Joking in the house

My time so far in the Marians has been characterized mostly by a lot of joy. When the other members of my community and I joke around with each other, it adds to my happiness.

Welcome to Part 24 of a weekly series on the formation journey of Josh, a first-year novice at the Marian House of Studies in Washington, D.C. Watch for a new post every Friday.

Our community is having a lot of fun this year. Two “veteran” Marians told me that novices don’t always have a great time during novitiate. There can be suffering and many difficulties! It’s not easy to adopt a new way of life, and differing personalities can rub each other the wrong way.

However, my time so far in the Marians has been characterized mostly by a lot of joy. When the other members of my community and I joke around with each other, it adds to my happiness. 

Gandalf in the house
One day, as I was mopping the stairs, Deacon Jason was about to walk past me. “YOU . . . SHALL NOT . . . PAAAAASSSS!” I said to him, blocking him with my mop handle, on his way down.

Recognizing my impersonation of Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Rings, Deacon Jason burst into laughter and pretended to recoil, as if receiving whiplash from the explosive impact of my wizard’s staff. 

About half an hour later, he tried using the other staircase in the house, but by then I had moved to that staircase and was cleaning it, too.

“YOU . . . SHALL NOT . . . PAAAAASSSS!” I menaced him again with the mop.

Through his laughter. he exclaimed, “I just can’t get away from you!”

Pizza the action
On another occasion, Deacon Jason had to deal with me again, only in more challenging circumstances. He had ordered pizza for supper for the community. Various boxes of delicious pizza covered the refectory countertops. The whole community lined up and walked down the line of pizza boxes, selecting their favorite toppings.

Deacon Jason brought his plate to the table where he planned to sit and left his plate for a moment, perhaps to get a salad.

Meanwhile, I also collected a plate of pizza and left it at the table where I intended to eat, in order to get some water. 

When I returned, I sat down comfortably in front of my pizza and started munching away. 

Except it wasn’t my pizza.

“Are you seriously eating my pizza!?” Deacon Jason exclaimed, standing next to me.

I looked down, quickly grasped my mistake, and burst into a fit of laughter.

“Sorry!” I exclaimed, getting up and hurrying to the other table where I had left my plate.

Looking down at his partially-eaten pizza, Deacon Jason exclaimed, “I can see your drool on it!”

But there was a twinkle in his eye.

“I deserved that!” I acknowledged.

You look familiar
Some of the humor in our house gets much more confusing than the straightforward situations described above. One of my fellow novices is named Joseph. When I first met him, I thought he looked like a Jonathan and I started calling him “Jonathan” all the time. Then, he told me that his parish priest also called him “Jonathan” for months. So, joking around, I started calling him “Fake Jonathan.” 

Once, prior to my entering the Marian novitiate, an electronic receipt I received on my cell phone erroneously addressed me as “Joseph” instead of my real name, “Joshua.” After joining the Marians, the community in Stockbridge handed me a sheet of instructions with my name erroneously listed as “Joseph Massatt.” Therefore, Fake Jonathan started calling me, “Fake Joseph.” 

A typical random encounter between me and Joseph looks like this:

Joseph, with a pretend disgusted tone: “Oh, you.”

Josh: trying to match his tone without breaking a smile, “Oh, not you again.”

Joseph: “Anti-Greetings.”

Josh: “Anti-Salutations.”

Joseph: “Triple Anti-Salutations.”

Josh: “The same to you, Fake Jonathan. You’re looking very fraudulent today.”

Joseph: “Yes, Fake Joseph, and you seem to be looking very well. Though, seeing as I look fraudulent, I leave it to you to determine the value of this assessment.”

Joseph told me recently that even our novice master, Fr. Jim, enjoys giving him blessings, using his nickname “Fake Jonathan.” 

Fr. Jim mentioned to me that all this “Joshua,” “Joseph,” “Fake Joseph,” “Fake Jonathan” stuff gets him confused, and I had to tell him that recently it even confused Joseph and me!

When Joseph and I met each other recently in the corridor leading to the novice hall, I accidentally greeted him as, “Fake Joseph,” to which he responded without thinking, “Fake Jonathan.” Then, we both stopped and looked at one another.

Realizing our mistakes, he protested, “Hey, no, I’m the Real Joseph, you’re Fake Joseph!”

“We’re getting into trouble if we’re even mixing each other up!” I said, as we laughed.

This novice class has a lot of fun!

Next entry: "Heartbreak Hill."
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