That was a private joke my Dad and I shared. I think I was ten or so when it first emerged. Like most private jokes, it didn’t make much sense to anyone else but us.
It happened at mass one nondescript Sunday when he caught me smiling in the middle of a call and response section between the priest and the congregation. Then, during a sung prayer I was struggling to restrain the guffaws that were aching to be let loose in this sanctified sanctuary.
My 10 year old mind had replaced the words “cha cha cha” with whatever response the congregation was replying to the priest’s call. It also fit neatly into the dramatic pauses hymns were wont to have. (See, I told you it wouldn’t make any sense… unless you were the 10 year old me.)
Part of the post mass family Sunday ritual was to catch brunch at Chong Kee, a coffee-shop/restaurant. While Mum was off ordering her favorite popiah… Dad leaned over and asked me what I was laughing at in church. I hesitated… only because I thought the only decent response to what had run through my mind would be frowned upon at best.
Finally, I relented and tried to explain it to him. He really wasn’t getting it. So, I decided to demonstrate what I was trying to explain what was so hilarious to me. I began singing a section of the mass…
Lamb of God,
cha cha cha
Who takes away the sins of the world,
cha cha cha…
As I sang softly his smile got wider and wider. I felt like I was on top of the world. He genuinely thought this stupid joke was funny… plus, “Dad approval” is always a cool thing to get.
Then Mum returned and brunch was back to normal.
Yeah, it was a stupid joke. We never shared it with Mum… ever. Simply because she took the ostentatious nature of mass much more seriously than the two of us did. At least, I discovered this fact about Dad that day… betraying the often stoic face he often wore in public. Soon after I had forgotten about the joke.
Then, two weeks later, in church, when the “Lamb of God” section of the mass came up… Dad tapped his fingers three times each time the pauses between came up. I looked at him as he betrayed a sly smile with a fleeting glance at me.
He had remembered and “secret coded” the joke back to me. How cool was that?! I nearly bust a gut but restrained myself. From that point on this became “our thing”.
This was a memory I recalled a couple of nights ago as I was about to drift into dreamland and it made me laugh out loud. It took me over an hour to get back to sleepy time.
It wasn’t something I had thought about in a long time and I couldn’t be happier that it has sneaked back into my life. It’s the little things, eh?