Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Here We Go!

I held onto Daddy's large hand as he guided me up the sharp and uneven church steps. My heart was beating furiously as sweat rolled down my back. I did not want to worship at his church on this particular Sunday. Actually, I did not want to attend at all. Once we were inside, Daddy told me to have a seat in a pew while he went to "warm-up" with the choir. Now, sitting in a pew; I had wondered if Daddy would have noticed from the choir loft if I had left to go to the corner drug store for candy or attend my mother's church a couple of blocks away. I thought better of the idea and prayed that Mrs. Hattie Mae Bevins would not attend church service.

Sitting on one of the many rows of cushioned pews with my feet far away from the hardwood floor, I had noticed the cathedral-looking rostrum, the elaborate organ, the horseshoe balcony and the exquisite light fixtures that hung from the ceiling. Several of Daddy's church friends gave me a kind greeting and then rubbed me on the head - like it was going to bring them good luck or something.

Minutes later, the church organist took her rightful place and began to play some familiar hymns as more worshippers entered the sanctuary. Several nurses dressed in starched white uniforms and caps stood strategically around the House of the Lord. Since there were so many nurses at church, I had wondered if someone was going to die. As though she was waiting for the proper moment, Mrs. Hattie Mae Bevins entered the sanctuary. "Oh Lord! Here we go!" I thought aloud. Short in stature with an over sized hat pulled over her gray hair, Mrs. Bevins strolled down the center aisle and sat in her normal seat. I'm thinking that Mrs. Bevins was around 125 years old back then. Let's keep in mind that I was seven-years-old, so everyone with gray hair was real old to me. However, she may have been deep down in her eighties.

The order of service was liturgically correct and ran smoothly from 11:00 a.m. until a minute or two after twelve. Then, The Reverend Andrew Washington took his place behind the sacred desk as the lights were dimmed in the sanctuary. My head began to hurt, my heart rate increased its rhythm, and I felt like fleeing the church. Someone said that this is how the unchurched feels when they enter the House of the Lord. Anyway, Reverend Washington began his fire and brimstone sermon. Mrs. Bevins swayed from side-to-side in her pew and began to wipe away her tears. The fiery sermon continued as Mrs. Bevins started to cry aloud and stomp her feet. Three nurses rushed to her side carrying a glass of water and a church fan. Mrs. Bevins then released a loud wail, jumped to her feet and waved her arms in the air. I think she shouted, "Oh Lord! Oh Lord! Sweet Jesus! Glory!" over and over again. Reverend Washington, noticing Mrs. Bevins, increased  his tone and vocal pitch as the nurses made vain attempts to fan Mrs. Bevins.

After her usual performance, Mrs. Bevins sat down for a short spell and sobbed. Once Reverend Washington raised his voice again, Mrs. Bevins jumped to her feet released another high pitched scream, flailed her arms and smacked Mrs. Ethel Jamerson, who was sitting right next to her, across the face. In a fit of anger, Mrs. Jamerson said, "If you don't sit your old hind parts down and stop all that crying, I'm gonna give you something to cry for! I'm tired of you hitting me every Sunday!" So, Mrs. Bevins took her seat and just whimpered for the rest of the sermon. I had often wondered what kind of sinning was Mrs. Bevins doing during the week at her age that she needed to cry and pass out at church every single Sunday. Weeks later, Daddy informed me that Mrs. Jamerson had found a new seat in church.

So, after that worship service I figured that it was time to end my visits to Daddy's church - except for special occasions. I conveniently joined the youth usher board at my mother's church (read my post: "It's Not In Braille") and then the youth choir. I figured that would keep me busy for quite a few Sundays in a row. Besides, Mom's church kept the lights on during the sermon; service ended around 12:30 p.m.; there were no nurses in white uniforms; and nobody screamed - frightening a sweet, young, innocent seven-year-old boy like I was...tee, hee, hee.

Until next week, keep praising His name,
Sir Charles

                                   In The Black

Preacher Man


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beep! Beep! Beep!

