I’m going to attempt to write this post at work. This will require me to write in short bursts, but we’ll have a go. And don’t worry- of course this will negatively affect my productivity. It’ll also negatively affect the quality of this writing, no doubt.
Yesterday, a co-worker of mine provided me with a surprisingly vivid description of a visit she recently made to a judgment house. I say surprisingly vivid because I generally have no idea what she’s talking about as she begins her unsolicited monologues seemingly mid-thought, and this was no exception, as it took me several minutes to figure out, in my non-evangelical mind, what a judgment house is. Aside from the primary subject of her story, though, she actually described the scene with remarkable poetry. A judgment house, it turns out, is the Southern Baptist counter-point to the traditional Halloween haunted house. Haunted houses, being the evil propaganda of the Dark Lord that they are, need an opposing influence to try to save some of our heathen souls, but we’ll get to that later.
First I’ll do my best to relate the scene in the storyteller’s own words, or at least in my closest approximation:
"We’s sittin’ there (in a church, waiting to go into the judgment house) and she (her fat mother-in-law who lives on a dubious disability claim) is eatin’ like three bags of cookies, cuz she don’t go nowhere if there ain’t free food involved, and she don’t need to be eatin’ cookies in the first place, and that escaped convict Gollum, seriously he looks just like that Gollum, looks like he just cain’t wait to get out of there and have a cigarette ("Gollum" is a guy who the mother-in-law corresponded with while he was in prison and who decided to skip out on his parole to come live with her. He is a fugitive from the law.) My husband (who she claims to hate, collects disability just like his momma, and loves nothing more than fast-food and motorcycles) and his brother’s sittin’ there lookin’ at a sport-bike magazine with nekkid women in it, in a church!"
Her account was much longer and included many more beautiful stereotype-reinforcing details, but needless to say, I wished mightily that I could have been there to absorb the degenerate ambience of that undoubtedly faux-wood paneled room, which must have smelled like a heady blend of stale cigarettes, french fries, and old lady (and if the church’s nursery was nearby, throw that in, too.)
All I could discern from her description of the actual judgment house was that the room that simulated hell was really hot. I’m picturing an angry preacher in a red suit with a pitchfork. I’ve got to go to one of these judgment houses, but not for the same reasons that my co-worker’s mother-in-law insists they go to one every October, meaning both the free food and the potential everlasting salvation. Actually, I’m all for the free food, but the rest of the experience sounds like it has to be good for one of those deep, soul-cleansing laughs, which may be a religious experience in itself.
Just for reference I should add that I was raised Methodist and in our church we had an annual haunted house, complete with moaning ghosts and gory sight-gags. I didn’t know Halloween was evil and blasphemous until an adult told me so long after the damage had been done.