Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

"You know that people will talk"--a story (i)

Garrett told me when this all started that we had caught the Pastor Neal in a lie. I said he just misspoke, and since when did he—Garrett—get all self-righteous about bending the truth? I’ve been married to him for more years than I care to admit. Not that it’s been all bad. Don’t get me wrong.

Besides, I’m not sure Pastor Neal is capable of lying. Sin?—yes, of course. But outright falsehood is the kind of transgression you expect of weasels and skunks and crop insurance peddlers. If Pastor Neal has a shady side, nobody at our church has seen it yet. Naïve?—okay, we’ll give you that, in spades, too. But if innocence is a sin, then why did Christ himself suffer the little children like he did? Answer me that.

My husband can’t quite get used to a preacher who insists on saving gas by riding this little motor scooter around town, a young man whose hair deliberately sticks up the way Pastor Neal’s does. “He greases it that way,” Garrett told me when Pastor Neal came here for an interview. “That’s the way he wants it to look, if you can believe it. It’s like he got out of bed wrong,” he said, pointing a piece of bacon at me.

“Like somebody else I know,” I told him because I didn’t like the way he was pointing that bacon.

Pastor Neal’s not an old-fashioned stem-winding pulpiteer, if you know what I mean. He hasn’t yet come out with “thus saith the Lord,” or at least he hasn’t in the ten months he’s been in our pulpit. What gets Garrett’s goat is that Pastor Neal is a preacher he’s got to love. Men want to respect preachers, not love ‘em, and our new preacher is a challenge for him, this under-shepherd on a motor scooter. But I told myself I could take him through it—me and the Lord—and I been married to Garrett for 55 years, come November.

The “lie” Garrett insisted on wasn’t even a fib. Pastor Neal just didn’t get the words right. He told us he was “seeing someone.” He was, in a matter of speaking. No, he was, period. He’s got a gizmo on his computer.

Of course, we didn’t know that right away, and it started a whole lot of talking, as you can imagine. Alice Evans is a nurse, pretty as a picture but kind of quiet. Some good money had her as the one he was seeing, but I figured we’d have all known since there aren’t many dark corners on land this flat and open. Somebody would have seen them, and you know people will talk.

Fran Gottlieb has been eligible for too many years already, we figured. Pastor Neal’s young enough to have been one of her students—well, I’m stretching things. Judy Smithson’s husband left her two years ago, but I don’t know if Pastor Neal is ready for an instant family—three kids. He’s got to get some miles on before he’s ready, we figure.

Teresa Van Stedum—now she’d be a catch, just about perfect for a preacher’s wife. But Teresa’s been nursing her own hurt for so long that we didn’t think she was up to it yet. But someday. Poor girl. That’s whole different story.

It was impossible for us to believe he was seeing someone we know—I mean, you can count the eligibles on one hand almost. By us, I mean my friends. I know you’re saying, “people talk,” and we do, but it’s out of concern. Mostly.

Tomorrow: The shocking discovery of Pastor Neil's new girlfriend.

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