I took my first communion at eight years old. Now, I've watched enough Real Housewives of New Jersey to know that this is kind of a big deal. However, I was raised Methodist, so I didn't get a frilly white dress with a veil or have to say catechisms or such. In fact, I probably wore the same ugly blue polka-dotted dress I wore for everything else back then. Whatever.
Anyway, my mom sorta kinda told me it was a big deal when we were leaving for church that morning. In fact, her words were, "You're taking your first communion today." And that was pretty much it. I don't know what my thoughts were, but I'm almost certain they were along the lines of, "do we get free food," "do we have to make a speech," or "do we have to get dunked". I had an ungodly fear of immersion baptism up until a couple of months ago; one of the reasons I wanted to be baptized Methodist was because they didn't do immersion baptism. Isn't that terrible?
Where was I? Oh. Right. Communion. My mom was sorta kinda explaining to my curious 8-year-old self that communion was a sacrament using physical elements to join with the Holy Trinity. She was doing a really good job...I think. What I remember was her talking about the bread being the body of Christ, and the blood of Christ being signified by the wine.
Waaaaaaait a minute. Wine? Did you say...wine? As in, the alcoholic beverage?
Yes, I was eight years old, and this was exactly where my mind went. And to be honest, I have no idea why. I never saw a drop of alcohol in my house until my grandparents decided that raisins soaked in gin would help with weight loss (another story, another time), so where this was coming from, I still don't know.
I asked my mom, "they even give it to the kids?!?" I guess she assumed I was generally speaking, because her answer was, "well, of course." This was all going on in whisper mode, by the way--as in during the church service. Why we didn't have this conversation beforehand, I'll never know, but alas...whatevs.
Anyway, I watched the other congregants as the rounds were made. All I could think was, "I wonder what it will taste like," and "they're really going to let me have this and I won't be in trouble?!? Oh boy!!" I also think something like, "I can't wait to tell everyone at school tomorrow! They won't believe it!" I know, I sound horrible, right?
Finally it was our turn. We slowly made our ceremonious walk to the railing. For whatever reason, I had a really hard time figuring out where I was supposed to go, which later became one of the reasons I hated taking communion, because I didn't like the pressure of having to find my exact placement. It gave me great anxiety. Anyway, I knelt down, to the left of my mother.
The pastor went down the line, breaking the bread, saying the ritual "The body of Christ is broken for you..." I snatched up my bread and started gnawing on it (I was hungry by this time, okay?). I would for sure need something to wash it down. How convenient...
Here the lay leader came with the wine. I could taste it, I could taste it, I could taste it!! She said something about "the blood..." Yada, yada, yada, get on with it!!! Finally! Down the hatch...
The next thing I knew, I was whisper-yelling, "M-O-O-O-O-O-M!!!"
There's no other way to say it, other than she was visibly pissed. "Whut?!?" She hissed it with gritted teeth and scrunched lips, which is why it came out as "whut".
I was yelling now. "M-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-M! We got gypped! This isn't wine...IT'S WELCH'S GRAPE JUICE!! We...were...gypped!"
I have never felt a hand fly over my mouth so fast. She was so mad she had her trademark I'm-going-to-breathe-fire look. Oh crap. Luckily (or unluckily for one of us), the time between communion and the end of the service was short. And that's the last thing I remember from that day...
As an update to that event, I eventually got to try the real deal at another church five years after that incident. After what had happened during the first try, I wasn't nearly excited about this go-round. Let me tell you--it was THE WORST stuff I have ever tasted, The only thing I can equate it to gasoline, and I've never even tasted that. And you know what? Welch's grape juice wasn't so bad after that.