Jesus Is My Co-pilot
By Web Ruble
Web writes: "A secure, but emotionally mediocre childhood may have prompted my conversion."
There she was. Trudging on up Dromedary Hill. She well filled a pair of light blue pedal pushers. Attractive ankles sported white bobby socks encased in white-and-blue tennis shoes.
She had curves in the right places. Swirling auburn hair fringed her doll face. She was surrounded by a few girls, but lots of boys -- immensely popular -- the darling of her church's youth group. Oh my.
When she was "on," in a manner of speaking -- trying to make a public impression -- she usually said the right thing at the right time. She attracted older boys like spilled syrup draws yellow jackets in the heat of summer. Moreover, her female friends liked her comments - it was politically astute of them to say so. Parents thought she was cute. Well, she was -- in a forever-teen, late-1940s sort of way.
My mother who patronized her mother's book stall, once in a while would urge me, Oscar Ostronowicz - "There's one for you. Annabelle's as cute as she can be." In other words, get off your dime and go for her!
Hah. Oh yeah. First chance I get.
Was mom kiddin'? Couldn't she see the spread of social dynamics?
Not only was Annabelle slightly older, but light years ahead of me in maturity in every department.
Skinny, knock-kneed in baggy pants, sensitive looking, and stumbling along on narrow, flat-like feet, I was a 14-year-old gust of wimp dust, blown in from Laugh City. No doubt I was somebody whom peers couldn't resist pushing aide and deriding.
That bothered me a little, but I had no designs, dreams, or likes for Annabelle. I didn't like being around her. She had a 'tude, "I am so attractive, I can speak my mind and don't have to be kind, nice or diplomatic." She could be -- and occasionally was -- extremely nasty to me.
After all, I was from the other side of the hill (perhaps a lower middle class home). Annabelle was from relative poverty flats. When she would strut her stuff, she'd "put down" admirers from my side of the hump. She did it with self-righteous glee. Some might even call it reverse discrimination.
I accepted and, yes, even expected, it. 'Twas okay. No biggie. What the heck. It fit the pattern.
But what was keel-hauling me that particular day was her comment to her entourage, a brazen insult: "Tell your comic, wimpy friend to go fly!"
Well, I guess I was sort of asking for it. I was with them . . . sort of. After the church Saturday afternoon youth meeting, we all adjourned to Riberg's store for ice cream down on Strozyck Boulevard. I exited the store with them, and was walking parallel to, but slightly detached from, Annabelle's entourage as we all hoofed it up Dromedary Hill.
About three-quarters of the way up the hill, a terraced domestic yard met the street at about the same elevation, and I peeled off from the group. I started to walk across the lawn for home a block or two away, but stopped to look back at the group.
"That's the ol' Christian spirit and attitude," I said quietly to myself. "That'll win friends and influence people." The trouble is, in that town (and that society), it probably would.
Like the movie, "Mean Girls," the local social structure seemed to glorify the young person who could "put down" (verbally) the immature and temporarily, at least, incapable -- "Whazza matter, haven't you got 'IT'? Hah hah."
Moreover, I didn't want to hear anything from mom about the church group, the walk home, or the whole shebang. I just wanted to go home and shutter myself in the basement.
I was thus musing when a booming voice from the house dweller who owned the lot I was trodding, yelled, "You big oaf, get offa there, or I'll %^&* your $%^&*(posterior)."
That added nearly fatal insult to the emotional social setback from which I was still staggering.
Big oaf? Me? Boy, was he blind.
Kick my posterior? Huh? He might be surprised if he tried it.
However, I WAS trespassing. So I left. Straight away.
When I got home, I was darn angry at the whole happenin'; ignored mom and dad, and retreated into myself. Angrily.
- - - -
Fast forward some 54 years.
I was back in town for my high school class' 50th anniversary reunion. I hadn't seen home town folk for a long, long time. True I was a little apprehensive, but didn't know why.
We were all old and health-wise sort of falling apart. Many had died including Annabelle, years earlier. And the man who had called me "big oaf," in the intervening years had become one of my favorite persons, even though I never knew him well. He had been a commercial fisherman, and one April in Bristol Bay waters got his leg caught in the anchor chain. I never learned the details. But he ended up having his leg amputated. Terrible.
Having aged a little better than a lot of my peers, I was among the better preserved at the reunion.
I was able to enjoy myself as I meandered across the room visiting . You see, God was protecting and rewarding me. I had become a Christian, and most of my peers were still stuck on "self."
It was comforting to know that God loves me, despite the alleged wimp that "the cool" judged me to be oh so many years ago.
(© 2012 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)