Court Her, Pound Her

by Ken Grout
Copyright 2011

I was sixteen and felt God find me. I was at one of those camps for God-finders that were so prevalent then. And it was Sunday afternoon and I still hadn’t had THE EXPERIENCE. Everyone else had it. Or they just arrived that way and wanted a booster shot. But by Sunday afternoon, I had a scant ninety minutes left to find God before my chance was over. I was frantic. People were murmuring phrases like, “just not ready yet,” and “needs more seasoning,” as if we were Thanksgiving turkeys adjudicating one another, and my pop-up thermometer just wouldn’t.

I was standing by a hollowed-out tree trunk with some other teens who were pleading with me to let go and accept. And then it happened. I felt a cloud shadow move over my metaphysical meadow, like a universal love squeegee cleaning away the spiritual pigeon poop from the windshield of my soul. And there were tears and hugs and then still more tears and more hugs an hour later as departures for the world began. And I returned then to my life to try and tell everyone about it.

I spent that next afternoon dancing poorly on a tar-top driveway to a Bee Gees album with a deaf girl from Seattle, some cousin of Christine’s with droopy posture and spruce-colored eyes. She couldn’t actually hear the music, but followed my moves, such as they were. Could sense the rhythm, I supposed. And I, at that moment, was alight with Patience and Grace – happy, needing to share.

I could see her coming alive at the hands of my step-touch-halfspin, but I truly believed then it was The Love and The Grace to which she was responding, nothing more. It was the only thing I could do, at that time on that day, dance with her. I was acting out of The Love, so what other choice did I have? No one was paying much attention to her it seemed – she was from out of town and couldn’t hear a thing – and I needed her to understand. I needed them all to understand.

Did I dance with her out of pity? I suppose, but I was bubbling with enthusiasm for what had happened, for what I had become. You see, the newly spiritual so violently overflow at times that anyone within a mile gets wet. There should be special tape to put around the newly spiritual – like what they use at crime scenes – to prevent the saying or doing of things borne of this new, fresh love that they will be expected to act on or follow through with later when the polish of it all has dulled.

But love was in the air. And she loved me that day, and I her, in a way.

But I am nineteen now, my freshman year under my belt, the world astonishingly not yet ablaze from my brilliance, and I am a fry cook at McDonald’s. Wavy brown hair tamped down thick ‘neath industrial net and tri-cornered paper hat: a greasy, captive McClown. My burger prep ritual has been neatly memorized: place-timer-sear-salt-pepper-timer-wait-turn-salt-timer-lift-bun.

I look up from the griddle’s heat and there they are – Christine and her deaf, left-coast cousin – both faces older, expectant, glowing. Place-timer-sear. I raise the spatula as a wave. Christine can tell almost at once. Salt-pepper-timer. But it takes the cousin a minute longer. I force a smile. Wait-turn-salt. And now she knows, too. I am no longer sixteen. Timer-lift-bun. The pigeons have returned. The squeegee’s edge has dulled. And I am breaking her heart.



Comment from Ken
Posted: October 28, 2011 at 12:27 am

Wow. Good.

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