Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: White (10/29/09)
- TITLE: Them
By Marita Thelander
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“Oh, Phyllis, I ’m exhausted. Church honestly wears me out and today especially seemed to be bad.”
“Why would church wear you out? You sit the whole time.” Phyllis’ practical side annoyed Elaine.
“Well, I’m trying to tell you. Just listen, okay?” Elaine took a deep breath and dove in. “On the way in the door, Pastor was busy conversing with a young couple that have only attended for about a year. I’ve been a member of this church for fifty years and he didn’t even shake my hand today.”
“Oh, come now, Elaine,” Phyllis tried to reason with her.
Elaine didn’t skip a beat. “Oh, and the music…I swear, it gets louder every week and today my space got invaded. A new young family with four dirty-faced, grimy-fingered kids sat in my row. My row.”
“Your row?” Phyllis couldn’t believe her ears.
“Yes, my row, Phyllis. I couldn’t wait for pastor to dismiss the kids for children’s church. Of course when the varmints were released, they chose to climb over me instead of going the other direction. They rubbed their dirty hands over the back of the pew on their way out and left some sort of sticky substance right in front of me. Whatever the nasty stuff was, it’s all over my dress now.
Oh, and I was so relieved when the youth pastor set his guitar down and left the platform. The fact that he doesn’t wear a suit or a dress shirt and tie is a huge distraction. Today I think he had blue jeans on. I couldn’t quite tell. I stared at his pants the whole time he stood there trying to decide if they were denim or not. That’s just plain disrespectful in the House of God. My eyes hurt from the strain.”
“Were his clothes neat and clean?”
Elaine didn’t take the time to acknowledge Phyllis’ question. “After church, kids were all over the place. I about got knocked over on my way to the door. Pastor tried to reach out and shake my hand while others hovered around him like ants on a lollypop. I pretended not to notice. He had his chance.”
“That’s it. Stop right there, Elaine. I can’t believe what I’m hearing. You’ve become one of them.”
“One of who? And I don’t like the tone you’re taking with me, Phyllis.”
“One of them. Remember when we were young mothers and the white-haired saints were always looking down their noses at us? Our kids couldn’t do anything right, they didn’t like our shorter skirts, we wore too much make-up, and we enjoyed a few off the wall choruses mixed in with hymn book songs.”
Phyllis paused but Elaine didn’t say a word. “We swore we would never be like the white-hairs back then.”
Still silence on Elaine’s end. “Elaine, you’re my very best friend. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but please don’t become like them.”
“I’m going to take a nap,” Elaine abruptly ended the conversation.
All week Phyllis’ words gripped Elaine’s heart. By the time Sunday came, her attitude switched from defense to offense.
Elaine arrived at church a few minutes earlier than usual. “Good morning, Pastor.”
“Hello, Miss Elaine.” Pastor took her arm and walked her up the aisle to her usual seat. They enjoyed a nice chat before the rush of worshipers at the door required his attention.
The new young family found their way to her row and Elaine patted the messy-haired little heads and introduced herself to the parents. The youngest little girl scooched in real close and rested her head on Elaine’s soft arm. She dug in her purse for a wet wipe and gently cleaned the dry snot from the brown-eyed youngster.
Sharply dressed in black slacks, the youth pastor donned his guitar. Elaine stuffed yellow ear plugs in and discovered that it muted the volume quite nicely. When the kids were dismissed, she stood and moved out of the way.
After service, she waited until the crowd thinned to head out. The little brown-eyed girl skipped up the aisle and took her hand. Elaine’s heart melted. She choked back her tears when she passed two white-hairs with pinched, wrinkled faces gawking at the odd pair.
“Close your mouth, Ladies,” Elaine strutted by. “You’ll catch flies.”
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