Forgive me this story- there is no intent on laughing at someone's misfortune, but we'll get to that part later. It is, afterall, where the title is derived.
I was quite the silent child (except in the company of family, where it was claimed I had a bell on every tooth) but always could manage to find some way to make noise in church.
When you think of church, you generally think of the calm voice of the priest, peaceful silence- or perhaps voices raised in song or prayer ... I think of a few of the loudest things in church.
The first loudest thing in church is a problem that still exists today in quiet churches... it's the dreaded kneeler. Not only was it hard to kneel on (although they appear to have lovely cushions today) but it was hard NOT to move it up and down as needed because it was too close to stand when the kneeler was down.
If you did try to move it into the up or down position during one of those "peaceful silence" periods during mass you surely woke the dead as it hit the floor or the "up resting place" BLAM! Strangers' heads would turn and their faces would hold that "disappointed" look.
It did make for fun when you wanted to appear REALLLLLY tall, but I think that usually solicited a quick, silent slap- or at least those mother-eyes when you did it.
It was a problem for the fidgety, quite one, ME.
The second loudest thing in church is pictured below. Do you know what it is? Do you realize that if the mass is at one of those "peaceful silence" periods, it IS the loudest thing in church if you can't stop playing with it...
Give up? It's a hat holder! You press that button at the top and the bottom clasp opens- only problem... if you don't put a hat in the clasp and you release the button it SNAPS shut with a noise that reverberates through the church echoing for what seems like minutes and causes your mother to lean across a dad and two siblings and slap you so hard and so silently that you wonder WHY you would EVER touch the hat holder again, but you do.
Furthermore, if you put your finger in to try and STOP the noise because you don't have a hat to place in the holder (remember, females had to wear their hats in church) you had an even louder noise... you SCREAM! Those suckers were killers! One would think that a lowly hat would not need to be held quite so securely, but alas, they had more pressure than a rat trap!
But, the final loudest thing in church only happened once. THIS is the thing that you need to know, I am not mocking or laughing (well, yeah, I am laughing, but WITH the noisemaker.. not AT the noisemaker). It happened when the beautiful old church was being torn down and mass was held in the gymnasium of the school.
Old Father Joe (about 1,000 years old) was recessing out of mass carrying the chalice (because there was no place to keep it on the altar... unless under the basketball hoop would be ok, but I think not) up the very large staircase at the back of the gym.
It traversed two floors, so it was amazingly long... and steep... and Old Father Joe had on his robes and had no hands free to hold the railing... can you see where this is headed???? He was a tad overweight - oh wait! There's a photo....
He got about three-quarters of the way up the stairs and must have stepped on his robes... and as he began to tumble down down down, a hush fell over the packed gymnasium. He hit the gym floor but the chalice had not fallen with him, it was balanced ever so precariously on the highest step that he had climbed to. While the ushers tended to Old Father Joe, the round edge of the chalice caused it to become unbalanced and roll in the same direction that Old Father Joe rolled... and when I tell you that golden chalice HIT EVERY STEP on the way down, I am not exaggerating! Bing, bing, bang, bling, bing, bing... then the chalice lid waddawadawadaa wup wup waaa waaa waaa... you get the picture?
To this day, it is why the church bells peal at the end of mass... JUST in case Old Father Joe is making his way up a very steep staircase somewhere in heaven we wouldn't want him to be embarrassed. Amen.