Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Vintage 2006

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Submitted to Cursor.org by Gary Indiana.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Liquid fish--a tale of revenge

A friend of my wrote up this account of her amusing encounter with an annoying church across the street.

Liquid Fish

In the late 80’s as a student I lived in South Austin just south of the river near the Continental Club and the Opry House when it was still a cheap place to live. Our house was across the street from the back of the South Congress Avenue Baptist Church, which was probably the second most evil church in Austin at the time. They were certainly the worst neighbors I’ve ever dealt with.

Churchgoers’ ugly 80’s sedans with Jesus fish plastered on the backs blocked driveways throughout the neighborhood when the vast expanse of asphalt that faced our house across the street filled up Sunday mornings. They regularly held rummage sales that started long before we wanted to be up, and my roommate was once threatened with a running circular saw by a parishioner for complaining that he was doing church repairs too early in the morning at 6 a.m. They had a basketball hoop that was used pretty much 24/7 that was positioned such that our bedroom window faced it. There is nothing quite like the “boink boink” of a basketball being dribbled when you’re trying to sleep in on a Saturday morning—like an annoyingly persistent drip of water except worse, because you lie there picturing the player dead from some kind of awful sporting accident involving an impalement that tragically never arrives.

"I specifically remember hearing a fishy version
of Kiss’ Lick It Up done as Lift Him Up."

They held Christian “rock concerts” on the asphalt some summer evenings with the giant speakers facing our house and the chairs set up all the way to the front of the stage since there was no dancing, you know--these were Southern Baptists. I specifically remember hearing a fishy version of Kiss’ Lick It Up done as Lift Him Up. The worst really was the free Vacation Bible School where every brat for miles around was dropped off to play loudly all day on the asphalt ocean in the Texas summer heat and learn about Jeebus.

We had a pretty longstanding and escalating war with them over the several years we lived there. We left fake love letters on the windshields of family men and ministers during Sunday services, and wrote “Jesus fucks dogs” on the dusty back window of the church’s 14-passenger van for the vacation bible school kids to discover…the youth minister didn’t just wipe that one off, he took the van for a carwash and probably prayed heartily for our souls. At one point during that summer that youth minister David Love (no, really, that was his name) came by to introduce himself in a futile attempt to make peace and get us to stop playing Too young to date or John Wayne was a Nazi or some other raunchy punk as loud as we could for the kiddos and “rock” concerts. He left in tears that day.

"David Love (no, really, that was his name) came by to
... get us to stop playing ... John Wayne was a Nazi
or some other raunchy punk..."

We were college students on a budget living in our own sprawling un-airconditioned hell, and would often buy big packages of fish or chicken because it was cheaper per serving that way. I’d separate the pieces of fish, or whatever, and freeze them in my mother’s old stained hand-me-down Tupperware containers with some kind of marinade to pull out and cook up when I had time or found the inspiration.

Now we weren’t really good housekeepers, and one day when mucking out that godawful kitchen because we were out of coffee cups or something, I came across a yellowed Tupperware container on the counter with an opaque yellow-white fluid in it. Now, if you’ve ever been a college student like I was a college student, you know better than to open such things after they’ve been sitting on the counter for days in the summer heat--and this was Texas, remember. A sudden distant memory was stirred…this was that fish I was going to cook the other day before I got so distracted by something else. A stomach-quivering “oh shit” flew through my mind. There appeared to be nothing solid left in the container at all. Oh please let the lid stay on tight.

Appalled by my discovery, I had to share with my housemate what I had unearthed in the kitchen. We sat in the living room sweating in the August heat and looking out the front windows, but too repulsed to return to the kitchen and actually face The Tupperware. The 120 degree asphalt hell across the street was empty that day…except for the church van. And golly, they seemed to have left the popout windows in the very rear of that church van open to vent the ghastly heat out, as if that actually helps in August when there are heat mirages on the blacktop 10 feet in front of you. Suddenly a horrendously wicked impulse overcame us.

"Suddenly a horrendously wicked impulse overcame us."

Retrieving the gruesome item from the kitchen counter, I crossed the street, popped the lid, and poured the vile viscous liquid through the back window of that van while breathing through my mouth (a skill learned in nursing school, BTW) and returned home cackling furiously. We watched as the regular folks and the Vacation Bible School kids showed up, hoping to see the reaction when someone opened the door of the van, but to our mixed disappointment and glee, the van sat and sat. For days in the 100+ degree heat, the van sat, and apparently no one needed it to pick up shut-ins for church or shuttle kiddos to gawd-know-where.

We were a bit disappointed but several days later, I biked home from summer school classes only to see David Love hosing down the inside of that van with all the upholstery disassembled in the parking lot. He glared at me and I smiled and waved, only to collapse in laughter inside. I’m still sorry I didn’t get to actually see his initial reaction, but my imagination provides me with plenty of visions of what it might have been. Wonder if that van was ever the same after that. Score another one for the obnoxious atheists across the street.