Monday, November 19, 2012

Midgets on mainstreet

Two midgets were on either side of the street; red buckets in their little hands, out begging for change. Occasionally one of them shook a sign explaining who it was they were collecting money for, but it was hard to read in the harsh, midday sun. Cars leaving the parking lots of local churches, on their way to lunch, slowed to gawk or to read. A few stopped. One or two rolled down a window and dropped handfuls of coins or a little folding money into their pails.

I'd just come from a church myself and thought I might stop, if only to ask if they were really there. A couple of hours before I'd swallowed just enough cough medicine to make the light coming out of the sky look funny. My cough was mostly gone, but the world looked phony and I was filled with dread and fear. The service had been a strange one.

I've been going to church again now for a while. I seldom miss a Sunday, except when I go to visit my Mom or when my girlfriend tells me she's skipping. I go to see her and to try to fit into her life a little more.

That hasn't been entirely easy. Twice married with kids (plus I'm a a decade and a half her senior), there aren't that many who are openly and unreservedly supportive of me. I'm this goofy freak that represents all kinds of things that go against their beliefs, but everybody likes her so they only condemn me in the gentlest of terms.

It wears on me a little. She has friends who spend a little too much of their time coming up with new and novel reasons why I'm around.

It always works out to I'm using her. What I'm using her for changes every couple of months. So far, it's been sex and different kinds of emotional stability. Pretty soon, somebody will suggest that I'm after her money. 

Anyway, I like going to church with her. It feels good and right to sit next to her in the pew and everyone is nice, though I'm not really part of the congregation. Of course, everyone knows why I'm there. I'm not there for the weekly message or to worship. I'm not even there to impress her folks or the preacher with my fine churchgoing credentials. I just go to see my girl, which sounds vaguely blasphemous, except I do pay attention. I listen to every word that comes out of the preacher's mouth and when the choir sings, I don't join them, but I read the words in the hymnal.

I don't know if it counts. I'd like to think it does, but there are some days when nothing I do counts for much, but I still do the work, still do what I feel like I have to, even if I don't know how it will all work out.

It might be that one day, I'll feel something: the spirit will move me. It might be that it already has and I'm just as I'm supposed to be.

I saw something of myself in those two people collecting change. They were a pair who might not measure up well against others more perfect, but they were still willing to do what others wouldn't. They were brave enough stand out by the side of the road and ask for donations ten minutes after most people had already given all they planned to give to anybody for the entire week.

It might have seemed foolish by some, but I marveled at their faith and their courage. I want to be like that.

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