Missionary Positions

It was a day like all others. Only the spring was still springing. The doorbell rang. I answered it. Before me stood a man and a woman in their early twenties. They were dressed in dark blue suits and had big smiles on their faces.

“We have good news for you, brother,” the young man said.

“Yes, good news,” the young woman repeated.

“Good news?” I asked. Then said, “You mean that the world isn’t going to hell in a hand basket?”

“‘Tis true,” the young man said. “It is that. But Sister Naomi Musette and I have good news.”

“Yes,” Sister Naomi Musette said, “Brother Obadiah and I are here to show you a better path.” Her smile looked all shiny and new.

“A righteous way to not fall into darkness,” Brother Obadiah said. “A way to light a candle and see your way forward amidst all the world’s troubles.”

“Did he say amidst?” I asked myself.

“He did,” the little devil sitting on my right shoulder whispered in my ear. “Tell them to go to hell before you get caught up in the foolishness they’re offering you.”

The angel on my left shoulder said, “Now, hold on. Don’t do that. It won’t hurt to invite them in and feed them some of your homemade chocolate chip cookies and give them a glass of milk.

“Don’t listen to her,” Devil said.

But I did listen to her. I hadn’t had a chance to test my new cookie recipe out on some victims. I mean, guests. They tasted wonderful to me but what did I know. I could neither taste nor smell the darn things. That’s what happens when my allergies take over and I am sneezing my way from here to Loch Lomond and back again. After downing several pills of medication, I finally got the allergies under control. But I still couldn’t smell and taste worth a darn.

“Would you care to come in?” I offered. “I have a new batch of chocolate chip cookies and some milk if you would like.”

“Of course,” Brother Obadiah said. “We’d love to come in.”

“Chocolate chips are my favorite cookies,” the good sister said.

“I did not know that, Sister Naomi Musette,” the good brother said.

“‘Tis true, Brother Obadiah,” Sister Naomi Musette said. “I haven’t found a chocolate chip cookie I could resist. And I am sure that this brother’s are wonderful.” I had never seen such enthusiasm for chocolate chip cookies. And her enthusiasm was the bubbling over kind.

They came into my house and I introduced them to the sofa. It fit the two of them perfectly. I then retreated into my kitchen and soon returned with a plate of chocolate chips and two glasses of milk.

“Help yourself,” I said as I set the cookies and milk on the coffee table before them. Then I eased into my big chair and relaxed. I was ready to give these good people a bit of my time.

While his companion ate a cookie, Brother Obadiah said, “Brother, we are two missionaries on a mission from on-high. The angels have sent us forth into the world to deliver a message of good news. To all willing to clean the wax out of their ears and listen. Are you willing?” The good brother was not susceptible to the charm of a cookie. He did not take a cookie.

“I am. I haven’t had a good wax cleaning in a month of Sundays,” I said, leaning forward to hear their message. Anything to get out of the way of the avalanche of bad news that had lately come our way. There were earthquakes and tornadoes, plagues and contagious viruses, wars and rumors of wars. And if that wasn’t enough, just the day before, two polar bears had walked down Main Street, trying to hide from the global warming that had been stalking them for days. Any good news was welcome.

Sister Naomi Musette had eaten two cookies by the time I had gotten through with the last paragraph. She finished off her milk, then wiped cookie dust off her mouth. “Mmmm good,” she gave my cookies her imprimatur. Then she asked, “Do you know Jesus?”

“I haven’t met Him personally,” I said, “but I do know who He is in a general sort of way.”

“Well, all you’ve heard,” Brother Obadiah said, “is incorrect. We are here to give you the Real Deal.”

Sister Naomi Musette continued, “Jesus didn’t walk on water.”

“I did not know that,” I said, amazed.

“‘Tis true,” the good sister said. “He waded through the water.”

“You don’t say,” I said, amazed some more.

“Yes,” the good brother said. “We do say. What’s more He did this because He wore platform boots. When He saw Simon Peter throwing his net out into the water to catch some fish, the Master said to Peter, ‘Follow me, and I will give you platform boots.’ Well, Peter being Peter, he couldn’t resist. Anything to get out of the flip flops his wife insisted he wear.”

That was my cue to check out their feet. Both missionaries wore platform boots. When I first saw them at the door, I thought they were a bit tall for their ages. But they being so friendly and smiling and all, it had slipped my mind.

