Wednesday, August 4, 2010

mrs. brown

After the fiery foreshadowing of an exceptionally long and loud revival meeting, a precocious nine year old decided she’d rather not spend eternity in flames. Hair frizzed from the sulfurous tirade, she slipped from the contest-packed pew and timidly made her way down the blood-red carpeted center isle of the small Midwestern Baptist church. 

“Why did you come forward tonight, my child?” 

She looked up at the preacher with quizzical eyes.  Wasn’t there only one reason to walk down front and make a fool of herself in front of all these people?  She wanted to escape hell, of course. 

“Do you want to be saved?”

She nodded.

“Then follow Mrs. Brown and she’ll show you what to do.”

The girl had seen Mrs. Brown before and didn’t like her.  A big, arrogant, commando woman, she was Sunday School teacher of the older kids.  Mrs. Brown pulled her briskly down the stairs, coffee-table-sized Bible and patent leather purse over her arm, marching, as if they were heading straight to the principle’s office.  Flipping on the light switch in the dark, empty classroom, she pulled out one of the child-sized metal folding chairs and squatted her butt-sprung, olive green, polyester behind down. With a hefty middle-aged hand on each of the girl’s shoulders, she pressed her knee-socked knees to the cold concrete floor.

“Kneel down.”  

Mrs. Brown flopped the big black Bible on her lap and opened it to a spot she had marked with a purple satin ribbon, the ten commandments printed in sparkly gold letters.

“Read this out loud.” 

The girl read the verse, voice shaking a little, as she fumbled the word “everlasting”.

“Now, close your eyes and pray it.”

Looking down at Mrs. Brown’s pointy-toed high heels, the girl shook her head. 

“And, why not?” 

“Because I already believe it.  I don’t need to pray it.”

“Yes you do, you have to.”

Again, the girl refused to pray the prayer.

“Well, alright, then. Get back upstairs.” 

The annoyed Mrs. Brown huffed and pulled the girl to her penny-loafered feet.

                                   ................................................................................

A few months later, the girl was in the back of her friend’s station wagon, on the way to a birthday
party.  Her friend’s mother pulled the car up to the curb and stopped.

“Yoo-hoo! Hi, Carolyn!”

There, in the front yard, was the same Mrs. Brown, sunning her sweaty self on a chaise lawn chair, hair in rollers and her square figure crammed into a green floral swimming suit, complete with a foam Nurse Diesel style built-in bra.  The girls waved as she jumped up, trying to hide certain unsightly parts with those same hefty hands.  






66 comments:

  1. Huh. Serves her right. Not practising what she preaches, is she?

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  2. I wonder , was it a vision of hell or heaven that she saw............?

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  3. Oooh! Loved this one. :)

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  4. That red carpet walk, didn't sound fun.

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  5. Strangely this reminds me of a time I was at a grown-ups party at a neighbor's house. One of the guests turned out to be one of my teachers who I did not like. She proceeded to get stinking drunk and spent much of her evening poking the bubbles in some crisp Aremenian bread. When she noticed me watching she slurred, "You won't tell anyone about this will you?" With a nod of my head I assured her I wouldn't...until I got back to class on Monday. She was "cordial" to me the rest of the year and never again picked on me.

    Really good one Willow.

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  6. hehe. one standard for some, one standard for others...cheers for the little girl...

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  7. Amazing what 'teachers' do to children.......
    Wonderfully written, Willow.

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  8. stopping by to see how the dilly bread was....i am scared to ask...i hope it was o.k.

    did it turn out????

    i sure hope so....

    kary and teddy
    xxxx

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  9. Kary, the dilly bread is going to make it's manor debut this Saturday night. It should be a breeze. I'll keep you posted!

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  10. Also been to a revival meeting or two in my youth. Hell fire if you don't repent and accept. There is so much in this post one could say.

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  11. Egad. What a vividly written story! I felt sorry for the little girl--such wisdom in a tiny person. And then that woman. ARGH! Well, as Aoife says, "serves her right, not practicing what she preaches!"

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  12. I was completely drawn in. You really could write a great novel, Willow!

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  13. It just goes to show God works in mysterious ways. Nice tale.

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  14. Very creepy, this Mrs. Brown.

    I read the story twice, but still do not see what was wrong with Mrs. Brown taking a sunbath in a swimsuit. Is it something about her figure that I did not understand?

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  15. Great read, love the images, sights and sounds of the piece. amen...bkm

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  16. Merisi, it's not the fact that anything was wrong with Mrs. Brown's figure, it's that the tables were turned, and she was on the vulnerable side in the end.

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  17. Creepy doesn't begin to describe the experience.

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  18. Sometimes people with authority let the power go to their head. It's too bad especially in a religious setting. They ruin what could have been a special special experience for someone. Mrs. Brown lost her power when she wasn't in her usual authoritative setting. Chalk one up for the little girl : )

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  19. Excellent, Willow! Love this.

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  20. Reminds me of a conversation I read once. Something about rather go to hell than have to be in heaven with the likes of Pat Robertson, Ted Hagarty and Jerry Falwell.

