One day, some twenty-five years ago, my little sister ran full-throttle down the high school hallway toward me. Her eyes were wild and I knew someone had been picking on her. Again. Who was I gonna have to push up against the lockers and threaten back? Who was I gonna have to meet out behind the bleachers at a football game and wap-thump?
“Darlene! See that tall boy? That one. No, no. That one, right there. See, him?”
“Well, he’s the one who keeps picking on me in pre-calculus. He is the one who keeps poking me in the ribs. That tall guy. Right over there.”
“Yep, I see him.”
“Well. What are you gonna do about it? He’s getting me in trouble. And you know how I don’t like to be in trouble. Plus, he’s hurting my ribs.”
“Yep. I hear ya, sista.”
Sometimes, okay, usually, all right already, almost always, I went into battle-mode without hesitation. If someone was picking on my little sister or my friends or the defenseless, I defended. And by doggies, I usually whooped ‘em good. Gave ‘em what they were dishing out, only a bigger serving. I reckon that’s what happens when you are raised without a dad. And ya don’t have any brothers. But ya have a fairly feisty mama who never backed down.
But this time, with this tall guy, it was different. One, he was a guy. Up until then, I hadn’t really fought a dude, only girls. Two, he was ca-ute. Tall, dark, handsome, ruddy cheeks, brown curls at the nape of his neck, and twinkling brown eyes. Three, we were on the track team together and I’d probably get tossed off the team if I opened a can o’ whoop on the fella.
I had to approach my sister’s problem with tact and well-thought out, pre-determined plans.
Later that day, at track practice, with sly and cunning skills only comparable to politicians, I stood next to him during stretching. Yes, after I huffed and puffed my way ‘round the cinders for the warm-up laps. Remember how you need a partner for some of those stretches? Someone else hoists your leg onto his or her shoulder and ya lean into it for a hamstring lengthening session. Fun for me as I was limber as a wet noodle, not so much for the tall guy next to me who appeared to be fused tight at all joints; void all signs of flexibility.
I stretched. In cognito. Or so I thought.
“Hey, do I know you?”
“I don’t know (punk). Maybe you’ve seen me ‘round the track and in the hallways (in between pickin’ on my little sista, punk).”
“Oh yeah, you’re the second string guard on the girl’s basketball team. The one with the spiky hair, lines razored into the side of her head, and the who plays with quite a bit of aggression. Yeah, you’re that girl.”
“Yep. (punk, you pick on my sister again and I’ll…)
“Hey, do you want me to hold your leg for the stretch or what?”
(You touch me and I’ll whoop your skinny butt) “Yeah. Sure. Thanks.”
And that was that. I took care of that big ole meanie who picked on my little sister. Of course I used the following 4-step approach:
2. Best friends: even while we dated other people, which, in hindsight, seems totally wa-eird
3. Boyfriend/girlfriend: we held this stance through the rest of high school and partway through college. He was 16 and I was 17 for our high school parking lot first kiss. I robbed the cradle with that one, aye? Whatever.
4. Hitched: otherwise know as married (18 years today, buckaroos).
I keep checking my mailbox for a thank you card from my sister. Haven’t seen one yet. What’s up with that?
At least I didn’t have to bloody this one’s nose…
* Disclaimer: These events are actual-factual. I was not a believer back then. Faced with the same situation today, well, let’s get real, I wouldn’t be faced with the same scenario today, but if I was given the opportunity to stand up for the little guy, those who cannot stand up for themselves, a.k.a. the least of these among us, well, I reckon, I’d do it with love, first. And if the nonsense were right smack-dab in my face, I’d jump in, full-throttle forward, second. The feathers may fly. If you are of the persuasion to turn the other cheek, cast a blind eye, and never stand up for those who really need it, that there is your deal. Mine is different. I’ve got a lot of feisty in me… oh, dare I say “just ask my husband” ’cause I reckon he’ll tell ya. I know it’s not been easy for him to be married to me all of the time (and let’s keep it real, vice versa), but he once told me that the “feisty” is what drew him in. But we both know, it’s been the love of Christ that’s kept us together. The determined, strong-willed, bold love of Christ.
Happy Anniversary mister E!
Best friends forever.
Love ya! .