Presbyterian guilt and
By Coco Hames
I can outdrink everyone in the Casbah like Marian in Indiana
Jones. But what does that mean? What higher level have I
reached? Is this an accomplishment? Should I be proud?
Sometimes I am proud. But the resulting hangovers can keep me in bed all
day. All day. Today, for instance. All I was able to do was
slowly read a pamphlet on cooking classes. And that’s it. All day.
Because yesterday I got up really early to go to church, a feat I accomplish
once every year, usually at a different church in a different city, which
invariably results in a night of heavy drinking.
I was raised Presbyterian in the south, and that’s pretty
good, because I can roll with it. My best friend was Catholic, and I was
fascinated by the differences in our churches and prayers and ceremonies, but I
never wanted to go with her to her church, because I thought it was totally
creepy. I hate ceremony. I hate dressing up and performing creepy
rituals, especially with other people. I’ve even been married, and made
sure that went down with little more than a handshake in front of our
parents. I just really can’t be bothered.
So yesterday, I went to a church in Nashville that was supposedly “cool
people church”, a term I throw around to represent everything from liberal
theological studies in Los Angeles to various Unitarian services around the
south. And I ended up with this really nice group of people at a chapel,
shined up with a cold biscuit, prepared for some cool people churchery.
And it started fine, I wasn’t too fidgety, even though nowhere in the program
did it mention “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”, the best Easter hymn
ever. My mom even said yesterday, “I was humming it while I was
brushing my teeth this morning!” But then I noticed that that wasn’t
the only difference from what I was used to.
I looked over the program some more. There were words. Catholic-y
words. Ceremony-y words. “Eucharist”.
“Communion”… It was about to get real ceremonial, real quick.
So I shuffled out of my pew as quietly as I could (which was not at all
quietly, because nothing is quieter than church, and no one is more clumsy and
accidentally noisy than me) and totally bailed. Bailed! On
Easter! The one day of the year I try to behave and do anything moral and
But then I went to the zoo, which is way more my kind of church, especially the
petting zoo, where I chatted up the keeper on Nubian goats. They’d be
good goats for me. And then, this sheepie pulled a trick on me. I
was petting this sheep, and he started breathing really heavily and quickly,
like he was overheated. He was of course covered in wool, and it was
sunny out. So I thought, oh no, is he sick? Should I go find
somebody? And I put my head up to his body and listened. I heard
gurgling. Loud gurgling. And of course I knew it right before he
did it. Sheep are ruminants and he was just ruminating, and he burped in
my face, it was fuuuuucking gross.
Coco Hames fronts The Ettes – Hames on guitar, Jem Cohen on bass and Poni
Silver on drums – whose latest album Look At Life Again Soon (Take Root) is still a hot item, and they also have a
new EP, Danger Is, released by Take
Root on April 7 and also available digitally, www.myspace.com/theettes), and a Dan Auerbach-produced limited-edition
single. They are currently ruminating upon their next full-length, but
meanwhile, they head overseas later this
month for a European tour.
[Ettes photo by Heidi Ross]