Monday, April 22, 2013
My Daddy loves to drink kool-aid (registered trademark, I feel quite sure) and since he moved in with me I have gotten him used to drinking it sugar-free. I initially tricked him but by the time he figured it out, he had admitted to liking it and would rather break his own nose than admit I got one over on him. I know, I know, fake sugar does as much harm, etc. Since he is diabetic, I think it’s less bad for him, don’t you? And if you don’t, then you need to keep it to yourself. I have to live with this narcoleptic wildebeest, not you.
When I ask him his favorite flavor, he said ‘red’. Full disclosure, what he said was, “If God made something better than red kool-aid, he kept it to himself.” And if you’re Southern, red is a flavor, most especially at Vacation Bible School or VBS.
Those who were raised in the land mass known as God’s Country know full well to what I am referring. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular school, let me start by saying that I am saddened but not shocked and, bless your poor heathen heart, I will not blame you for the failings of your family and/or community.
Vacation Bible School is exactly that. It is a school where you learn about the Bible while you are on vacation from regular school. And there are snacks like those butter cookies shaped like doughnut flowers that you could store on your fingers until you ate them. And kool-aid, always red kool-aid. It never occurred to any of us that there were other options for beverages. Orange kool-aid wasn’t kool-aid, it was Tang. And purple kool-aid was and is gross. Just like purple jolly ranchers (also trademarked) are gross. If you actually like the purple ones, you need to do some inward reflection. Seriously.
Some of the other unique things about VBS were saying not only the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag but also to the Christian Flag and the Bible. That rustling sound was the rapid arching of the eyebrows of my readers who aren’t sure if I’m kidding. And I assure you I am not. Also the older kids got the opportunity to pray out loud for the first time. And let me tell you that is a terrifying activity. You don’t know from stress like a 12 year-old who is desperate to sound both reverential enough to not be smitten from on high yet blasé enough about it to not be picked last in kick ball during the activity period.
And I used to think that I was nervous about praying out loud due to my age. I found that not to be the case, at least in my family. Now my Mother, as we have discussed, was 5’5” of Jesus coming at you in white Keds (registered trademark, again) practically glowing with love and devotion and sometimes Elmer’s Glue, as she was often in charge of arts and crafts. She would pray at the drop of a hat and always with conviction and sometimes in King James English. My Daddy, on the other hand, was never at church enough to pray about anything other than for there to be enough pork roast for second helpings at the Fifth Sunday dinners on the grounds. There was a running joke at most of our churches that my mother had “made up” my Daddy to have a father for her children as he was typically working on Sundays, as you often must when your labor is of the manual variety.
On one of his irregular visits to church, the good preacher, thinking he was dealing with your average man asked my Daddy to close the sermon with a prayer. My siblings and I said very quick prayers begging Jesus not to strike our Daddy down should he inadvertently cuss or say something inappropriate as he was wont to do. To our, and the rest of the congregations surprise and confusion, we heard our mother inhale sharply and suddenly start praying. At the end of the eloquence, everyone wondered, but didn’t dare ask, why she had stepped in so quickly, not knowing that the sharp inhale was due to my Daddy elbowing her to pray as I think he, too, was worried about cussing or worse in the House of the Lord.
When in doubt, send in the pros. Can I get an Amen, y’all?