My husband Sam and I hastened to take the two remaining seats in the adult Sunday school class. Pastor Joe opened his Bible and placed his study notes on the podium from which he taught.
Sam glanced around the room and leaned over to whisper to me. “Looks like Imogene isn’t going to come after all.”
I sighed. Part of me was disappointed, but a deeper part of me was relieved. The two emotions wrestled inside my heart.
“Let us pray,” Pastor Joe began. As he neared the end of the prayer, asking for open hearts and minds to the Lord’s message, a commotion from outside the door drew our attention.
Sam nudged me and mouthed the word, “Imogene.”
I shuddered. Imogene Dumple bustled into the room, her scrawny body draped in a long flowing caftan with a tiger print. Huge wooden bead earrings pulled her lobes toward her shoulders while an equally chunky necklace encircled her throat. Looking around the semi-circle of adults, she spied me.
“Well, I’m here, Amanda. Let’s get this show rolling,” she grumbled.
I rose to my feet, wishing I could sink into the floor instead and become one of the floral decorations in the carpet. “Imogene, I would like you to meet Pastor Joe, our . . . well, our pastor. Pastor Joe, this is Imogene Dumple, our next door neighbor.”
“Good to meet you, Miss Dumple.” Pastor smiled a welcome and held out his hand.
“That’s Ms. Dumple.” She gripped the proffered hand and shook it with zeal. I thought I saw Pastor Joe wince.
“Sam, would you bring a chair for Miss Dumple?” Pastor motioned toward the rack of folding chairs against the far wall.
“I can do it myself, thank you,” Imogene sniffed. She grabbed a chair and unfolded it directly behind and to the right of mine. “And that’s Ms., not Miss or Mrs.”
Pastor gulped, massaging his right hand as if in pain. “Everyone move your chairs so Ms. Dumple can join the group.”
“Never mind that. I’m just here to win a bet with Amanda,” Imogene said. Heads swivelled in my direction, eyes squinted in pre-judgment.
“I told her I’d give her ten dollars if she showed up,” I mumbled and sank lower into my seat. The rest of the class didn’t understand what it took to motivate a woman like Imogene Dumple.
Pastor Joe cleared his throat. “Yes, well, let’s get started. We can talk about evangelism methods later. Turn in your Bibles to Proverbs 31, which is where we left off last time. Oh, Ms. Dumple, do you need to borrow a Bible?”
“Naw, I’ll just look over Amanda’s shoulder.”
He read verse ten aloud and beamed at each of the married women. Imogene snorted at the words “For her worth is far above rubies.”
“Darn right, she’s a jewel! Working her tail off to please him! And for what?” The husbands in the class shifted positions in their chairs. While they coughed or cleared their throats, their wives became rather thoughtful.
Pastor Joe reddened but continued reading and commenting on the Scripture. He stared directly at Imogene when he got to verse sixteen and spoke of the business ventures of the virtuous wife.
“I sure hope she insisted upon a pre-nuptial agreement before they got married,” came Imogene’s retort.
Pastor Joe struggled onward despite the gasps of shock that came from the adults in the class with every irreverent comment Imogene made.
“She sews her clothing out of the finest cloth and helps to build a good reputation for her husband,” Pastor stammered, his eyes fixed on Imogene as if dreading her next reply.
“With all he makes her do, she should be the one with the good reputation. He can’t even spring for a store-bought wardrobe for her.”
I could feel Imogene’s hot breath on my shoulder as she read each verse for herself.
Pastor trembled when he read verse 27 as if anticipating a backlash.
And it came. “The woman never rests? After all that, she deserves a nice bubble bath, a box of chocolates, and an evening to indulge herself.”
Pastor Joe sighed, then attempted to finish Proverbs in one breath. But Imogene heard verse 28, and she couldn’t wait to have the final word.
She stood with one hand on her hip, and, shaking her finger at Pastor, said, “Children? Unless he takes part in the diapering and feeding, forget it!” She left, but not before she got her ten dollars from me.
Pastor Joe was attempting to teach from Proverbs 31:10-31 (NKJV), the description of the model wife and mother.
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