T

he sermon had begun and so I’d given up on the boys attending the service as I’d told them too. When they finally did arrive, scuttling in on either end of the pew, I could smell them before I could see them.

They smelled like syrup.

“Take your mask off!” I whisper-shouted at Roy who had entered the sanctuary looking exactly as you see him pictured above. (To be honest, I was a little thrown—like when you drink from a glass that you thought was water and it turns out to be milk. Who was this masked man?)

“Mommy, they still need our help,” Roy told me urgently. “Can we go back?”

Roy wanted to return to the parish hall, where he was helping to serve a million pancakes to the congregation as part of the church’s early celebration of Shrove Tuesday or just plain old Fat Tuesday to all of you heathens reading (laissez les bons temps rouler!).

“Why do you smell like syrup if you’ve been serving pancakes and not eating them?” I asked, suspicious.

“Because one of my jobs is taking the syrup from each table back to the kitchen where they refill it, and then I have to take it back to the table,” Roy reassured me.

Roy likes to have a job, and serving breakfast to the parishioners alongside the older youth offered him several. In addition to his syrup responsibilities, Roy helped peel a mountain of clementines. (He said his morning’s service had been valuable in this if in no other way because he had finally gotten the hang of opening and peeling an orange, an important life skill.) His favorite task was clearly serving the pancakes themselves, lording over the silver trays stacked high with a pair of plastic tongs. It’s been a big week for tongs in our family.

“How many pancakes would you like?” he asked the good people, over and over again.

I turned to Marcel on the other side of me.

“Do you have to go back?” I asked him.

“No,” he told me.

But when I turned back to discuss this discrepancy in their understanding of the extent of the need for their support back in the kitchen, my not-so-little masked man was gone

That was alright, though. There is a year full of Sundays that are quiet and staid, structured in word and action from beginning to end. This would be the only one with masks and crowns and excessive amounts of syrup and so I let him stay gone.