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  21. So few words, such a clear picture of 'humanity' and innocence. Innocence already soiled by the looks of it.

    Janelle has it about right.

    'unsightly parts'? Like her head?

    Go well Willow into that world between stiff covers.

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  22. wonderful take on the theme! and you totally fooled me when i saw the title i was expecting a post on queen victoria!

    :)

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  23. Amazing what ANYONE does to children and I wish I had known years ago what I read recently:

    "Children will never remember what we said...but will ALWAYS remember how we made then feel."

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  24. Steveroni, that is so true.

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  25. Wow, this is wonderful. I wish there were more. :)
    -C

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  26. having been at a few of these opportunities to be saved , I was so taken with how this made me feel.
    I went with my best friend, eager for any church at the time, but yeah, the Lord worked in mysterious ways and then some.

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  27. They used to say in Wales that the ministers had the bible in one hand, and their ***** in the other.

    I wouldn't know; I never went.

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  28. how sweet is revenge? lovely story-happy TT-c

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  29. I am that little girl (only I was six) ~ thanks for a moment of sweet revenge! That felt good!! Great story!!!

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  30. What goes around, comes around.....Mrs Brown.

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  31. Really thought provoking Willow, I enjoyed this.

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  32. My memories of Sunday School are all happy clapping and singing, maybe I was lucky...or maybe I just didn't want to be saved so never walked up the aisle!

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  33. You see what I mean. Dickens. Pure Dickens.

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  34. Oh the difficulties we create when we add more to the little that we have to accept.

    I felt this one, very well written!

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  35. love that the little girl has the guts to tell what she's already believing..and love the end of your story...

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  36. A great story, Willow! Bible thumping isn't quite the same over here!

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  37. A well-written, realistic rendition of religious life in Appalachia. And, one in particular that was a catalyst to discovering there is so much more...

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  38. What a wonderful story - brings back all the horror of my own religious upbringing. shudders...

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  39. I was terrified of our Baptist church when I was a child...still am!!!

    Prefer my church under the stars demanding only the faith in my heart!

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  40. Heh, heh! Revenge is a dish best served cold!

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  41. GRRRRRR...

    This is one of my pet peeves. "Religious" people who ruin God's image before those who are genuinely seeking to know the Real Thing.

    God is into Relationships, not religion. When you subtract relationships, you are left with phariseeism.

    Sorry, you got me on a soap box there!

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  42. Hi, Just discovered your fascinating blog...and your recipes. I am going to try your salmon recipe with brown sugar, tonight!
    xxoo
    looking forward to more of your blog.
    ps love the photo of the manor...

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  43. Thank you, Willow! *blush*

    P.S.:
    Thank you telling me about the appearance of my coffee post on your blogroll today! Very interesting how Blogger frames the images, there is food for thought in there.

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  44. Btw,
    upon reading your title today, I immediately thought of the movie "Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown". A whole different Mrs. Brown, though. ;-)

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  45. Willow, I keep meaning to comment on the fabulous header you have here, and keep forgetting to do so. Also love your photo of Willow Manor in the summer--lovely!

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  46. Merisi, I adore Judi Dench as Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown. I have a copy of that movie around here somewhere. It's high time I watch it again!

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  47. I want to believe that Mrs. Brown is a character from earlier times or an uneducated place. Hopefully, most people are a little more empathetic to the vulnerability of children these days.... aren't they? It is asking a lot for adults to expect respect when they never offered any in the first place. Mrs. Brown needs to sign up for a few courses in working with children before she actually scars anymore of them. I like the way the story all fit together Willow. Thank you for sharing.

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  48. you've definitely got your 'talent on' girl! this was so good - more please xxo

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  49. She did escape hell as it turned out.

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  50. well told Willow.
    i loved the descriptive images.

    warm smiles,

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  51. A beautifully engaging tale, Willow, wonderfully wrought. It is indeed a sad truth that hypocrisy lives on in all areas of life.

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  52. I really enjoyed this tale. Too bad there are so many Mrs. Browns in the lives of childen.

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  53. I was raised in the Episcopal church, and always went to Sunday School. I took my children to Sunday School in the Presbyterian church. It really wasn't that bad, but now none of us go to church at all. I guess we learned the lessons.

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  54. You got me through & through. I loved the voice in this and your treatment of details.

    PS: I'm doing an Inky Letter Movement over @ my blog this week. I'd love to send you a letter, too, just because. :)

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  55. Great story. It was this story that connected me to Theme Thursdays yesterday. Thanks for the inspiration and connection.

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  56. poor Mrs Brown ~ what a bloomington idiot!
    :) The Bach

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  57. HA, Mrs. Brown! You had me with every word. Wonderfully told. Thank you.

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  58. bizarre imagery there, Willow! whoa.

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  59. Willow,
    I love Judi Dench and especially as Queen Victoria!
    Enjoy the reunion with her!

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  60. glad you found a way to turn BROWN into this delightful tale. you're a peach!

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)