In Kuwait, Christmas and New Year midnight masses, which are typically scheduled for 8:15pm instead of midnight, were (are) an event. Girls go shopping in October to pick out their midnight mass outfits hoping to impress that ugly loser they think is hotstuff. Guys go out the night before and buy a different tie to go with the suit from 4 years ago, hoping that the chick they want to impress does not notice. Oh but we all noticed. We didn’t care. It was a night of excitement.
Now 5 years later, here I am again. I found myself at one of these “events” with what would have been considered a less than average outfit back in the hay day and no ugly loser to impress. But this time, I was the silent third party observer. Tonight, I’m here to tell you what to expect and how to survive a Christmas/ New Year mass in Kuwait.
Typically, for a ‘midnight’ mass that’s scheduled for 8:15pm, one should arrive at the venue for 7:20pm if you stand any sort of chance at getting a bit of pew and parking space. You best have a place to sit because this mass will last for weeks and you better be getting parking space or you walk for half hour in 3 inch heels on desert terrain.
In the unfortunate but very likely event that you’re not the only one in Kuwait who has foresight (surprise), EVERYONE will show up at 7:20pm. You may look around to find someone you know to kill one hour with. If you are a member of my family, you keep your head down for one hour because if someone comes by to say hello, you will be spending the next hour trying to remember where the hell you know them from.
And then you will see the following. Girl spots boy that she dressed up for. Boy spots girl that he marinated in that obnoxiously overpowering cologne for. They come together. They don’t hug. They just shake hands and give each other two cheek kisses. Email me if you don’t know what the hell cheek kisses are. It’s like a Bollywood movie. Only thing missing is a song and two trees.
Anyway, it’s time to get into the church. However, this mass has picked up quite the crowd. In fact, there are so many people that even the church ushers aren’t able to control the situation. So this is what happens.
People from the previous mass will try to get out. However, people for the 8:15pm mass are trying to get in. So in the true spirit of the season, everyone starts pushing each other. You have two teams. Team Get-me-the-heck-out-of-here is trying to get out of the church and Team Move-bitch-get-out-the-way are trying to get in to the church. I will not go into ugly details, but let me tell you this for future reference. Team Move-bitch ALWAYS kicks Team Get-me’s ASS!
Anyway, so now we’re in the church and it’s a jungle in there, people. Every man, woman and child for himself. You do not sit together with your beloved family members for Christmas mass. No my friends, you sit wherever you find an empty spot. One hesitant breath is the difference between either sitting in church uncomfortably or lining up near the parking lot hoping to get a glimpse of one of the pillars. The choir is always headed by Tony Pinto with his pre-programmed Yamaha organ beats and Salvador Gomes with his violin that has been out of tune for the last 6 and half years. (Names are made up)
Everything is going smoothly when suddenly, a cell phone rings…REALLY LOUD. Everyone throws a disapproving look at the owner of the cell phone. She smiles apologetically. Things are normal. And then it happens again. And again. And again. This crazy woman does not know how the hell to turn off a cell phone! Everyone looks pissed off with good reason. But I later find that this is apparently a normal occurrence at masses in Kuwait. You then wonder if it was a normal occurrence to take a ringing cell phone during mass and smash it to tiny pieces with the heel of a stiletto.
Anyway, mass is eventually done and it’s time to go home. This time, I’m on Team Get-me-the-heck-out-of-here. My family and I successfully make it outside with no serious injuries (Concussions don’t count as serious injuries). I look around. There is cheek kissing, blushing and collar popping going on everywhere. Girls with heels digging into the sand. Boys with hair spiked up to the stars with so much gel that some of this has dripped along the sides. It’s all a beautiful sight.
The Dias family makes a bee-line for the car, which is parked in front of a mosque. How’s that for the irony of religious tolerance in the Middle East! You can park safely in front of a mosque on Christmas Eve. But you best be wearing a helmet if you want to get into a church.