You see, Donna and I were members of a club headed up by Mortimer Jordan High School's business teachers--the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). (Isn't that just a hope-filled title for a high school club?)
As I mentioned in the last post, Mrs. Vogel was always pushing us toward excellence. That particular year, the competitions she took us to were held at the FBLA's State Convention at a hotel in Birmingham, which, for us small-town girls, was a BIG DEAL. One of my roommates for the weekend was my cousin-friend, Donna. Laughter was contagious when we were together; we had that "ease" which comes from playing hide-and-seek and laying in the living-room floor watching "Dark Shadows," while slurping dripping DreamSicles.
But...back to the FBLA convention. That year, in addition to all the typing, filing, timed-writing, transcribing, spelling and talent contests (which, one year, Joy and I rocked by singing a duet of "Killing Me Softly.") Anyway...that year...in addition to all the above, Mrs. Vogel's son (and Dawn's brother), Greg, was running for FBLA State President. And, the Mortimer Jordan FBLA Blue Devils were determined to secure his victory. Earlier in the week, we had gone to the Vogels' house and designed door-knob-hanging flyers that insisted "VOTE FOR GREG!"
And, we had come up with a strategy to deliver our message to every FBLA voter in the hotel--the night before the BIG VOTE, we would disperse these victory-bringing flyers on every doorknob in that hotel. My partner in this campaign was Donna.
So, with flyers in hand, we stepped off the elevator onto our designated floor. Donna went left; I went right. Because it was late, the plan was just to quietly hang "VOTE FOR GREG!" on each doorknob, then meet back at the elevator.
And...things were going as planned.
I was leaning down to hang a flyer...when...all of a sudden...the door swings open.
And...there....standing in the doorway...is a FULL-GROWN man....
...wearing a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit. Here I'll just show you what I'm talking about:
....Did I mention this man was GROWN???
Because my eyes were already looking down at the doorknob, the first thing I noticed were his funny, pilgrim-like shoes. Then, my gaze moved upward. While trying to process what it is I'm looking at...my first thought...kid you not...is, "I thought Little Lord Fauntleroy was dead."
Then...after quickly making eye (and hat) contact...my brain suddenly remembers he's holding something...so my eyes dart back down to that something. But...my brain can't quite make sense of it....Well, here, I'll just show you:
That's right...it's a gun...a Blunderbuss gun.
And...before my brain can kick into gear...and get the heck out of "Dodge," he fires that gun!
And...it was LOUD...as in
As I'm standing there looking at him...thinking to myself--"so this is how I die"--Little Lord Fauntleroy just smiles at me and closes the door.
And...I start backing toward the wall on the other side of the hallway...holding my soon-to-be-mortal-wound...with so many thoughts swimming through my head that I can't sort them out. But, the one that keeps bobbing to the top is: "I have to find Donna. I don't want to die alone."
As I'm sliding down the wall, I look to the side of the hallway where I had last seen Donna... and, there she is...trying her best to climb the wall at the other end. When she heard that KABOOM, her flight instinct must have kicked in big-time.
And...as I'm watching her...my only thought is, "Why is she trying to climb that wall?" But what I yell instead is..."Donna, I've been shot."
Only then...when I say those words...do I look down at by stomach...where that Blunderbuss was pointing...only then do I realize I'm not bleeding...that I wasn't shot after all. That LOUD gun wasn't even real. Only then do I start connecting the dots and realize the man who had just "shot" me wasn't Fauntleroy. He was just some weirdo who wanted to scare the pee out of a girl whose only concern was "VOTE FOR GREG!"
Of course...in those few seconds, Donna, had given up on climbing that wall and had come to help me.
Honestly, I don't remember much that happened after that; after all, I had just been "shot." (Hopefully, Donna can fill in some of the gaps when she reads this.)
I do remember me and her sitting in that hallway...realizing we were both going to live...(and were going to need a change of underwear). And, as usual, the laughter started.
Eventually, we stood up and ran to that elevator...off that hallway...no longer even caring if the people on that floor VOTED FOR GREG!
After we dropped by our room for that change of underwear, we decided we better find Mrs. Vogel and tell her what had happened. I don't remember much about her response. But, I do remember that those big, blue eyes of hers got a little bigger, and that peaches-and-cream complexion lost a little peach.
In the years since, I've sometimes wondered about Little Lord Fauntleroy...WHO WAS HE?...WHERE DID HE GET A FAKE BLUNDERBUSS?...AND WHY DID HE FEEL THE NEED TO SCARE THE PEE OUT OF ME (...and DONNA)?
By now, he has to be pretty old. I sometimes imagine him sitting in his chair, thinking back to that night...when he "shot" a chubby girl with long brown hair who was just about to hang a "VOTE FOR GREG" flyer on his doorknob. And, I imagine him chuckling at the memory.
But that's OK...I do too. So does Donna.
I've come to believe it's our scary moments...our hard times...those days when we find ourselves wishing we could climb a wall...which create the very moments when--usually later...in the "looking back"--God breaks through and whispers, "Psssttt...See! I was right there. And just look at the story it gave you....Look at the laughter it STILL brings. Just look at the richness and color it added to the book of your life."
I've come to believe this is at least one meaning of His promise to "turn our mourning into dancing."
"I give you all the credit, God—
you got me out of that mess....
God, my God, I yelled for help
and you put me together....
All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God!
Thank him to his face!
He gets angry once in a while,
but across a lifetime there is only love.
The nights of crying your eyes out
give way to days of laughter.
I called out to you,God;
I laid my case before you:
...When I’m ‘dust to dust’
my songs and stories of you won’t sell.
So listen! and be kind.
Help me out of this!”
You did it:
you changed (mourning) into whirling dance;
....I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God, I can’t thank you enough."
(From Psalm 30, The Message)