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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: White (10/29/09)

By Paul Potenza



For years I wanted to be the troublemaker in the black hat. You know what I'm talking about. Think Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider. The lone gunslinger turned preacher. Misunderstood. A loner who played by his own rules. Scorned by society yet looked up to because of his renegade style. I was good at it too. I perfected the chin stubble look with the rippling jaw muscles, cigarette dangling from my dry lips, ready to take on the establishment and really "sock it to" the man. This in itself was pretty funny because the only real trouble that I had experienced up to that time was getting a "C" in algebra at Saint Rose of Lima Parochial Grade School. I was a child of the Sixties living in middle class suburbia. The cigarette was a candy one which only got it's full effect when it was cold outside so that when I exhaled, the condensation of warm breath meeting cold air would cause a white cloud to come out of my mouth like a lung full of smoke. I would often stay out so long that my dry lips would turn blue, but such is the price of maintaining an image. The chin stubble was partly my own, being an early bloomer in the facial hair department, but I enhanced it (this is SO embarrassing to admit) by borrowing my mother's Maybelline brand eyelash liner in order to get that definition so important to proper prepubescent whiskers.

Anyway, I got really good at being the guy in black. My wardrobe consisted of tight black jeans, black boots and a black T-shirt with my candy cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve. I swear, if I could have found candy cigarettes that came in a black package I would have bought a gross of them. I also had a black leather jacket to top off the ensemble. People were always asking me if I had just come from a funeral.

Time went on and I kept up the image. By now I was getting into serious trouble. Fake cigarettes turned into the real thing. Made up exploits gave way to real altercations. A "C" in algebra was nothing compared to my first real lock-up. I could go on but I think you get the idea. Over the years the Lord granted me the mercy of helping me out of the many scrapes I managed to get myself into.

A few weeks ago I was doing a Bible study and I kept seeing the many references to white. When Jesus was transformed on the mountain his clothes were whiter than anyone could bleach them. The angels who stood in Jesus' tomb were arrayed in white garments. In Revelations the multitude was dressed in white. "Though your sins be scarlet they shall be washed whiter than snow."

I think God likes White. It's the color of light and goodness and mercy. You can see in the light.

I put my Bible down and went into my closet. I plucked out my old black hat and dropped it into the trash can.

"A man who walks in the darkness will stumble."

Funny thing. When I finally grew my beard out, it was black with two long streaks of pure white on either side of my chin.

Thank you Father.

White On.

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This article has been read 363 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Stone11/05/09
I remember those candy cigarettes on a cold day. Good comparisons and a clear message, well done.
Philippa Geaney 11/06/09
I enjoyed your reflections. You wrote well.
Mildred Sheldon11/12/09
Candy cigarettes bought back so many memories. I loved your story. God has ways of changing us. Thank you.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/17/10
Excellent view of boyhood. But leave it to me to point out a something that needs fixing, (in my opinion only). The first paragraph is kinda, sorta, too long...needs to be cut down into smaller ones. From the picture I get from this story of your childhood - I KNOW now why you became a Marine! (*.*) !