Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Blonde in a Corvette

“It’s not mine,” she said.

That’s what they all say. It’s the boyfriend’s. It’s the husband’s. Or the ex-husband’s.

She had skidded to a halt in the parking lot of my church on a very brilliant, coolish, fall day. The sky was October blue, the leaves were beginning to turn, the air was cooling. Football weather. I was putting a second coat of paint on the front door when she rolled in. Our church fronts a fairly busy street. The railroad tracks are two house lots over, running perpendicular to the street, and this street was one of only three streets in three miles for crossing the tracks. So we got a lot of traffic. On Sundays, we don’t have enough congregation to need a cop to direct traffic but I have always stated that would be a good problem to have. Some day we would get to that level.

“You ever ridden in a Corvette?” she said.

The ‘Vette was new. I don’t know the models any more. Couldn’t afford one and so I knew as much about Corvettes as I knew about a Rolls-Royce. Except for one.

I stared for a moment if only because I was still taking in the scene. I was standing there in the sun shine, in a sleeveless Georgia Tech t-shirt and paint-dribbled bluejeans, roller brush in one hand and a rag in the other.

She was blonde. Always is. Riding with the top down and with no kerchief her hair was wind blown in every direction. Big smile, big hair. She had on a blue-on-white striped sailor’s shirt.

I hadn’t even spoken to her yet and she had already said the ‘Vette wasn’t hers. I guess I should have known it wasn’t. It never was.

Yes, I had ridden in a Corvette. In my younger days I had a friend who worked magic with a wrench. He’d married (if I could ever remember the details right) a ’65 StingRay bac kend with a classic ’63 Corvette front, like the one from the television show. Don’t ask me how he did it. What I also remembered was we took her out for a spin and it was probably a bit of luck we made it back home alive. I lived in Illinois then, in the flat, corn country, and we shot out of town headin’ south on a warm summer’s night, as they say, hauling the mail. It was a convertible and the interior (although I don’t which interior it was) was in good shape and all the right parts worked and we flew down the highway, straight and level for about five miles. I had to go out behind the garage to relieve myself when we got back home. So, yes, I’d ridden in a ‘Vette. Next question?

She had a big smile. Lots of teeth. Tanned face that looked a bit drawn perhaps from too many cigarettes. Her voice seemed strained and hoarse. But her attitude was cheery and light hearted. She struggled a bit to climb out the car. It was too low slung and she was too tall.

My mind shot back to wondering why it was young women never seemed to own the hot sports car or the big tall truck. Income? Social pressure? Maybe part of our culture demanded she earn the privilege to drive his car. I was glad my wife was not like that.

In the background noise I could hear the rise and fall of a police siren.

The young woman bounced on her feet. Giddy, like.

“You work here?” she said.

“I’m the pastor. So, yeah, I work here.”

I did my best to smile, being very warm from the heat and the work, and standing in the sun.

“I don’t go to church,” she said.

“Sorry. Any particular reason?”

“No. Just not my lifestyle, I guess.”

I wasn’t immune to other church goers, even some in my congregation, who saw church as a lifestyle. I sort of wished there was a better articulation but I didn’t argue.

“Nice color,” I said.

When you’re painting a door basic white a convertible in royal blue looks pretty spiffy. The sirens were getting closer but that didn’t necessarily mean anything. Because this was one of the few railroad crossings made this a busy route for EMS, the cops, and the fire department. It was not unheard to have a siren go racing by in the middle of the prayer requests. I didn’t pay an overly amount of attention to the squad cars as they raced by us, this time, sirens in full throat, neither apparently noticing a blonde and a Corvette at the front of the church talking to a man holding a paint roller.

The blonde didn’t seem to notice the squad cars going by us. She continued to smile and I could see her lips move but couldn’t quite make out what she was saying. When I visit some of more elderly congregates who talk very quietly, I’ve learned to watch them talk and then smile and make an intelligent reply.

“Nice church,” she said.


It was still in nice shape and an attractive building for being well over 35-years old. Prior pastors and congregations had worked hard to keep it fresh and alive, inside and out.

“I should go to church,” she said.

“Wouldn’t hurt,” I said.

“I’ve done some things wrong, you know?”

“Who hasn’t,” I said.

“Would you forgive me?”

“Not my call, actually. But if you behave I reckon we’d let you stay.” I smiled by best pastoral smile. Oh, some days, I thought, some days, it would be so nice.

The two squad cars returned, one to each entrance to our parking lot. The officers didn’t jump out with weapons drawn. They didn’t shout orders or make demands. Almost casually they walked towards the the blond standing next to the Corvette.

“It’s not mine,” she said.

“Yeah,” said one of the cops. He was older, had all the braiding of a veteran cop. “We know.”


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