“What you need is a beer,” Sandy* said, as soon as her guffawing quieted enough to speak.
Shifting my arm to put forehead to forearm, I registered the advice offered from the kitchen. “Unless you have a vat of it that I can soak my backside in, I don’t think it’ll reach the affected area.” The pop-fizz let me know the Bud had been opened.
“Here, sit up and take a swig; it’ll dull the pain.” Sandy pressed the icy can against my hand. “Or, do you need one of those flex-straws so you can drink it face-down on the floor?”
“No really, Sandy, I don’t drink beer, and you’re right, I’d need a straw, if I did. I just can’t sit on this tender rear-end one minute more.” Her laughter dissolved my own grouchies. I could never refuse to laugh when I heard Sandy, no matter how much I didn’t want to join her. “How can people work in an office? I mean, they must surely develop calluses back there or something. I hope I don’t take too long to toughen up. Stop laughing! I am really hurting here.”
Sandy had returned to the kitchen during my whine. I heard the clink of ice cubes in a glass, followed by another pop-fizz.
A moment later, my new roommate knelt down next to my prone body again. This time a tall glass, dripping with condensation, touched my hand.
I’d not anticipated the cold, and reflexively pulled back. The instant my head lifted, I felt a straw shoved between my lips. “Take a sip; you don’t even have to move.”
I did as ordered, smelling the familiar fragrance of Coca Cola. Speaking around the straw, I voiced my shock. “Ugh, Sandy; what’s wrong with this Coke?”
“Nothing at all. Take another sip.”
Again, I swallowed the familiar beverage with the unfamiliar taste. The smell resembled my favorite refreshment on a hot (or even cold) day, but I couldn’t place the unusual taste. Also of note, my lips began to tingle. My shoulder muscles no longer felt like cords about to snap, and my throat and tummy burned. “Sa-a-an-ndy? (cough, snort.) ” Wha-a-at zin de--”
“R and R. Like it?” I shook my head. “It’s okay; you’ll get used to it. Just drink up and you’ll be feeling fine in no time.”
Though not totally convinced, the warmth spreading rapidly throughout my body, felt good. I drained the glass and fell asleep on the floor. Not just this first day of my new job, but each of the next three home-from-work evenings began with a tall, icy glass of Coke liberally laced with Canada’s best Rich and Rare whiskey.
By Friday evening, my backside showed positive signs of hardening up for the long haul. My previous jobs, far from the sedentary type, had not prepared me for a ten-hour-a-day job at the typewriter, ears covered with the business end of the hospital’s Dictaphone headset. Definitely a difficult change for me, but my body showed progress. I could actually sit in a chair as soon as I got home, without needing a few hours of prostration on the carpet first.
“Okay, Kiddo, let’s wolf down a snack and hit the road. I’m ready to boogie, girl!” Sandy had already started dancing around the kitchen. “Where’s your favorite hangout on a Friday night?”
Did I dare tell her I had none? Or, should I admit to a wild fascination for that new fast food joint where the hamburgers cost a whopping fifteen cents and the fries ten? I couldn’t be sure I had the name right even—MacGregor’s, MacFriendly, MacDonalds? There hadn’t been anyone dancing when I had been in there, so probably not the place on her mind. “No, not really. Where do you want to go?”
“There’s a cowboy bar off the Frontage Road that’s a good place to start. The music’s great, but sometimes the guys aren’t. We’ll check it out and move along if the place’s full of jerks.”
“Uh, Sandy, I don’t really go to bars.”
“Oh, I know. Kinda like you don’t drink beer, right? You don’t go for the cheap stuff; you want a real drink! Well, there might only be beer drinkers in that bar, but it’s a start. You can tell them you don’t drink beer and see if the guy’ll spring for a real drink.” I didn’t laugh when she did, because I realized I didn’t really understand what she meant. That should have been a good indicator that I should just stay home and watch television instead of following her out the door.
What in the world am I doing in here? I thought as I watched Sandy two-stepping with some guy she’d just met. My hand wrapped around a warming glass of R and R Coke, I turned to stare down at my own dress pair of Tony Lama boots. I’m sorry, God. I don’t belong here; but well, here I am.
“Hey there, little lady; let’s dance.” I half-smiled and politely refused his invitation. “Playin’ hard to git, huh?”
Before I knew what was happening, he had me standing, pressed up hard against him. Locked in his clench, I couldn’t get my hands between us to push him away.
In a flash, I heard my roommate’s voice shouting in the ear attached to the head trying to find my lips. “Let her go, cowboy.”
“Whoa there, now, Miss! I meant no harm.”
“Just let go of her before things get ugly here.”
“Please, Sandy, can we just go?” Humiliated, I only wanted to go home.
“Yeah, c’mon. I know another place with gentlemen cowboys who know how to treat a lady.”
We left the bar, and two more before Sandy finished her night of dancing. I danced with a few guys; let some buy me a drink, but not a beer; and can’t say I had much fun. I knew I didn’t belong there, drinking beverages that thickened my tongue and dulled my senses.
Where was God in all of this? Watching, waiting, and probably sending His Holy Spirit to convict me that I was His and had no business bar hopping, getting drunk, or letting inebriated cowboys rub their over-stimulated bodies up against me in the tight embrace of the slow dancing.
God never sent down a single lightning bolt to strike me dead, or at least, shock the foolishness out of me. How I longed for God to zap me back to fearing Him more than being afraid I wouldn’t fit in if I didn’t do these things others seemed to enjoy.
However, making choices for us isn’t God’s way. He wants us to voluntarily make right choices, pulling back to let us walk on the wrong path for as long as it takes for the consequences to draw us back to Him. My journey of coming face-to-face with my own failings had just begun.
****Failings Exposed, Scene 3…Next Post