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Perspective: A Christmas Story

Posted in Adventures With Humans

Recently, I was to attend a Christmas choir concert in town here. Minutes before its start, I pulled up in front of where I thought I should be, but the vast choice of available parking spaces clued me to the fact that I was at the wrong church.


I find myself spending much of my time trying to figure out how everything works on this planet. I lose hours parsing the secrets of the universe, karma, ancestral shortcomings, and especially, Zumba. I'm curious as hell, and hopeful that it's not simply chaos...and fucking Zumba. That would be the worst.  For example:

Recently, I was to attend a Christmas choir concert in town here. Minutes before its start, I pulled up in front of where I thought I should be, but the vast choice of available parking spaces clued me to the fact that I was at the wrong church.

Remember, small towns have their guilt covered. This town has four churches, plus the Quaker Meeting House, for all of your sin and redemption needs. I knew better than to waste time guessing and risk being abominably late and damned to hell–more than I am already. I flagged down a friend. We made quick jokes about how glad I was that this wasn't my wedding, or my funeral that I was going to be late for, and he told me where the right church was.

I got the better address, drove there, found parking a block away. I quick-stepped it to the main road and walked across towards the church. As I stepped up onto the sidewalk, I found myself walking in sync with an elderly lady bent over her walker, heading for the same event at a glacial, uncertain pace. I noticed her husband (could have been just a strange man, but my gut told me, husband) standing beside his car, watching her with a worried look on his face. The lot he was in, closest unloading zone to the church, was full, so he was charged with finding a space elsewhere while his wife, freshly egressed, was left to fend for herself on these mean, guilt-laden streets.

I made eye contact with him to let him know that I would accompany her and not to worry. I leaned down and asked my new friend if I could help her into the church.

"Well, that would be very kind of you," she said, looking up briefly with red-rimmed eyes. "I don't know how I'm going to get up those steps."

She was lovely. I assessed the layout and let her know that there was a side door and probably an elevator, so not to worry about the steps. We took our time, she and I. I could tell that she hated this. She didn't want to be late, or a bother. She just wanted to hear the damn music. Either that or she had money on the soloist inhaling a fly before the half. It was not my place to pry.

We persevered to the side door. I opened it, then reached down and lifted her front wheels over the door sill, and we were in; basking in the glory of the church lift. 

Oh it was such a wonderful shade of–grey! 

I wasn't sure how to make it go, so a friend came down the steps and fiddled with the controls. There was no manual. You'd think there would be a handy Book of Elevations, because that would be some welcomed holy hilarity, right? 

It took us a while, but finally the door opened and my new friend walked in, fully trusting us, complete strangers, like a lamb to, well, that thing.  I stepped in to ride up with her because she seemed frail, but her husband arrived right on cue. I flourished him ahead in my place, and stood down. The door closed slowly to allow for any stowing problems, and also, you could have a quick nap before the ride. Also, a good idea to eat before you load in. Get the picture? Slow door! 

At the same time as my pals launched, the choir members began coming up the stairs from the basement in a fierce, tight line. They were dressed in black. They had folders, a mission, and reeked of scales and harmony. I tried to step into a gap and sneak up the stairs but I almost lost a leg. I looked past them to the top of the stairs, keen for news of my new friend's safe arrival, and then resigned myself to wait. As I stood there, one of the choir members glared at me with a robust dollop of disgust – me in my red jacket, hanging out by the church elevator, you know, in that wayas if I was one of those lift lizards, wasting time, ridin' for free on The Saviour's dime. Every town's got one. 

"Why don't you just walk up?" she said, in an accusatory tenor voice.

I was so surprised that I think I snorted, or choked, or both. 

"Why don't I just walk up?" I immediately tried to explain that I had met a complete stranger on the sidewalk and had just helped her into the lift, you know, like Jesus would have done, –and then I heard a harsh, matronly SHUSH.

Not only had I been unjustly judged, I had been SHUSHED as well! 

WHAT'S A GIRL GOTTA DO TO KEEP HER REPUTATION IN THIS TOWN? 

I stood back, and if I had been wearing hockey gloves, I would have dropped them and then shirted my accuser. AND the SHUSHER! We would have had ourselves a Christmas Donnybrook in B Major with Accompaniment!

"I give up. I'm going home," I threatened. 

Why don't I walk up?

SHUSH?

My thoughts at that moment were less than jolly. It's frustrating being misjudged and then denied your efforts in defence to, you know, set the record straight. I settled down, pouted in my pew, and read the messages on the stained glass windows that reminded me that I was a sinner, but that I could be delivered from evil, or probably to evil if I rode the fucking lift down.

The concert went on. I sat quietly and without fuss, but all the while I kept trying to figure out what had happened. It started with the wrong church, but the timing was perfect for me to discover my focused friend embarking on her own. Nobody else had come along. If I had not arrived when I did, she may have attempted the stairs and that could have ended badly. 

So? Was it the universe? 

Was it karma? 

Of course, I could be missing the lesson completely. Perhaps it was my goofy great uncle Ephraim arranging for my new friend to get me to slow down enough so that I could learn how to throw a punch in a tight space and still get to my pew looking freshly pressed. Never happened, but it could have. 

I don't know what it was. At least it wasn't Zumba, and for that I am grateful.

Merry Christmas everyone!

-Suzanne Crone

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