"Well, I'll Be John Brown"

Real stories about folks who have blessed my life with the joy and fulfillment of laughter. Long may they live.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

A Southern Boy - Born In Alabama, Reared In Georgia, and Matriculated, Married & Initiated Into Manhood In Tennessee.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

An Extra Set Of Cheeks

A popular comedian from the 70's once said that he loved old people because they were smart. His reasoning, "You don't get to be old by being no fool."

Old people are also commonly very honest and frank in their speech. Uninhibited is probably a better word. Like young'uns, old folks can say stuff and get away with it because of who and what they are. Old folks not only grow short in memory, but also unashamedly so in their "tolerance" (or intolerance) of things they don't like.

Old people think that political correctness is just a bunch of hooey.

Long live their wisdom.

An old white haired brother in the Lord named "Clayton" was just such a specimen of boldly speaking his mind.

Once in a Bible class the idea of, "vengeance is mine saith the Lord," was being hotly debated. Old brother Clayton always sat down front, and always stood up when he had a comment to make. As the vengeance discussion grew in its vigor, old brother Clayton raised his hand. When recognized by the teacher he stood up and slowly delivered a memorable gem.

"I know that the Lord said what he did...but I see it this-a-way...if you don't like my peaches then don't shake my tree."

The class was "over" after that. No one heard another word the teacher said.

To top this, one Sunday morning the issue was immodesty and lust. Brother Clayton had always spoken his mind zealously in wrathful condemnation of such. However, it was also a sure bet to find him every weekday afternoon in front of his television set intently watching soap opera lovers polish each others tonsils in the semi-buff.

The old adage, "Do as I say not as I do," comes to mind here.

As the different observations regarding immodesty and lust were offered in that morning Bible class, the trembling old hand of brother Clayton's slowly rose from the pew down near the front. When the teacher nervously called his name brother Clayton stood, this time much more slowly and deliberately than normal. The auditorium went deathly silent.

E.F. Hutton even hushed his proverbial mouth.

"It's a crying shame that our young ladies walk around half nekkid like they do today," he began. At first his voice was low and soft, but grew louder and more passionate with each word. "Why, in my day...when a body strutted around...notta wearing no clothes...we assumed they was either a whore with no sugar daddy...or that they was poor as a he-haint."

Now, any good Christian from the south learns early in life that "he-haints" are male ghosts. Further, it is a widely accepted truth that, since ghosts always appear unclothed, they must be poor and destitute.

The "he" part is an unspoken anatomical thing.

The only thing poorer than a he-haint was and is "Job's Turkey."

Either way, the mental image is the same.

Brother Clayton continued: "If we found out they didn't have nothing to wear...we would either take up a love offering...er else give them some of our hand-me-downs...Why, even Adam and Eve knew enough to git some fig leaves on their carcasses...when they heard the Lord a-comin' in the garden that day."

Brother Clayton's sermonette continued for several minutes. The teacher was either so captivated or so put out by it all - one of the two - that he proceeded to sit down on the edge of the rostrum next to the pulpit to listen. Mothers were struggling to mute their restless, crying babies. The deacons looked around to see what the preacher's body language was conveying. One old sister about half way up on the right hand side was even taking notes.

Finally, brother Clayton ran out of steam. The congregation, breathing a collective sigh of relief, began adjusting its laundry. With one final burst of righteous indignation brother Clayton delivered a powerful parting shot.

"I think," he shouted, "that every righteous soul in here...ought to tell these hot-tailed young women of ours...what a shame and disgrace it is...that now they are a-wearing their dresses so short...that every one of them...has got an extra set of cheeks to paint!!!"

As brother Clayton sat down there was a variety of reaction from the startled flock, muted laughter being the most dominant. The poor teacher, not knowing what to say, thanked the class for their attendance and asked all to bow in a dismissal prayer.

Before he could accomplish this, however, one old brother near the back - who was about the same age as brother Clayton - raised his hand. The teacher reluctantly recognized him, not knowing what his rebuttal would be.

The class readied itself in weary anticipation of another prolonged diatribe.

As brother Clayton had done, this old brother arose from the pew and dryly observed, "I want to thank our dear brother for his words this morning...I have always wondered...and now I know...exactly what the good Lord meant...when He said fer us...to turn the other cheek."

The gaunlet had been "throwed" down.

The teacher had had enough.

"Let us pray," abruptly ended the laughter that had erupted from the second old brother's remark.

As the congregation stood up to stretch, all over that auditorium, beloved "sisteren" (female equivalent of "brethren") - young and old alike - could be seen tugging discreetly but vigorously downward on all sorts of dresses and skirts regardless of their length.

Brother Clayton had evidently, "done quit preaching and gone to meddling."

Amen, brother...

LIB John Brown


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