Juanita and her two pre-teen grandchildren, Jerry and Caitlin, entered the busy Wal-Mart Superstore. The middle aged grandmother could feel her knee "acting" up and debated if she should use one of the store's complimentary hoverounds. Jerry and Caitlin had both noticed Juanita's slight limp from the car to the store's entrance. Jerry had an idea that he wanted to share with Juanita.

"Hey grandma, why don't you use one of those motorized chairs?"
Caitlin chimed in and said, "Yeah grandma, it will take the pressure off of your knee."
As though she were appalled and offended, Juanita countered, "I'm not getting in that thing! People are going to be looking at me!"
Jerry said, "But, your knee least give it a try."
"Yeah, give it a try, grandma," offered Caitlin.
"Dang it! Okay. I'll try it," said Juanita as she eased into the hoveround.

She placed her handbag in the basket and began to steer the motorized chair through the giant store. Because, Juanita could not get the hang of the hoveround, she jerked back and forth for several feet - much to her grandchildren's amusement. Trying to make a turn down the cereal aisle, Juanita accidentally bumped into a large Cheerios's display knocking several boxes onto the floor. Jerry quickly picked up a large box and placed it in Juanita's basket.

Continuing down the aisle, Caitlin placed a box of Pop Tarts in the basket while Juanita rolled over a young girl's doll - by accident. She apologized profusely to the crying girl and her mother as she rolled down the aisle. "I hate this thing," Juanita mumbled aloud. Two aisles later, Jerry and Caitlin had added paper towels, soft drinks and a dozen eggs that were teetering on the side of the basket. The grandchildren had completely blocked Juanita's vision with groceries. She now became a little nervous. "This is worse than driving in a foot of snow," she told her grandchildren.

Now, rolling down the frozen food aisle with Jerry and Caitlin walking on both sides of her and peering around the groceries in her basket; the trio found two occupied hoverounds blocking their path. Jerry reached for a bag of mixed vegetables and placed them on top of the paper towels. Observing the other motorized wheel chairs, Caitlin had a thought.

"Grandma, you are going to have to turn around, anyway. Besides, we need some ice cream down at the other end," said Caitlin.
"Dang it! Okay," said Juanita.

Juanita pressed the reverse button and immediately the sound, "Beep! Beep! Beep!" was released throughout the food section. Jerry and Caitlin laughed hysterically. Juanita then made vain attempts to turn the hoveround in the opposite direction; but, instead she bumped into one freezer door and then ran head on into the door on the other side of the aisle.

While Juanita's hoveround was going "Beep! Beep! Beep!" a young child from another aisle shouted, "Mommy, is that a truck making that noise!"
"No, it's not!" Juanita shouted as she bumped into one freezer door and then the other - over and over again. Jerry and Caitlin continued their hysterical laughter.

As she bumped into the freezer doors, large packages of lightweight paper products fell onto the aisle and onto Juanita's head. Her grandchildren were too busy laughing to help their grandmother. After she finally learned how to stop the hoveround; Juanita released some bad words. She removed herself from the chair and noticed that nearly all of the customers on the frozen food aisle were laughing at her. Juanita dugged for her handbag underneath the grocery items, reached for her debit card and told her grandson to get a basket and pay for the groceries. She exclaimed, "I'm going to my car! I've had enough of this for one day! And for a long as I live, I will never ride in one again!"

An elderly gentleman standing behind his shopping cart said to no one in particular, "That was funnier than an I Love Lucy episode."

Until next week...keep praising His name,
Sir Charles

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

"My Car Don't Understand...."

Roger Brewer had been fooling around with the features on his brand new 2012 Hyundai Sonata. His biggest headache was the car's integrated blue tooth system. Roger was just having a difficult time of getting the system to obey his every command. So, one day he decided to disconnect the system and to his and his wife's, Samantha's, surprise the four-door sedan refused to start.

Samantha asked in a light soprano voice, "Why in the heck did you do that? You are not a mechanic."
"I know, I ain't. But, this car ain't doing what I'm telling it to. I thought I'd reset it," replied Roger.

