Learning from experience

When I walked in the kitchen, the boy was breathing like he was practicing for a Lamaze class in a 1980s sitcom.

“What’s wrong with him?” I asked my wife.

“I tried to warn him,” she said, shaking her head. “But he had to try it.”

“Ice,” gasped the boy. “I need ice.”

Then I saw the problem. We grew habanero peppers this summer. My wife was using one in the dinner she was making. They boy wanted to try a bite. This is the same boy who thinks pickled jalapeño peppers are devilishly hot. Despite my wife’s warning he took a bite.

“No,” I said, “you don’t want ice.”

I was too late. He was already putting the ice cube in his mouth. It provided a moment of relief, then the burn came back stronger.

“You want milk,” I said. “Water and ice will only make it worse.”

Unfortunately, we were out of milk, so the boy poured himself a glass of half and half. Half and half is great in coffee, but when you’re used to two percent milk, it’s a bit thick when you drink it straight. The boy took a drink and made a terrible face. At least the burn was fading.

I'm not sure why we don’t listen to our parents. When I was 16, and had just earned my driver’s license, my parents told me to drive straight to school and straight home. In theory, this was fine. Then came reality.

Reality came in the form of a phone call from Jennifer. Jennifer was one of the most popular girls in my class. I was not one of the most popular boys. “It’s too cold to walk to school,” she said. “Can you pick me up in the morning?”

Forget theory. I went with reality. I was going to give Jennifer a ride to school. Everyone would see her get out of my 1975 Chevy four-wheel-drive pickup truck. Life was getting good.

“Sure, I guess,” I said, trying to sound cool.

The next morning I pulled into Jennifer's driveway, and she jumped into my truck. “Thanks so much,” she said.

I was so excited that I did not notice that her driveway was a sheet of ice. Four-wheel drive will help you go on ice. It will not help you stop. I started backing down the steep incline of the driveway. When I put my foot on the brake, the truck actually sped up. I knew this was bad. The brake is supposed to make you slow down. The truck abruptly stopped sliding with the crunch of my rear bumper against the car parked on the opposite side of the street. I wished I had listened to my parents.

The results of not listening to my parents were not catastrophic. Nothing was hurt except my ego. The results of the boy not listening to my wife were not too bad either. Perhaps it will teach him that we really do know what we are talking about.

RJ Johnson

I have been a priest for 16 years.  I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010.  If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.

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Volume 8, Issue 19, Posted 8:58 AM, 10.04.2016