Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Onion Dome - On babushkas and yayas

Dear Matushka Svetlana,

While I was at a Bunko party at my aunt's home last weekend, she invited me to go to church with her. She told me I'd just need to be sure to bring a scarf to wear, since a woman must wear a scarf over her head in an Orthodox church.

Her friend at the next table objected. She said if you wear a scarf, someone will think you're a terrorist. Better to wear a mantilla.

My aunt said mantillas are what Roman Catholics wear, not Russians. Her friend said that was because babushkas never figured out how to make lace. Arab and Greek women wear mantillas.

A woman at the next table said that head coverings were fine in the Old Country, but she saw no reason to wear them here. And another woman said she wore them because her godmother told her to, and she thought that was a good enough reason. Her godmother wanted her headcovering to extend all the way to her elbows, so when she was chrismated, she found a nice damask tablecloth that drapes well, so she uses that.

Pretty soon, everyone was yelling so loudly, they couldn't hear me yell Bunko when I rolled three twos. By this time, I was beginning to think maybe I didn't want to visit my aunt's church anyway.

Matushka Svetlana, can you tell me what I should do?

Scarfless in Seattle

Dear Scarfless,

As my dear husband, Father Vasiliy, would say, Is Outrage! Was it arguing over head coverings in 19th Century Russia? It was not. But that is because babushkas and yayas couldn't be playing Bunko together in 19th Century Russia. They were living in different parts of world. That let them live together in peace and tranquility.

Now is different world. Babushkas and yayas can be at the same Bunko table. When this happens, Father Vasiliy knows to be staying away. Whatever he says is being too strict according to yayas, and too lenient according to babushkas. Or versa visa. And no priest wants to get between yayas and babushkas. Trust me on that.

Matushka says the babushkas and the yayas are all right. The angels want you to be covering your head, but not to be showing off. At church where women are wearing scarves, wear scarf. At church where women are bare-headed, wear fancy hat. At church where women are wearing damask tablecloths, Matushka is not knowing what to tell you.

Maybe friend of aunt could get a lace tablecloth and call it very large mantilla?

Dear Matushka Svetlana,

As I'm sure you know, one of the main topics of conversation in the US right now is the presidential election. A bunch of us were standing in the parking lot on Sunday after coffee hour, talking about who we're going to vote for, and why. And the deacon, I guess he thought we were out there having a smoke, because he came by to see if he could have a cigarette. While someone else got him a cigarette, I asked him who he was planning to vote for.

And he told me that Orthodox Christians don't vote. He said that we are citizens of heaven, not of earth, and that if we vote, we're declaring ourselves a citizen of this country, and that makes us not citizens of heaven any more, and we'd just be trading our birthright for a bowl of porridge.

I don't like to argue with clergy, you know, but I don't think he was right. What do you think?

Would-Be Voter

Dear Voter,

As my dear husband, Father Vasiliy, would say, Is Outrage! Was it smoking cigarettes in public in 19th Century Russia? No, it was not! Smokers put on smoking jacket and went to smoking room by themselves, as God intended. At least, rich people did who lived in big fancy houses. Matushka isn't being sure where common people smoked.

Even if common people smoked in public in 19th Century Russia, Matushka is being sure they didn't vote. Maybe that explains Russian Revolution. But never be minding that. Matushka reads Epistles, and she knows that the Holy Apostle Paul claimed rights of being citizen of Rome. That didn't make Holy Apostle Paul not citizen of heaven.

Matushka commends you for humility in not arguing with clergy. That is matushka's job. If you will be sending deacon to her, she will be pleased to take care of it.

Dear Matushka Svetlana,

Is there any way to persuade our parish babushka to mind her own business?

Private Polly

Dear Polly,


Matushka is thinking this is not outrage. Is just nature of things. No one is minding that stars shine in sky. This is just being what stars do. No one is minding that cats chase mice. This is just being what cats do. No one should be minding that babushkas poke noses in other people's business. This is just being what babushkas do.

Dear Matushka Svetlana,

If what you told Polly is true, what can I do? I'm not sure I even want to go to church any more. I am so tired of the babushkas and the yayas asking me when I'm going to marry my boyfriend, or telling me I need to wear a sweater when I go outside (in the summer, yet!), or giving me instructions on how to put the doughnuts on the tray for coffee hour. And if I miss a Sunday, they ask me where I was, and if I say I wasn't feeling well, they spend the next half an hour wanting to know all the details. I don't want to tell them the details! What should I do?

Give Me Space

Dear Spacey One,

Maybe nosey yayas and babushkas is outrage after all, if it makes someone not want to be going to church. But Matushka has solution for your problem, so that yayas and matushkas will stop minding your business.

When yayas and babushkas are asking you questions you don't want to answer, put hand on their arm and say, "Thank you, babushka. Please to be praying for me."

When babushkas and yayas are telling you to do things and you don't want to be told, put hand on their arm and say, "Thank you, yaya. Please to be praying for me."

Babushkas and yayas will be so pleased that you are asking for their prayers, they will stop telling you what to do so that they can be telling God what to do. God understands this. Is okay.

1 comment:

  1. Is Hilarious! Thank you, Josephus. Please be to be praying for me.