Once Roger reconnected the blue tooth system, he decided to give it a retest. Samantha took her place on the front passenger's side of the car. She was still a little miffed that their grandson was allowed to eat in the new vehicle, but she could not enjoy that same privilege. Now, Samantha wanted to see how well Roger had reconnected the blue tooth system.

Samantha said, "Go ahead and give it a command."
"I wanna talk to Jerome!" Roger shouted toward the console.
"You have to tell her which Jerome," offered Samantha
"Please, give me a command," the recorded voice instructed.
"I said - I wanna talk to my brother, Jerome Brewer!" Roger repeated.
"Please hold," the recorded voice requested.

Moments later, music from the satellite radio station, 1240 AM, filled the car. Samantha began to laugh and Roger released some expletives. Previously, when Roger informed the system that he wanted to talk to Jerome, it had connected him to his daughter-in-law's father, Jerome Jones in Milwaukee, and not his brother, Jerome Brewer. Roger had called Jerome Jones so many times that he called Samantha to ask if Roger was "okay" and should he call 9-1-1. "I'm just worried about Roger calling me a half-dozen times a day and then hanging up," he had told Samantha. Thinking about her call from Jerome Jones and laughing to herself, Roger had a question.

"What's so funny," he asked.
"You. And that wasn't a command," Samantha offered. She continued, "Try it again."
"Now, I wanna speak to my son, Roger Junior," Roger shouted toward the console.
"Please, give me a command," the recorded voice instructed.
Samantha interrupted, "Roger, you have to say - 'Call' or 'Dial' - then give her the area code plus the telephone number. Or tell her to 'Dial' Roger Junior like its listed in your cell phone."
Roger retorted, "No, I don't got to do that." Redirecting his attention toward the console, he repeated, "Lemme speak with my son, Roger Junior."
"Please hold," the recorded voice requested.

Moments later, more music from the 1240 AM radio station filled the car. Samantha laughed while Roger released some new expletives. After she had collected herself, Samantha said, "Well, at least everyone has the same radio station."  She then had an idea.

"Roger, let me try," Samantha offered.
"What? Okay. Go 'head and try," Roger said.
Clearing her throat, Samantha said toward the console in her light soprano voice, "Call Rog....."
Interrupting his wife's command, Roger said, "She ain't gonna be able to understand yo' squeaky voice."
"Well, obviously she doesn't understand your ghetto voice, either. You are sitting over there 'macking' and she still doesn't understand a word you are saying. You have to use the proper commands and speak clearly and distinctly with proper English, Roger."
Frustrated, Roger said, "C'mon. I'm taking this car back to the shop so they can fix it!"
"Huh? The car isn't broken," Samantha said.
"Yeah, but the blue tooth system is," said Roger.

Later that afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Roger Brewer, Senior arrived at the car dealership and entered the service department. Samantha figured that this would be a good time for her to vanish into thin air. They were kindly greeted by Jim Nelson, service manager. Caucasian, with a solid build and a head full of gray hair, Jim extended his warm hand to Samantha and then to Roger. His team members of various races were nearby completing paperwork and assisting other customers.

"How may I help the two of you?" asked Jim in an upbeat tone.
"My blue tooth system is broke," replied Roger.
"Exactly, what is happening?" Jim asked for clarification.
"Well, it don't understand black people," replied Roger.
With giggling from his team members in the background, Jim asked, "Can you please repeat that?"
"Every time I give it a command, it starts playin' the radio station," replied Roger. He continued, "My blue tooth system don't understand me. Can you make it understand black people?" asked Roger.

The service team members all broke into hysterical laughter and some ran into the showroom. Samantha hung her head in disbelief as a few customers turned their heads for a hard chuckle.

Jim, now red in the face, said, "Man, I'm sorry and I cannot help it, and I cannot hold it in much longer. But, I just gotta laugh!" So, Jim laughed for several minutes all while dialing one of his mechanics.

