Angry Atheist in Missouri goes to church for free food, tonight.

I know my intro post wasn't very clear. Let me start by laying out the scene a little better. About a month ago I moved from el Valle in Albuquerque, NM to a farm in the St. Francis Mountains (if they can be called that with a straight face) south of St. Louis, where I live with my GF and her grandma, who lost her husband a few months before. Oh yeah, plus our three dogs, three inside cats, three outside cats, and two inside birds. We don't count outside birds. :D

My GF -- let's call her "A" -- and I are openly atheist, and know only one atheist in the area, and A knows a lot of people here, having grown up on the back 40 of the farm. No, really... the actual back forty acres. Consequently, our social interactions are rather limited, and generally dictated by grandma's -- let's call her "S" -- preferences.

One of the things S likes to do every week is "go to Cornerstone," a free meal program held by the local Methodist church. She can't go alone, so A has to take her; but A doesn't like to go alone because creepy toothless overweight dudes keep inviting her to "fellowship" with a lurid wink and nod. Oh joy! That' means I get to go, too!

The first time I was a little intimidated -- it's been a while since I've set foot inside a church building. "Don't be," A assured me. "They're Methodists." "Right," I said, and plunged in.

It's a hoot. I'm gonna bring a tiny sketchbook one of these days and will upload my impressions for illustrative purposes. Some real characters show up, and do they like to talk about themselves. Just describing the more colorful diners makes me feel ashamed of myself, as if I'm stereotyping them.

Most have all their teeth, I'll give them that. A fair share are unremarkable family folk. The outliers? Straight out of an SNL skit, mullets and all. There's the lady who gets out of line to take dessert to her permanent spot. She has few teeth, and the oddest mullet in a ponytail ever. There's "permullet" in his cowboy jacket and boots -- part perm, part mullet. There's the XXL family who share the same hairstyle, both men and women -- part bowl-cut, part... er... mullet?

Meanwhile, we're in this big dining hall with the worst acoustics ever. You can hear a tinny whisper from across the room. To stop foodfights from starting (I assume), they try to have live music every week. The band is amateur, but dedicated and not without talent, so it's a relief, even if it does just add to the clanging ringing and force all the elderly to turn up their hearing aids and yell their gossip, instead. The cacophony effectively renders most of the backbiting unintelligible.

Last week, we accidentally made it on time. Usually, it turns out, A goes out of her way to be fashionably late -- as they prey before eating. I mean, y'know, pray. It was the first time in decades that I'd been in a position where I had to gawk around, bored, while a crowd of ostensible adults went through that hollow ritual. I must have mellowed with age. I didn't get irritated at all. Also, it was very short.

Tonight, we're determined to be at least five minutes late. S hates it when we're late, but not because she wants to pray. She just wants to eat. Heheh. So we'll try to split the difference this week.

This has been another dispatch from very rural Missouri.

Angry Atheist Out.

UPDATE: We're having "Juicy Burgers" tonight! Oh boy! A wonders why they don't just call them "Sloppy Joes," since apparently S salivates and slurps when she pronounces "Juicy". More later.

UPDATE: It worked - we missed the pre-meal prayer by mere seconds by stopping to pet a dog out front.

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