Ass Wednesday


Several years ago, when altar boy gone bad Rick Santorum was still busily embarrassing Pennsylvanians in the US Senate, I found myself watching CNN with my dear friend Tina and her mother, and one of them said, “What’s that on his forehead?”  I sheepishly glanced at the TV, being the only Catholic in a room full of Jews, afraid that what they saw was what I suspected they saw.  Sure enough, there was my nominal co-religionist, proudly spouting sanctimonious nonsense, of course, with a big ol’ black smudge on his dorky-looking mug.

I’d been through this sort of humiliation at the always theatrical kookiness of Catholicism before with Tina, when we went into cathedrals in Italy and I had to explain to her the concept of Holy Water and making the sign of the cross.  Both she and her cousin thought it was nuts, and undoubtedly pitied me for being brought up having to perform so many absurd rituals.  Fortunately, they never wanted to sit down, so I didn’t have to explain genuflecting, and they didn’t have time for Mass, so I could gloss over the whole transubstantiation thing.

As anyone who has ever been in a TV studio knows, no one goes on television without being slathered in a thick layer of pancake makeup, a fact of which we were all aware.  Further, when we were growing up, my mother always let us wipe off our ashes, and wiped off her own, as soon as we got out of sight of St. Mary Magdalene.  The very idea of wearing a black smudge  in public all day, much less on TV, would have been anathema to us all, whether or not God said so.  But for an ostentatious holy roller like little Ricky, doing so is just another way he rubs his nutty religion in everyone’s face by parading it on his own.

“It’s Ash Wednesday,” I mumbled, hoping for a commercial break before I had to go into too many details.

“But he’s not in church, he’s on CNN,” came the incredulous response.

“Yes,” I said, “but technically you’re supposed to keep the ashes on all day.”

“Did you do that?” Tina said, eyeing me suspiciously.

“Of course not,” I replied defensively.

“Do most Catholics do that?  And then go on TV?”

“Well, I suppose the really holy ones like Rick Santorum do,” I trailed off, waiting for the next volley of opprobrium, which fortunately never came.

Tonight the near front-runner for the (!) Presidency will be debating on national TV with, undoubtedly, a stupid-looking smudge on his pancaked forehead, reminding the vast majority of Americans who aren’t the most retrograde sort of Catholics of two things: 1)  Rick Santorum is an idiot, and 2) Catholicism is probably more nutty than even, say, Mormonism.

At least Mormons don’t have to wear their magic underwear on the outside.

UPDATE: To my considerable surprise, Santorum did not wear his smudge at the debate;  one must assume that his handlers (that’s a vivid thought) came to the conclusion he had already played the holy card often enough this past week.


  1. Kelly says:

    You are so descriptive and entertaining to read. I’m loving your blogs. You should have your own show.

    I came across your blog the other day when I was on Sheriff Paul Babeu’s Facebook page. Someone had posted a link to your blog, so that’s how I came across you.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Funny, but as a result of that link, I’m no longer allowed to post at “Sheriff Paul”s Facebook page. I had a million of them, but I got cut off, quite understandably when you think about it. Nyeah, nyeah, Sheriff. (Not for long, it seems…)

  2. Kelly says:

    I saw what happened. I clicked on his page to read the new comments, and saw the link to your blog. That’s when I came to your blog, and by the time I went back to the Sheriff Paul’s Facebook page it had been removed. I’m glad I noticed it before it was removed. Your blogs are super great to read. : )

  3. Kendra says:

    I can honestly say that I’ve never enjoyed reading a blog more than I do yours. Masterfully done, my young friend! I eagerly await news of a whopping book contract.

  4. avelna says:

    Ok, I couldn’t resist – you made me do it.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That was hilarious. They need to add some new verses about the pedophilia scandal, though. What rhymes with “altar boys?”

      • avelna says:

        Unfortunately, Tom Lehrer stopped writing new songs several decades ago. It’s really too bad. If you’re not familiar with him you should google him and listen to his songs – I suspect he’s right up your alley.

        • cocktailhag says:

          In a past life I worked in theatrical production, so I was already familiar with “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” and other delights. I had never heard “The Vatican Rag,” though.

  5. loretta says:

    I was fortunate to have parents who had a great sense of humor, and we listened to Tom Lehrer on vinyl. I knew all the lyrics but didn’t always understand them. Now I listen and think, holy cow, my PARENTS listened to this?!! Hilarious. My favorite is “National Brotherhood Week.”

    I’m convinced that Tom Lehrer, along with MAD magazine (another staple at my house), influenced me to write song parodies; and I’m pretty good at it, if you want me to write a new verse for “Vatican Rag” updated with the pedophile scandal, among other things that have transpired since 1965.

  6. loretta says:

    Oh, and newly-eucharized Newt didn’t wear his ashes, either; to which I was sort of surprised. I did see one woman on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last night who had a big smudge of ashes on her forehead that looked ridiculous.

    We washed them off, too, Hag. I also was told never to CHEW the host, but you know that damn thing stuck to the roof of your mouth and you had to take a bite eventually.

    I never chew the blog host, however.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I stole a rhyming dictionary from Grant High School, and to this day use it all the time. It can help anybody be a lil’ Sondheim, if they’re so inclined. I’m all over the update thing.
      I’ll have to write a rebellious Catholic kid post some day; you’ll get a kick out of it.

  7. Teddy says:

    Glad to see Colbert had his Ash forward Wednesday night, though.