Friday, March 21, 2008

From Vows, by Peter Manseau

One of the mothers would always see you if you went for the door, so the escape tactic that worked for me was to slump lower and lower in the big dining room chair until I was entirely under the table. Hidden by the curtain of the tablecloth, I'd be free to dig into my pockets for pieces of the miniature magic kit that at the time was my favorite toy. The best trick involved an orange plastic box into which a nickel would be placed. I would snap the lid on top, shake the box so I could hear the coin rattle inside, then take the lid off and - abracadabra, hocus pocus - the money was gone.

Hocus Pocus - a bit of fake Latin, I would later learn, a medieval parody of Hoc est corpus meum, the ritual words of transubstantiation, the spell for which my parents' friends now waited. Magic above the table, magic below.

"This is my body," I would hear Dad say. "This is my blood."

Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son, by Peter Manseau, (Free Press, 2005)



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