The pressures of Horace’s job as pastor often interfered with the timing of my own responsibilities.
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By the time I usually got home from working as a seamstress, dinner was late and laundry had to be at least half done before we disbursed to pick people up for church services. Horace tried to give the devil a run for his money by having something for people to do at church every night of the week, and it was my responsibility to get them to the activities.
This one winter day, I told Horace he needed to pick the people up for choir practice as I had worked on red velvet all day and was covered from head to toe in fine, itchy, red lint. Walking home in the snow and ice had further set my schedule off balance. I was just plain old “tired.”
My flesh was irritated, by the red lint, in places I didn’t know lint could go! So, I skipped choir practice and took a little extra time for myself that night. I showered the lint off, washed myself thoroughly and then filled the tub with soothing hot water and a liberal portion of scented bath oil and began to soak.
I was still there when choir practice ended. I was almost asleep and my fingers and toes were wrinkled when I opened my eyes as he rapped on the bathroom door.
“Hon, can you hear me?” he bellowed, as if I was deaf and not just bathing. “I have to take Linda home. Her husband has their car torn apart and he can’t pick her up. I want you to go with us.”
“I don’t want to go outside tonight, Hon! I’ve been soaking in this hot water and all my pores are open. Going out now could give me pneumonia!”
I knew he hated to be alone with any other woman. It’s part of his ethics. He doesn’t believe any man should be alone with any woman other than his wife, because tongues wag at the slightest provocation. But I trusted him. Other women I’m not sure about, but him I am.
The more I resisted, the more he insisted!
“Alright! Alright! I’ll be out in a minute.” I finally said.
I heard him clomp down the twenty odd steps to the kitchen, and I could hear him and Linda talking as I wrapped my towel around me and walked into the bedroom to dress.
“Hurry up, Hon. Linda needs to get on home!” he yelled up the stairs every few seconds. “Come on! You don’t have to get all dolled up! We’re just going to drop her off and come straight back.”
I was getting more impatient than him!
I looked at several things, but couldn’t seem to decide what to wear!
Finally, he hollered up the stairwell, “Come on, Marilyn! Just throw a coat on and let’s go!”
In that instant, my temper boiled over! I was so ticked off with his insistence, that that is exactly what I did! Buck, stark naked I pulled on my long, black faux-fur winter coat and my fuzzy-lined winter boots, picked up my purse, stopped at the bathroom long enough to run a comb through my hair, and left. No one was the wiser!
As providence usually plans it, Linda’s husband invited us in for tea and homemade cookies, and before I could react, Horace said, “We’d love to!”
“Hon, I don’t think we should!”
Linda was out of the car and walking up the sidewalk with her husband, so I took that few moments to try to dissuade him: to no avail.
Once inside, Linda asked if she could take my coat.
“Oh, no, thanks!” I gushed, perhaps a bit too ingratiating. I was trying to cover my stupidity.
Once in their toasty warm kitchen, where the cookies had just come out of the oven, Horace insisted I take a seat at the table so we could enjoy a few minutes of this unusual fellowship. After a minute he looked at me and said. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. Why?”
“You look a little flushed.”
I pulled my coat a little closer in embarrisment. Actually, I was stewing in my own juices! But I knew if I said anything, they’d never understand.
A few minutes later, Horace looked sidelong at me again. “Are you sure you’re all right? You look terrible!”
Linda piped in, “Oh, Marilyn. I feel terrible that we dragged you out tonight. You must be coming down with something. I do hope you’re going to be alright!”
“Well, actually, I have been feeling a little under the weather for a few hours...” I admitted. “Maybe I am coming down with something. I really think we’d better go home, Horace.”
By that time sweat was running down my brow in torrents and the sweat from under my coat was running down my legs, over the tops of my boots, and pooling on the floor under under the table.
Our gracious host and hostess rose and wrapped some cookies in a Christmas baggie and handed them to Horace.
As he got up to help me up, my foot stepped in the sweat pool and I’d no sooner gotten to my feet than they slipped out from under me.
Everybody thought I’d fainted!
I assured everyone I was going to be fine, and was a bit more careful getting up. I could only wonder what they’d think that puddle under the table was! I was mortified.
Horace, thinking I was very ill, was unusually attentive helping me into the car. He drove carefully through the city streets toward home and as soon as he got to the first secluded area, where there were no streetlights or houses, I whipped that coat open and let some of the steam escape.
I did it so fast, I startled Horace and he looked at me, wide-eyed! The car began to slide and he steered it to the curb while screaming at me, “Marilyn! My God! You’re naked! Are you nuts?” He was laughing hysterically.
“Well it’s all your fault!” I laughed back, flipping the coat like a fan across me. “You said, ‘Just throw on a coat and let’s go!’ So I did!”
“He looked up at the ceiling of the car and said, still laughing, “Lord! What am I going to do with this woman you gave me?”
“No! No! No! That’s the same thing Adam said in the garden and that was his fault, too! I did exactly what you told me to do! From now on don’t hurry me!”
And he hasn’t! If I want to wear a coat out now, he wants to see a hemline dangling out from under it!