He pulled a large book out of his shoulder bag and opened it to the first page and read:

“In the beginning was God. And God went around naked until one Tuesday in May He realized He had not a stitch of clothes on. Then He reached down to the fig tree and pulled a fig leaf off that tree to cover His nakedness. At least the genital part of His nakedness. Then He made Hisself a business suit to wear over His fig leaf. It was blue to match the Lord God’s blue eyes. Navy blue.

“Then He made Hisself a pair of blue jeans and a pearly white t-shirt for the one day a week He is off for some well-deserved R and R from all the work. That t-shirt, being a holy t-shirt, had writ in bright blue letters on it the words,, ‘Go Cowboys.’ After all, despite what ESPN says, the Cowboys are God’s team.

“Then He made Hisself a pair of platform boots. Two He made. One for the right foot, one for the left foot. And He saw that it was good. They fit His size 16 feet oh-so comfortably. And everything and every being around the Lord God was happy because He now had a pair of platform boots to let him step over all the manure His creatures shat. God was pleased. Very pleased and He pronounced it all, ‘Good.'”

“That is unbelievable,” I said, not believing a word of what the missionary was reading.

He closed the book. “Have a look for yourself,” B.O. said. S. N. M. passed the black book over to me. Embossed in gold letters on its cover were the words, “Catalogue of Ye Platform Boots.” I opened it up and truly there were the words the good brother had read.

“How come I never heard of this before?” I asked.

“The One True Prophet Barnum of the Circus only revealed it to his people some fifteen minutes ago.” the good sister said. “It’s only been fourteen minutes since he incorporated the Church of Jesus In Platform Boots in the State of Florida. And a little over twelve since the Church was given its 501c tax status by the IRS. So you can see how legitimate we are. We are no fly-by-night scam religion. We are truly a true religion.”

“I can see that,” I said. “What must I do?”

“Our Congregation,” Brother Obadiah said, big smile on his face, “the First Church of the Church of Jesus In Platform Boots, meets at the corner of Nowhere Street and None-of-your-business Avenue for services every Sunday at ten in the morning. Come and ye too will be given your own pair of platform boots.”

“And,” the good sister followed up with, “they are very fashionable. I just love mine so much I am getting a second pair. All I have to do is convert ten people to the faith and that second pair is mine. It’s called the Second Pair Quota and all the members of the Congregation are vying for it. But I will be the first. I already have fitted nine Suckers for their boots.”*

Suckers?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” Brother Obadiah said. “That is what the Holy Book calleth newbies who join The Church. As the One True Prophet Barnum stated in his Sermon in the Big Tent, ‘There’s a Sucker born every minute. All we have to do is go out and reel them in.’ Such wisdom from the One True Prophet.”

“Hallelujah, Brother,” Sister Naomi Musette shouted out right there in my living room. At first, I thought she was speaking in them tongues, but then she continued in good ol’ American chicken-fried English, “You would be amazed at what it means to be a Sucker. It changed my life. Before Suckerdom, I was a down-in-the-mouth complainer, always saying f— this and s— that. Now that I have had my feet fitted and slipped on my pair of boots I am hallelujahing all the time. It’s enough to give a horny person an orgasm.” Her enthusiasm made me think she was about to have an orgasm right there in my living room. Now, I am not opposed to orgasms as long as I am a participant. Since I wasn’t participating, she was getting downright embarrassing.

“Preach on, Sister,” Brother Obadiah shouted. “Preach on.” The shouting was getting so loud that I was wondering if the neighbors would call the cops.

To calm the two down, I asked, “So you want me to come to church with you?”

The two nodded their heads yes. Then Brother Obadiah said, “Will you commit to just one service? You will not regret it.”

The good sister looked at my feet and sized them up. “I can see you are a size twelve. Brother Obadiah, we have never had a size twelve.” Then to me again, “The angels shall shod your boots, then you too can sing ‘These boots are made for walking.'” She was giddy with her enthusiasm.

“Now, Sister,” he said. “Let’s not get carried away. The brother has not even agreed to attend.”

She pressed hard. “You will attend?” She held her breath, afraid that I was about to say no.

Devil and Angel were back. It was feeling kind of heavy what with three heads on my shoulders. Ms. Angel said, “Please don’t do what you’re thinking. It’s not nice.”

And I’m thinking, “Since when was I nice.”

Mr. Devil had the biggest smile on his face. “Go ahead. Do it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.”

