Wednesday, March 12, 2014

the time I was Satan.

Once upon a time, I was Satan.

(I’ll let that sink in for a moment.)

Allow me to explain. The year was 2003, and Lent was upon us. I was a sophomore in high school, and (this is important) I was dork and didn’t care. I was knee-deep in activities like band, oral interp, and school plays, and I also taught Sunday School and was occasionally recruited to act out some skits (yes, skits) during church. I am not (and have never been) all that religious, but I’m a Lutheran – so when your pastor asks you be in a skit at church, you do it.

So it was March-ish, and I was in an art class with my friend Bob. Bob, a fellow Lutheran, was heavily involved in theatre, and he was involved in these church skits right along with me. At the time, Bob and I weren’t close – we had fun in class together, but we didn’t hang out. Oddly enough, this next series of events is what turned our acquaintance into a friendship that made us nearly inseparable for the rest of high school and has been going strong ever since.

(Side note: I wouldn’t have been able to tell this story without the oddly detailed emails that I sent my friend Sue in Connecticut – and managed to compile into a Word document more than ten years ago. Thank you, fifteen-year-old-self, for hoarding all these emails, and thank you, Sue, for being patient enough to read them.)

Anyway, one day in art class, Bob said, “The pastor asked me to be Jesus for Lent.” After a quizzical look, he explained that our pastor had a script with a skit for each Wednesday in Lent. Each skit featured Jesus and Satan, and the subject for each skit was a temptation of Jesus. Bob said that while the part of Jesus was filled, the pastor was still on the hunt for Satan.

When I came home after school that day, I had a message from the pastor – he wanted me to be Satan. (It’s not every day that a pastor calls you up and asks you if you’d like to be Satan.) I called him back accepted the part, choosing not to ask him why I was his first choice for Satan. (Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.)

I hung up the phone and yelled, “I’m Satan!” Dad, not missing a beat, said, “How fitting.”

That was only the first of many such comments.

The skits were lengthy, so no memorization was required. Bob and I each had little binders that we’d read from – as we were seasoned oral interp veterans, this would be a piece of cake. We’d perform one skit at each Wednesday night Lenten service, and one final skit on Easter Sunday.

The Lenten services were held in the chapel of our church – it was a much smaller space, and since so few people actually came to the Wednesday night services, it would’ve looked simply pathetic to put them in the large sanctuary. Bob and I stood at the front of the church for each skit, and – for reasons that escape me – we stood on chairs each time.

The chairs proved to be dangerous, especially for someone like me who has no balance and can have trouble staying upright while standing on both feet on the ground. There was more than one occasion when I was not paying as much attention as I should have, and I almost walked right off the edge of the chair. Smooth, Satan. Smooth.

The scripts were magnificently cheesy (actual line: “this is only the beginning… the second round is about to begin”), but Bob and I really got into it. I started wearing red devil horns and dressing in black, and Bob in turn dressed in white. Even though Wednesday night crowd was sparse at best, they were still our adoring public. We were always met with a slew of positive comments – one of my favorites being from a man who told me I take after my mother. (Mom didn’t love the Satan comparison, but the rest of us did.) Dad, of course, always did a good job of telling me that I was truly meant for the part.

Our grand finale was on Easter Sunday. Our church has a sunrise service at 7am and a regular service at 930, and we were slated to perform for both of them. The Easter skit consisted of me/Satan ranting and raving while Bob/Jesus stood by the church’s giant Easter cross looking sad. Now, I’m no actor, but my vague recollection of those performances is that they went well. I believe the pastor even said, “May you never play Satan that well!”

When I got home from church that day, there was devil’s food cake waiting.
Could it be... SATAN?!

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