A thin mechanic finally arrived to get a better understanding of the problem, and said to Roger, "A few customers have reported some command problems with the integrated blue tooth system. I think that I can make some adjustments for you." The mechanic then thought to himself, "But, it's not a black thing, though."

So, Roger Brewer said to Samantha and Jim Nelson, "See, I told y'all that my car don't understand black people."

Until next week...Keep praising His name!
Sir Charles

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Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's and Black-Eyed Peas

It was New Year's Eve around 11:57 p.m., and I was buried deep beneath the covers. I had gone to bed early after drinking some Jim Beam and E & J Brandy. For a few moments during the night, I thought that I had been transported to a war zone; specifically, Iraq or Afghanistan. All I could hear was gunfire and firecrackers over and over again  from my bedroom window. I figured that my neighbors were ringing in the New Year with revolvers, shotguns, pistols and firecrackers bought from the local convenience store. However, I had to go to the bathroom and was too afraid to walk past a window in fear of being shot by a stray bullet. So, I began to reflect on some past New Year's Day events.
"Eat your black-eyed peas! It will bring you good luck," Mom and Daddy used to chant every New Year's Day while I sat at the kitchen table.
Quietly and deep within the recesses of my mind, I replied, "I don't believe anything I eat on New Year's Day will have any effect on my life for the rest of the year." I then asked, "Do I have to?"
"Yes, you do. Have you been sick this past year?" asked Mom.
"Ummmm, nope," I replied. "But, I'm sure that eating black-eyed peas last year had nothing to with it," I thought." I started to ask, "Are you trying to brainwash or use child psychology on me?" then I thought better of it.
Daddy then said, "Eating black-eyed peas is a time honored tradition on New Year's Day. It will bring you good luck. Eat your greens, too. They will bring you money," he continued.
Looking at Daddy with my mouth agape, I said, "You know what, Daddy? Oh, never mind."
"Go ahead and start eating," Mom commanded.
"May I have some more stewed tomatoes to cover the peas up, please?" I then thought, "They are staring at me, and they taste nasty, too."
"Yes, you can," Mom said.

Later that day, the ringing of the doorbell caught Daddy's attention. He quickly removed himself from the recliner, walked to the front door and peered out the peep hole. Smiling broadly, he opened the door for my maternal grandfather, Papa.

"Hey! Why did you call me over here? I was watching TV," Papa asked as he entered the house.
Daddy replied, "I didn't want anything. I just wanted to make sure  that a man was the first to enter the house for the New Year. It's supposed to be good luck."
Laughing loudly, Papa said, "I did the same thing. William Barbour just left my house a few minutes ago."

Immediately thereafter, a few of Daddy's close male friends rung our doorbell and sat for a long spell. I reckon they were out and about bringing good luck to the entire city for the New Year. Reaching into "the liquor cabinet," Daddy offered each of them a shot of liquor - or so.  Now, that I think about it; they probably wanted to come over anyway for a drink to help ring in the New Year.

Years later, my sister's friend, Michelle, began hosting New Year's Day parties at her home. She cooked a giant pot of black-eyed peas, fried chicken, corn bread, collard greens, stewed tomatoes and a pound cake. After eating, drinking and merriment, Michelle gave all of her guests three dry black-eyed peas wrapped in aluminum foil - for what reason? Good Luck! The three peas represented health, wealth and happiness.

Months later while searching through my wallet, I realized that the wrapped peas were still hidden deep within one of my wallet's hideaways. Suddenly reflecting, I thought that particular year was going amazingly well for me. However, I may have been "brainwashed" into thinking that it was the effects of the black-eyed peas.

So, as time marched on and mentally stuck in the time honored tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day; I had resolved to eat only twelve peas - one for each month of the year - covered with lots of stewed tomatoes. Actually, I thought this would be a fair compromise as opposed to trying eat an entire bowl full of peas that seemed to be staring at me. Well, I may have to admit that Mom's child psychology from yesteryear may be finally working on me.

Until next week....Keep praising His name!
and Happy New Year!

Sir Charles

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