Ash Wednesday can also pose some problems. For some reason, I've always had an important meeting on Ash Wednesday. A Hollywood meeting. A no-jeans and try to dress up meeting. These meetings are always scheduled in the late afternoon after I've been to Mass and been slathered with ashes on my forehead.
I'm pretty white and pasty so the ashes stand out.
I always arrive at these meetings as a well-dressed man who looks like he rubbed his forehead in a charcoal pit. The assistant to whatever high-powered exec I'm meeting with will always be pleasant. They'll offer me coffee, water and stare at my forehead while smiling. You can tell they're thinking, "This poor guy doesn't know he's got crud all over his forehead. How do I tell him? What should I say." Invariably after some pleasant chit chat they'll let me know there's a washroom down the hall.
I always try to find a way to let them know it's Ash Wednesday. I'll say, "Glad I could get here on time. Ash Wednesday services went a little longer than I planned."
There's always a sigh of relief from the assistant. "Oh, that's right. Ash Wednesday. I see the ashes there. Oh. Okay."
However, the relief they feel that comes from not having to tell me to go wash my face is quickly replaced by another fear. The fear that I could quite possibly be a religious fanatic and might, at any moment, whip out a bible, fall to my knees and bid the Holy Spirit to rid this place of evil. I have never done this. (I have only fallen to my knees once when Bill Maher snuck up behind me and clubbed me with a baseball bat.)
Eventually, the assistant will lead me into the meeting with the important Hollywood person I'm there to see. And the whole thing will happen again. I'll sit there. They'll ask if the assistant offered me any water or coffee. There's a washroom down the hall. They'll stare at my forehead. I say my clever thing about being glad I made it there in time because ASH WEDNESDAY services ran late and...
"Ahh. Right. Ash Wednesday. Yes. I see them there. I wouldn't have noticed."
The meetings always go well after that. Although, on a number of occasions, I've noticed that some people keep their fingers poised on a secret button under their desk in order to summon security if I start speaking in tongues or levitate.
Luckily today I have no meetings. I'm just going to the gym. People there could care less.