The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly have an agreement as ironclad as any legal document in the world court. Simply put, the contract is as follows: I will eat broccoli when she eats liver. I'm on pretty good ground here because I know she abhors liver and will not allow me bringing it into our domicile in any form.
In fact, if I consume any liver I'm sometimes not allowed home until it has completely gone through my system, which can take up to three days depending on my physical condition at the time.
With this in mind, I had a vicious attack of liveritis last week and needed a fix of nicely fried chicken livers. Whenever such a malady assaults me, there is only one thing for me to do, and I know what it is.
I head for the Slurp ‘N Burp Café. Nobody puts together a mess of chicken livers as tender and juicy as the Slurp ‘N Burp. Whenever I can escape the Misses' notice, I slip away and enjoy a plate of these delightful delicacies that just melt in my mouth.
Last Thursday I set out to gratify my craving when an incredible thing happened.
About halfway through a plate of the most delicious chicken livers this side of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, a man walked into the restaurant.
I simply could not believe my eyes. He was the spitting image of a friend of mine. The trouble was, my friend died a little over a year ago and this man could have passed for his twin.
Someone said everyone has a double somewhere and I was a believer; at least in this case.
As this man walked by, I nodded and he touched his finger to his hat — the same way my friend use to. It was one of those uncanny moments you never forget. A rush of memories flooded my mind as I thought of my old friend. He was the original Florida Cracker if there ever was one.
His family moved to Miami in 1920 when he was six years old. It was a different Florida in those days, as he often reminded me.
He was an outdoorsman to the end. As a young lad, he and his family would camp in the wild Florida swamps and live off the land. Not like people do today in luxurious RVs, with all the latest conveniences; hot showers, color TV and a fully stocked kitchen.
No siree. My friend lived off the land. They ate what they caught with the rod or shot with the gun, cooking it over an open campfire, "The way the Good Lord fully intended," he would say as he remembered those days.
In the trunk of his car, he always had his fishing gear for, "Ya never know when the urge to go fishin' will come on and it's always best to be prepared." He was a Boy Scout and as such was fully prepared for any eventuality.
He once told me he had eaten about every kind of bird there was in the state of Florida. Then with a twinkle in his eye he would say, "Course, some you needed ‘bout a dozen or so to make a good sandwich."
He frequently came to my church study, and when he should have been mowing the lawn and I should have been busy with church work, he regaled me with enchanting stories of those early days in Florida.
It wasn't long before I could repeat his stories, as well as he. Toward the end, he would confuse the stories and mix them up somewhat, but I never corrected him. I was tempted, but they were his stories and I figure a man should have liberty in telling his stories any way he pleases.
We would be talking in my office and the telephone would ring. We would look at the ringing telephone and he would laugh. "Bet I know who's callin'."
He was always right. It was his wife, wondering where her husband was, who should've been home an hour ago.
During my interview at my present church, he was on the examining board. All through the interview, he sat there just looking me over, not saying a word. Finally, at the end he spoke up.
"All I want to know is, Pastor, when was the last time you went fishin'?"
At the time, I did not know what he meant and mumbled something to the effect that I was too busy for such nonsense. He just smiled. A smile I was to come to know and appreciate.
He had a way of saying something to you without ruffling your feathers, but more important, he knew when he had said enough.
Years later I know exactly what he meant.
I'm reminded of a saying of another friend of mine, "Either come apart and rest awhile, or you'll simply come apart."
During these busy days, it is easy to forget how important it is to slow down and take everything in stride. It's the same old story; so much to do and so little time.
The Bible states this truth in a wonderful way. "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Hebrews 4:9-11 KJV.)
If it is true that everyone has a double, I fully expect to meet me coming around a corner, somewhere.