Sunday, June 13, 2021

Perfect Disdain

“If you sincerely believed in God, how could you form one thought, speak one sentence, without mentioning Him?” ― Neal Stephenson, Anathem

    The summer I was 16, I discovered that Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t like Catholics, and also that I didn’t like riding in convertibles with the top down.  I spent that summer babysitting for the Monroes because Cindy was going back to school to finish her degree and her husband Fletcher had to work.  I really liked the kids - Jason was an engaging and sweet 7-year-old and toddler Katie was easy-going and usually wanted to do whatever Jason did.  

    Cindy had to leave early for the University so her mother-in-law picked me up in her candy-apple-red convertible. It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny, and - unusually for Missouri in June - not too hot, and ... the top was down.  The wind was loud, and my long hair blew all around and got in my eyes, and I mostly kept my eyes closed and tried to keep up my end of the shouted conversation. I think the elder Mrs. Monroe was disappointed that I was unimpressed with her car.

    She dropped me off, and Fletcher left for work. The kids were watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and I plopped down and joined them - the adventures of Prince Adam were a bit of a guilty pleasure.

    The doorbell rang and when I opened the door, I found a very tiny, very wrinkled old lady on the doorstep.  

    “I’m from the local Kingdom Hall. Does your family go to church?” she asked in a friendly rasp.

    Did she mean me personally, or the Monroes? I wasn’t really in the mood for this - the mother of another family I regularly sat for was always trying to convert me. My own religious situation was complicated, so I decided to go with the Monroes - maybe that would head her off. “Well, I’m just the babysitter, but I think the family is Catholic.”

    Her friendly expression soured as her wrinkles slid into a frown.  “Oh,” she said with perfect disdain. She turned to go and left without looking back once.  

     Huh, I thought to myself.  That was almost too easy.

[Cathy's note: this one is a true story. I fleshed it out very slightly for context and because I don't remember the woman's exact words when I opened the door. It would have been was something like what I wrote, though]