wondering how he would navigate her through communion without her making a scene.

“Just hold your hands out like this,” he said showing her. “Like your holding water in your hands.”

“Is that where they pour the wine?” she asked.

This made him laugh and panic at the same time. He thought that would be a good innovation, pouring the wine into cupped hands. People were going to know he was stoned.

“No,” he whispered, “First the bread, then the wine.”

The usher got to their aisle and it was a man he knew. He smiled, let her go first, then knelt and made the sign of the cross. They managed to be the first at the kneelers.

The priest arrived at her smiling face and said, “The body of Christ, the bread of heaven.”

He was praying rapidly, she’d thrown off his timing, “Lord we do not come to this thy table trusting in our own righteousness but in thy manifold and great mercies….”

The priest looked into his eyes, “The body of Christ, the bread of heaven.”

Now the wine arrived. He realized he’d made a terrible mistake in letting her be first. Had he taken the first position, he could have shown her through example. Now, as the cup approached, his eyes got wide.

“Oh fuck!” he thought.

“The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.”

She took the chalice, a crystal goblet filled with a cheap ruby red port. He’d argued about the wine with the altar guild. He wanted something a bit less sweet, maybe something that wasn’t purchased in gallon jugs.

She took the chalice in both hands and drank it all. The whole thing in one drink. Then she handed the chalice back to the chalice bearer who looked stunned. The priest somehow noticed this and signaled one of the roving chalice bearers who had flasks of wine to refill the chalices.

One of them arrived and sloshed the ruby red port into the chalice.

“The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.”

“I’m sorry,” he said and took a drink and made the sign of the cross.

“Oh, sweet Jesus,” he said as they walked out of the church. “You slammed the blood of Christ!”

“How was I supposed to know you’re supposed to sip it?”

“You think that Jesus was shot gunning wine at the last supper?”

“That wine reminded me of the stuff we drank in the cornfields in high school,” she teased. “Do you think anybody knew we were stoned?”

“They’re Episcopalians,” he said. “Half of them were probably stoned too.”

“On what?” she wondered. “Pain killers and high blood pressure medication? I haven’t seen a crowd that old since the last time I watched a Lawrence Welk rerun.”

That made him laugh.

“Oh my God,” he said. “I haven’t thought of Lawrence Welk in years.”

He imagined the Lawrence Welk Eucharist with bubbles coming down during the elevation of the host. His ribs were hurting from laughing so hard.

They walked down the street back toward Alameda park where she convinced him to get stoned earlier.

“That one part was weird,” she said.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“That thing everyone mumbled,” she said.

“I take you to church,” he said, “You said you wanted to see my church.”

“Don’t get all defensive,” she said. She took out the service leaflet.

She jumped in front of him and read from it.

“We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all that is, seen and unseen.”

She looked at him with that light in her eyes.  

“Yeah,” he said. “So, what?”

She put her arm around a tree and smiled.

“They’re monotheists, right?” she asked.

“Look,” he said, “We were on our way to get donuts. I was promised donuts, not anthropology and theology.”

She hid her face behind the tree. She sang the creed from behind the tree, doing her best Ambrosian chant.

“We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made man.”

He laughed.

A couple of ladies walking by looked at them as she sang the creed.

“Hello, ladies,” he said. “We’re just talking about the Creed.”

She peeked back from around the tree. She was wearing a tank top. It was warm. He felt warm as he looked at her face.

“So,” she said, handing him the leaflet, “Explain to me how they can be monotheists but have God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and this Mary lady.”

He snapped it from her. He folded it and put it in his back pocket. He reached for her and held her close. She held her arms out for a minute, and then closed them around him. They looked at each other in an embrace.

“It’s not one God, it’s a clown car,” she said.

He laughed.

“You’re not supposed to understand the Holy Trinity,” he said. “But yes, the Godhead is a clown car.” Now he was laughing harder.

Then thy kissed as they leaned against a tree.

“Hey,” she said, “Donuts.” She traced a circle in the air.

“Fuck the donuts,” he said, “I want you.”

“You’ll get me later,” she said.

“Donuts first,” he said.

They wandered into the park forgetting about the donuts. She sat down and pulled him down with her. Then they both fell back looking up at the blue sky.

“It is a beautiful day, anyway,” she said.

“Anyway,” he repeated mindlessly.

“Hey, when you were a kid who did you want to be?”

“Besides President of the United States?”

“No, not a job, dummy,” she said. “I mean like someone in the world who existed but, you know, you wanted to be. Like I wanted to be Madonna.”


“Yes, she was like a god-hero. Powerful. Sexy.”

She sings softly.

“Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like . . . home”

When she got to ‘home’ she socked him in the ribs. They both laughed.

“Well, if we’re talking pop tarts,” he said. “I mean pop stars.”

Now she was laughing and rolling over on him on the grass, throwing one arm and leg over him.

“If I had to pick a pop tart,” he said keeping it going, “I’d have to say Bryan Ferry.”

She laughed.

“Why him? He’s such a fuddy duddy like Frank Sinatra born too late.”

“That’s exactly it. He wore a coat and tie and is just sexy. Yeah. Like Sinatra I guess.”

He started to sing to her.

“To need a woman
You’ve got to know
How the strong get weak
And the rich get poor”

“An erotic redistribution of emotional wealth. I like it. More of your value exchange. And Bryan Ferry is just a pop tart version of you. Like a professor that stumbled onto the stage. Or politician”

He looked at her and said, “What about Lavert?”

She laughed. He started to sing quietly to her.

I ain’t much on Casanova
Me and Romeo ain’t never been friends.
Can’t you see how much I really love you?
Gonna sing it to you time and time again.

“That’s just silly. Lavert?”

Every man deserves a good woman
And I want you to be my wife.
Time is so much better spent with
A woman just like you in my life.

She sat up and looked at him.

“Wait,” she said. “Are you asking me to marry you or are you just stoned silly?”

He got on his knees and looked at her, took her hands, and smiled.

Don’t you know that I’ll get down on my knees for you, baby?

“Where’s the ring?”

“Why ring when you can sing? I’m stoned but I’m serious. Marry me!”

“But it’s illegal, we’ll have to go to Mississippi or something.”

“It’s probably a sin too, but let’s do it any way.”

“Yes! Yes. Whatever. Let’s do it.”

They kissed each other. They had been sitting close to two other couples sitting on blankets in the park. The couples had heard his proposal and started applauding. They stopped kissing, and relaxed their embrace to acknowledge the approval with embarrassed smiles. Then they stood up and starting walking across the park toward the donut shop holding hands.

“I guess it’s going to be me and you and our little buddy,” he said. “Just the three of us.”

“Yeah,” she said. “A trinity. Father, daughter, and Holy Ghost. I am the Holy Ghost.”

“That’s just perfect, since the Trinity is held together with love,” he said. “And you really are the fucking Holy Ghost.”