So I said, “Yes, I will come to your church. On one condition.”

“Of course,” the good sister agreed without taking a moment to consider the proposition. “As the Holy Book of the ‘Catalogue of Ye Platform Boots’ says, ‘Ask and it shall be given unto you.'”

“If I come to your church,” I said, “you have to attend one service of my church. Will you agree to that?”

“Absolutely,” the two said in unison, assured in their faith that one of their services would be all it took to make a Sucker out of me. After all, wasn’t it a very holy woman who once said, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

“We would be more than happy to attend your service after you attend ours. Like the Book says, ‘A deal is a deal.'” The good brother put out his hand to shake mine to cement the agreement.

Then Sister Naomi Musetter asked the sixty-four thousand dollar question. “When, and where, is your service?”

“You know where the KMA Park is?” I asked, smiling and thinking about the gotcha that was fixing to come to pass.

“Sure do,” Brother Obadiah said. “Before I converted and repented, I spent many an hour there, giving the passers-by the old moon pie.”

“My church meets there on the night of the full moon at midnight,” I said.” You promise to be there? Oh, and one other thing.”

The good sister was turning from her nice tan to a pale white. It looked like she didn’t want to know but the good brother plunged ahead, enthusiastically asking, “What’s that?”

“You’ll need to bring a live chicken for the sacrifice. And, bring something to throw over your clothes. The chickens always shoot blood all over our clothes when we do a beheading.”

The two missionaries jumped up and ran out the front door. And they didn’t even say goodbye.

That was right down rude of them.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: A Hallelujah from Lyle Lovett

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Lyle Lovett’s “Church”:

I’ve wanted to post a piece of music from the great Lyle Lovett for some time. It’s been hard to choose just which. There’s any number of songs I could have posted. “Don’t Touch My Hat,” That’s Right You’re Not From Texasand “She’s No Lady” are a heck of a lot of fun. “She’s Hot to Go” swings. “Step Inside This House” is a bit of country with its taste of sadness and loneliness. But “Church” has won out.

Lyle Lovett burst upon the musical scene in the mid-eighties. When I first saw him on this or that tv show, I knew he was the genuine article. A great singer with a great sound with great songs. On top of it all, he was backed up by his Large Band.

When you search for his name on the Google, the Wiki proclaims him a country singer-songwriter. But like so many Texas musicians, he is larger than that. He does country, for sure. But he’s swing, gospel, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, depending on what he’s singing. And sometimes a stew of all of those traditions thrown in together for some good eatin’.

By the fact he’s from Texas. You’d know that just by seeing that he does his own “That’s Right You’re Not From Texas.” Like many Texas artists, he’s hard to peg down. Willie (that’s Willie Nelson) could easily be classified as a jazz singer. Townes Van Zant sang the blues like nobody. ‘Course he was a man who had lived those blues. Steve Earle is as much a folk singer as he is country. And where do you classify a song like Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”?

And just for kicks, throw in Buddy Holly, Z Z Top, Norah Jones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Dixie Chicks, Ornette Coleman, Erykah Badu, Gene Autry, Johnny Mathis, Janis Joplin, Barry White, Van Cliburn and the Winters Brothers, Johnny and Edgar. And never ever forget that Bob Wills is the daddy of them all. As you can see, Lyle Lovett fits right in.

“Church” takes me back to the time before the mega-churches starting mega-ing all over the  place. Before Tammy and Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart showed us how much Elmer Gantry there still was in American Christianity. It takes me back to the time to Sunday-go-to-meeting-and-dinner-on-the-ground time when “just folks” gathered for a mighty good time on the Sabbath. I could wax nostalgia-like here but I’d be a bore. So enjoy the song and maybe it will take you back too.

And just in case you haven’t got enough of Lyle, here’s another one:

haiku for the day: faith

I call this one “faith” for lack of a better title. It did seem to fit. In church, I often sit in my pew and wonder about the others around me. One thing I am sure of is that there are as many reasons to be there as there are people. Some I am sure are there out of habit. Others think that it is the thing to do. Some are there in hope that there’ll be hope given to them. Some are confessing, some are praising. Some are grateful. Some are downright worried and this is the only way to have some comfort. Each of us have our particular reason. The important thing is that we are there and that may very well make all the difference.

wrinkled hands clasping
knees bent low upon a pew
lips sharing secrets