Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Charlotte Country Club

The Charlotte Country Club is not a country club at all. I'm sure there are real country clubs down here, but it appears that church has taken the place of the traditional country club in the South. I knew that Charlotte had sort of a Jesus vibe when I first arrived. When you leave the Airport, you take Billy Graham Parkway to the interstate. You pass the Billy Graham Library as well as signs to Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's mega church (which is about five miles down the road). Then after you get off at my exit, you pass the Bible Broadcasting Network headquarters and this megachurch and this one and then you get to my house. Yeah, that first one is actually a church and not a Vegas casino. The place actually has named parking lots. Honey, did we park in Moses 4 or Abraham 3 today?

So back to the country club thing. When people find out that you're new to Charlotte, they try to feel you out to find out if you're a 'member' of a church yet or not. The same way that people do with country clubs everywhere else. They don't ask you if you go to church or what religion you are, they ask about membership. I didn't really know that this was an option, this whole membership thing, but I guess it is. Oh, and everyone has a bumper sticker for their corresponding church. At first I thought this was strange, but now I've got a theory that the church bumper sticker must be some kind of parking pass. Maybe if you have the bumper sticker, you get to park in Lot Jesus 1 instead of Lot Moses 4.

People that you meet are usually pretty forward with the church membership courtship process. Referring back to a previous post... the dog park guy who I awkwardly asked for his phone number...Kate and I went out with him and his wife, and we were only about a half hour into our date before we started getting the questions about our membership. Same thing happened with our neighbors. They had us over for dinner, and I don't think we even got to the main course before the sales pitch started. Here's how the conversation usually goes:

New Potential Friend: "So, have you guys joined a church yet?"
Nate (seeming completely uninterested) - "Nope"
Kate (showing more interest/just being nice) - "No, no we haven't"
New Potential Friend's Wife - "Oh, well we're members of [insert church name here]"
New Potential Friend - "[Church Name] isn't like other churches. It's really casual. People wear jeans and drink coffee and the [pastor/preacher/reverend] wears jeans"
Nate (still uninterested) - "Okay"
New Potential Friend's Wife - "We'd love for you guys to come with us this Sunday and be our guests and then go get breakfast afterwards"
Kate - "We'll see what we've got going on this weekend and will let you know"

So then Kate and I talk about it after the end of the date:

Nate - "I don't want to go to church with them"
Kate - "What if we go and then we don't like it and then at breakfast we just talk about church and then we don't go back and then every time we go out with them afterwards they are always thinking/talking about church and it would be really weird"
Nate - "I don't want to go to church with them"

So then I did what anyone in my position would do. I googled the local Catholic Church, found out what time mass was, and then came up with a story that we were going to that church instead. Which, of course, we weren't. I know that lying about church is probably not a very good thing to do, and Law and Order has taught me of the dangers of making up a false alibi, but I thought it was my only option here. Oh, and I'll clarify here that I've got nothing against church. But if a church isn't your particular brand of whiskey, that's okay too. 

It would be really cool if people around here would take that approach with actual country clubs. "Hey Nate, have you guys joined a country club yet? We're members of Quail's not like other country clubs, because you can wear jeans when you golf. If you want, you can come with me this Saturday morning for 18 holes and then we can have breakfast at the club afterwards." 

That hasn't happened yet. Probably never will. But a girl can dream, right?


Al Iverson said...

Ew, church.

How about, why don't we go to the pornography store, and then afterward we can go get breakfast?

crs said...

Pornography store, eh? Sounds like my kind of Sunday! Especially if there's bacon afterward.

Kath said...

HILARIOUS post Nate!!! Brilliant ending :) (Clearly I am catching up...)

Nate Romance said...

Thanks Kath. Good luck catching up. Lucky for you the blog was on a 6 month sabbatical, so there aren't too many posts.