Rupee was an ugly kid, not that it was his fault. He was supposed to be born twins, but something went wrong and only one baby arrived. What happened was out of anyone’s control. A lot of surgeries later Rupee, short for Rupert, had a better chance to live a life, but no one thought it would be a real full one.
You know what happens to ugly teenage kids. Rupee was disliked and scorned because of his looks, his drooling and shaking, and his total social imbalance. Rupee walked on the other side of the street. He couldn’t hang out with the guys and girls were totally out of the question. One day, though, a girl actually called and asked him out.
Rupee knew Donna well. She was kind , and often sat next to him on the school bus. Yes, he had a secret crush on her, so the call shook him. Rupee hardly talked during the one way conversation, but said “Yea, sure,” when she said she’d pick him up at 6 on Saturday night. He was so surprised he forgot to ask where they were going.
Donna was always friendly to Rupee, but he never mistook her attention for romantic love. He knew better, but he treasured every moment with her. He really didn’t care where they were going as long as they were together, and he was going on real date.
Saturday night Donna rolled up in her daddy’s Buick and beeped the horn. Rupee, was slicked down and polished from his hair to his new wingtip shoes. Perhaps he was wearing a bit too much Old Spice, as well. He kissed his mother, who squinted and wiped her nose after the kiss. He thanked his dad for the “man-to-man” talk, and ran out the front door toward the car.
Actually he stumbled out the door, tripped down three stairs, and fell in to the grassy front yard, landing between the little gnome statue and a pink flamingo. He picked himself up quickly, and continued his run. In the car Rupee picked blades of grass off his new sweater, and put them in the leather trash bag hanging from the car’s heater control button. Donna smiled, leaned over and kissed him the cheek, then started the engine. Rupee was too embarrassed to say anything more until they reached the church.
Church? Rupee had never been in one. His parents were kind agnostics that wanted Rupee to find his own way, and that way had never before led him to religion. Never-the-less, he was open to it.
Donna and Rupee arrived late, just as the preacher mounted the platform and began to talk at Rupee, kind of. The preacher railed against drugs and cigarettes. Rupee hated needles and smoke.
The preacher pounded his fist on the podium and ranted against blasphemers who only thought of themselves. Rupee knew some swear words, but only spoke them privately, and he once gave all the money in his piggy bank to some poor kids in India during a TV telethon. The preacher also pleaded with Rupee to give up the “lust” of this world, which caused him to flush with embarrassment and scoot a little father away from Donna.
It was the story of Jesus that made Rupee choke back tears, however. To think the Son of God would die on a cross for ugly, unlovable, Rupee. It made his heart ache.
Then the preacher called for everyone to stand, and sinners meet this Jesus. Many teenagers pushed by Rupee to get to the isles and down to the altar. Rupee, however, held fast to the back of the pew in front of him. He held so tight to the pew that his knuckles turned white, and he began to shake. The preacher called for sinners one last time, and then Rupee lost control.
Actually it was Donna that caused it. Seeing Rupee’s distress she tried to put her arm around his shoulders, which caused Rupee to pull away, but too hard. He fell in to the isle and was quickly led to the altar by an attentive usher.
As he told his parents later, it was the strangest thing. Suddenly he felt loved and accepted. He begged his parents to take him back to church on Sunday. They did, and that’s when ugly Rupee began to live the full life no one thought he would ever possess.
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