She crooked her finger at me, right there in the middle of the Art Circle Library.
I should have known from that little school-marm motion to head in the exact opposite direction.
But I’m slow somedays. Maybe a lot of days. So I rose from the table and walked over to where she stood behind the magazine rack.
I read her name tag, recognized the last name as the very same as a good friend of mine. But I did not know this lady and was sure that she was no relation to the NPR reporter friend of mine.
About that part I was right.
She smiled in that intentional way of sales clerks working the upper-end (read overpriced) boutiques.
“I appreciated the talk you and your other author friend gave this morning,” she began.
“Thank you,” I said.
“I could tell that the two of you really put a lot of research into your work.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “It takes a lot of research.”
“I know as an author myself how much research it takes,” she added. “But there is some research you and the other author have failed to do.”
Uhmm. Okay. I had no clue where the conversation was headed. What had Ann Hite or I missed in our work? Maybe there was some local historical connection? Maybe this gal had a nugget of information that would help in future writing projects? Maybe she knew a Melungeon? A Geechee?
“I was greatly offended by your reference to Haints. Are you aware that Jesus tells us to not call forth Haints?”
Umm. Actually no. I don’t remember that verse from VBS. But I didn’t say anything. I just started praying because I could tell that this conversation was not going to end well and I was battling the trailer park girl within.
“Now I don’t know what you and your author friend believe…”I pretended to put my fingers in my ear and sing “Lalalala” the way my daughter does me sometimes.
“But the Bible tells us to stay away from Haints, and I was deeply offended by all that talk of Haints and Jesus.”
During Ann’s talk on how friendly her Haints are in her work, I make mention of Jesus the Hitchhiker Haint, a popular spooky tale that was told around church campgrounds when I was growing up. You see a hitchiker. You pick him up. He gets in the car and tells you some secret only you and God know about it. Then you look over and see that the Hitchhiker is Jesus and poof! he’s gone. Leaving you creeped out but convicted.
I was praying furiously now. Oh. Dear. God. Stupid people who mean well are the worst sort.
Then she did that thing that really makes me crazy. You know that move. She placed her hand over her heart and with all the intensity of 6-year-old. “Jesus is MY PERSONAL Lord and Savior and I LOVE HIM. Your presentation was offensive to me because of that.”
She waited for the Spirit of Conviction to fall upon me. Waited for me to drop to my knees in altar-bawling repentance. So moved should I have been by her piety and obvious dedication to HER Lord Jesus Christ.
Drives me bat-crap crazy.
I took in a deep breath, held it for a brief moment. “You have failed to do some research yourself,” I began. “You ought to research who it is you are speaking to.”
Then I turned and walked away.
“Well, I nevah…” she said, standing there satisfied that I was indeed the heathen she considered me to be to begin with.
I wish I had put my hand atop her head and shouted at the top of my lungs: “Woman be healed!”
It ain’t the Walking Dead that scare me. It’s the Walking Dumb.
I wish I had told that woman to watch out because there were six Haints lurking behind her.