Sheer Mortification

Last week, I ran into Vivian, a former student, at Grace Chapel’s VBS.  She was helping with snacks. 
We chatted, catching up on our lives, when a thin woman approached.  They talked a little and then the woman said, “Kathy, I want to introduce myself—I’m Liz, your neighbor.”
I about sunk through the floor because Scott has introduced us about 4 times in the past 7 years.  But it’s almost always as we pass one another running or walking on the street.
In my defense, Liz’s house is behind mine and a 5 foot vinyl fence separates our homes so I can’t see over to them. The only way I even know they’re there is if I hear talking or their kids playing.  But because I can’t establish eye contact, I haven’t made contact.  Scott can, so he’s had friendly talks with both Liz and her husband.  And more importantly, remembers what they look like.
Of course, after feeling complete humiliation over not recognizing my next door neighbor, a new sense of mortification came.
“I’m so sorry,” I said as I shook her hand, “And I’m so sorry for all the shrieking that comes out of my house.”

She waved her hand.  “Not a problem,” she said with a smile.
Which means she hears all the shrieking.
At that moment I decided to move then and there to a new house far away.
Helen, who lives across the street, and I exchange nervous, “Could you hear the shrieking this morning?” questions regularly—but we never hear each other.  And Frank to the left is stone deaf—have to yell at him for him to hear us.  Jasper on the right is also a little hard of hearing.
But I’ve always known Liz’s family must hear our shrieking.  After all, I can hear almost everything that happens in their home, their kids playing or whining, or birthday party revelry. 
Yet they have an excuse–their kids are little.  And I don’t hear the parents yelling or calling their kids a lazy bum.
At this point Vivian said, “Kathy and Scott were my InterVarsity staff when I was in graduate school at Columbia.”

Liz smiled.  But I knew what was behind that smile.

Sheer disbelief.

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