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Topic: The Importance of Being Earnest (not about the play) (08/04/11)
By Nancy Bucca
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Scritch, scritch. Scuffle, scuffle.
What was that strange sound?
He swung his foot over the side of the bed and stepped on something large and squirmy.
"Yaaah!" he cried.
"Help!" yelled the object. It was the voice of a complete wimp.
Unlike Jacob of old, John refused to tangle with the intruder. Instead he jumped up, ran to the door, and flicked on the light switch.
"Ow, my eyes!" cried a shabbily dressed figure huddled in a ball next to his bed. He hungrily eyed a plate of saltine crackers sitting on John's nightstand.
For some strange reason John felt like Jonah being swallowed by a whale.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded. "Tell the truth or I'll - I'll divide you like loaves and fishes."
"I think you're bluffing," said the burglar.
"Did frogs make Pharaoh jumpy?" quipped the burglar, rising like Lazarus from the tomb.
John frowned. "Be real with me, you would-be Moses, or I'll teach you to make bricks without straw."
"Well, which empty threat is it?" growled the burglar. "Loaves and fishes or a golden calf?"
"I'll have you know, my threats are far from idol - I mean idle," protested John, wishing for a little Elijah fire with which to nuke the guy.
The burglar, growing less wimpy by the moment, took a step toward the harried homeowner. "They are too idle, and totally lacking in zeal, you non-Elisha. You're such a loser when it comes to burning unequal yokes!"
Something told John his empty threats needed more spice. Running to the kitchen, he grabbed a familiar bottle, returned to the bedroom, and shook hot sauce all over the intruder's head.
"That's for raiding my ice cream!" he yelled as the burglar, shielding his head with his arms, cried for mercy.
"Don't you play deaf-and-dumb spirit with me," said John. "Lying trespasser! If you don't tell the truth, there will be hell to pay!"
"Hah! Simon the sorcerer is better at keeping promises than you are!"
"Is so, hypocrite. Wishy-washy Pharisee! Like the boisterous winds that buffeted Peter, you always change your mind."
"And you always treat my fire-and-brimstone warnings like a joke, you Lot's son-in-law!"
"How dare you call me a hee-haw?"
"Have donkey's jawbone, will swing it, oh ye Esau of the crocodile tears."
"Not if I can help it, ye Philistine-loving Samson, ye!" Raiding a bathroom cabinet, the burglar grabbed a pair of scissors and wildly snipped the air with them. "Now what do you have to say for yourself?"
The twin Delilah daggers cut John to the heart. He melted like a pool of alabaster perfume poured upon the Master's feet.
"Touché, oh Steve who isn't Eve, my once Jonathan-David friend. It is with great gravity I humbly confess that yes, I did in my heart lust after your Potiphar's wife. Though I never touched her, the thought itself was a sin deserving brimstone and hot coals. Like Job I do figuratively repent in sackcloth and ashes."
Steve the burglar's pupils plumbed the depths of truth swimming in John's eyes. No laughter in those Isaac's wells, more solemn than Solomon.
He tore his dirty shirt and wept. "Your phantom mourning duds have moved me, oh ye ignoble Abimelech. And may God also forgive this Abraham for plotting your demise. You see, the reason I did break in here was to murder you (supposing your designs on my Sarah to be more than benign)."
"But I told you long ago nothing happened between me and her."
"And I thought you were joking. But now, seeing as you really do mean what you said, I too repent and pray God for forgiveness."
"Like Queen Candace's eunuch, I am forever grateful for Christ's mercy, you kidder, you."
"And like the thief on the cross, I fervently concur - even though I wasn't teasing."
"Oh yes, you were," said John, picking up a cracker.
"I wouldn't eat that if I were you," said Steve.
"Sure you would, you prankster," said John. He took a bite and chewed. "I mean, it's not as if you poisoned them."
Too late Steve saw the value of always being earnest.
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