Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Hand in Glove

Amy has often said during our 15 years together, "You have the weirdest friends." It's a difficult point to argue on its merits, but I'm still usually able to muster some catty retort, such as, "Present company included."

What she really means is that, for whatever reason, I'm a nutcase magnet. (See my previous column for incontrovertible evidence.) Society's slag sidles up to me with frequency and abandon. Quite honestly, it's a badge I wear with honor, though it's nothing to brag about, for it's not intentional. Probably more like a genetic defect that resonates with the world's third wheels.

Well, Amy got a taste of my medicine Easter Sunday night as she exited the church building into the chilly evening air. (I'd say the weather was unseasonable but that would suggest Abilene actually has seasons.) As she was getting into her car to go home, a woman approached and asked, "I don't suppose you'd want to buy these gloves, would you?" Having never been asked that question, Amy was working without a net at that point, replying, "What do you need?" The woman - somewhat long in the tooth but short in stature and fragrance - answered, "I only have 11 cents, and I need something to eat."

Amy told her she'd take her to get some food, thinking they'd find the nearest drive-thru. Turned out, she needed breakfast for the following morning. Easter in Abilene means capricious climes and a good excuse for supermarkets to close early. The only store open was the one with the highest prices (starts with "Albert" and ends with "sons"). Then again, you only know these things when you actually have money to spend. Any amount over free is exorbitant when you have nothing. And this woman had nothing. Amy had a lot, so she shared, telling her new acquaintance to get "whatever she needed," which in this case totaled $42.

The stuff in the basket was legit - bacon, eggs, milk, peanut butter. No scratch-off cards or cancer sticks or cheap liquor. Amy took her home, which is to say the place she lived, a small shanty on Abilene's north side which she shares with a couple she believes is mentally unstable. (No word on what they think about her.) She has a son, a Marine now living in Germany who was recently hit by a car and is now convalescing on the other side of the world. She said she owed the couple she stays with $10 in rent and doesn't get her social security check for another 90 days and, "You don't - oh, God forgive me for asking this - you don't have $10 I could borrow, do you?" Amy, not knowing for sure, opened her purse and, of course, sticking out of her billfold was the corner of a $10 bill. What a coincidence.

Having invested $52 and 90 minutes in this woman and what with it being Easter and all, Amy figured she had nothing to lose when she said, "Do you know what Easter is all about?"

"Oh, yes," the woman answered, "I know all about God and Jesus. Maybe I'll come over and see your kids sometime at Highland."

"That would be nice," Amy said, then added, "Would it be okay if I prayed for you?"

"Oh, I wish you would," the woman replied, "and could you also give me a hug?"

Amy did both and drove back to her home on Abilene's south side that she shares with a husband she's now convinced is mentally unstable and three civilian children, all of whom were at the moment safe and sound and sleeping comfortably under warm covers near a full fridge.

As she recounted her own personal Easter service, I couldn't help but think that two millenia after the first Resurrection Sunday, Christ had indeed been raised once again.

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