Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: LOVE (agape and/or phileo) (03/12/15)
TITLE: Popcorn Love
By Timothy Lollis
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But that sad day was five years into the future. Today the three of us are happy, and we laugh. We talk about girls. We tease each other. We share everything, which today is popcorn and soda, because we are in line to witness the biggest event of 1984: The Terminator Movie.
“If you don’t know what you want, I need for you to step aside”. Brett, our frustrated concession attendant’s character mimicked a training video on how to deal with indecisive customers. He seemed older, but the crack in his voice betrayed his authoritative tone. Brett was one us, a teenager.
A dull embarrassment came over me, from the steady eyes of those in the snaking line behind us. I sympathized with their frustration, but our dilemma outweighed my compassion. No matter how we moved our money around on the counter, the numbers did not lie: we only had enough money for either popcorn or soda, but not both.
Our manners finally came alive, and we invited the gentleman behind us to move ahead and order. The man sported a permanent smile on his plump face, which made me instantly skeptical of him. No one is that happy. Years later that thought would come back to me. With both hands in his khaki pants, he ordered a massive tub of popcorn, a huge soda, and candy to boot. I thought, “Mr. Khaki pants is a show off.”
What happened next was surprising and saintly. Khaki pants turned around from the counter. His silo of popcorn was head locked in one arm, and he reached towards us with his free hand. His unending smile still on display, he said “Here you go fellows, this is from God, and He loves you”. We dropped our heads in seemingly choreographed timing to examine what he was handing us. It was a crisp $10 bill.
We were overjoyed, and consumed popcorn and soda in excess. But upon reflection I found the money easy to spend, but hard to accept. See Mr. Khaki pants was a white man, and we were black boys. The words seldom drifted outside the family circle, but I was taught that white people were never generous to black people; never. Any benevolence offered was either fake, or done out of guilt.
But the gift from the man at the movies planted a seed of love. Like a flaming boomerang, it was an act of kindness which cut through the family falsehoods instilled in me from birth. It severed through lingering racial hostilities of the 1980’s. It slashed through riots and burning cities. And even further, through tearful wives of assassinated presidents and civil rights leaders. And even more, through wars which divided brother against brother, and still through a dreadful slave trade which left behind a nation with an amputated soul. And then it came back to me.
The seed grew. It took me on a journey which landed me at a final destination. The place where all love begins and ends, with the Lord God. As a man I have used that love to overcome many of the ailments which plague men. Judgment, arrogance, and skepticism are a few. That love allowed me to escape the world that killed my friend, and given a foothold, would have destroyed me. Not long ago, I was in a line at McDonalds. A young boy in front of me was studying both the menu board and the money in his hands. I thought about the movie theater thirty years earlier. And likewise, I planted a seed of love. Now I am the man with the permanent smile. And I have come to discover what Mr. Khaki pants knew all along; with the love of Christ a person really can be that happy.
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