The Sunday before Christmas I planned to do some surveying for my Geography project. My mother had other ideas. She bought the entire family tickets to a 'Gospel Brunch.' My brothers protested on the grounds that the Redskins had a game and my parents allowed them to stay home. I pointed out that I wanted to skip to do actual work instead of just watching TV. They made me go anyway.
So my parents, my mom's friend, and I set off to the Gospel Brunch. We got there late, which upset my dad. He hates being late for anything, whether it be the airport or a forced brunch. His life philosophy is "be early and bring a book." He once told me to write that down. I made a note on my phone.
So we got there and a woman gave us wristbands. Mine said 'under 21' so I ripped it off and stuffed it in my pocket. We went downstairs and sat at a table- under a sign that said Holiday Singalong.
My dad flagged a waiter in a Santa hat to ask whether it was a gospel brunch or a singalong. Santa Hat replies that it was a singalong but the earlier group had gotten really into it and he expected us to compete.
My dad ordered three mimosas.
For brunch we got a shrimp dish that didn't appear to have any shrimp in it, lukewarm gumbo, and fried chicken. We had been expecting the Harlem Gospel Choir- what we got was three middle aged white guys in argyle sweaters named Charlie, Bob, and Jerry.
Charlie played the piano and sang into a microphone. Every once in a while he would impart little bits of wisdom like "if you have to choose between singing and mimosas, drink first and sing later" and "channel your inner Judy Garland." The crowd wasn't very receptive at first because it turned out most of them had also been expecting gospel. The more people drank, the more excited they got to sing carols.
When the Santa-hatted waiter tried to get us to croon along to Elvis' "Blue Christmas" my dad went upstairs to watch the Redskins game at the bar.
Sitting there, I alternated between a desire to get really into it and start belting, and a desire to throw some fried chicken at Charlie. In the end, I spent most of my time watching the group of grad school kids at the next table get steadily drunker until one of them stood up and danced.
At the merciful end, we called my dad from the bar and walked back to the car. My mom put her arm around me and asked if I would go to a real Gospel Brunch with her sometime. I started walking faster.