… You Have to Insist She Put Some Clothes On!
~My experiences with Steve and Babbie during the short encounter I had with them could fill a stand alone volume. Here’s the first of many.
When you pastor a small start-up church, and you yourself are a start-up pastor, you cherish every breathing soul who shows up for a Sunday service. So one day when a brand new family, mom, dad and five young kids arrived, I was dancing for joy. Seven! Seven more people in the congregation. Thank you, Jesus!
As new folks arrive, and before anyone learns their names, minds of the regular folks run toward descriptives: Thirty-somethings. Tall, athletic-looking husband. Beautiful, model-looking wife. That sort of thing. Let me be honest: Babbie was a beautiful woman, but the first descriptive that crossed my mind—and I’m certain, also, the thoughts of most of the regular attenders—had to do with her most prominent feature. Prominent is a good word, too, for she wore her surgically altered physique proudly for the world to see. “Steve and Boobie … er … uh … Babbie. How do you do? I’m Breaster Darin … I mean … Pastor …” Put those things away, lady, before somebody gets hurt!
“Do you suppose we should ask her to wear a little less revealing blouse if they come back next week?” one of the more conservative wives in our congregation wondered aloud, as she watched her husband bounding over pews to make the new family’s acquaintance. Talk about a catalyst for engaging the men in the congregation! I sort of wondered myself what next Sunday would bring. I didn’t need to wait, however. My next eyeful came Tuesday evening.
She phoned, “Pastor Darin? It’s Babbie—do you remember me? Steve and I visited on Sunday.” Did I remember her? Gee, let me think. Thirty or so regulars in the entire place, you and your family of seven were the only guests visiting, and you were but mere threads away from having a major wardrobe malfunction. “Yes, I remember.”
“Pastor I know we’ve only been to the church once, but we really felt at home. We want to join. But the reason I’m calling is that Steve and I are having an argument—nothing too serious, just some communication issues. We’re hoping you might be able to help us sort it out. Could you come over tonight, maybe at eight, after the kids are settled?”
A little after eight I pulled up in front of their home. I noticed their car was running in the driveway, the driver’s door was open, like someone had run back in the house to get something they forgot. As I walked towards the house, Steve came bursting out, an open can of beer in his hand and the rest of the six-pack under his arm. “She’s in there. Good luck making any sense out of it. I’m #$%ing out of here!” He got to the car and turned back. “Preacher!” he yelled, as he tossed a can of beer at me. I caught it defensively. With that he was in the car, slammed the door, dumped it into reverse, squealing the tires as he left. I was standing in this family’s front yard, watching his tail lights disappear, holding a can of Budweiser.
“Thank you for coming,” she appeared in the open door. “Come on in.” I turned to see Babbie, wearing nothing but a skimpy white t-shirt and white underwear. Now I was standing in this family’s front yard, holding a can of Budweiser, and there was a half-naked woman beckoning to me to come inside. I must have been absent the day my professors covered this scenario in Seminary.
From the middle of the front yard I suggested, “You should put some clothes on. And we should get Steve to come back.” Babbie then stepped out the door and walked towards me as she slurred, “I’m wearing clothes. And I’m comfortable. And Steve won’t be back for hours.” You with me so far? I’m standing in this family’s front yard, holding a can of Budweiser, and now the half-naked and drunk lady is ambling out into the front yard towards me. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t covered in Applied Theology class.
I went into retreat mode. Heading for my car I called over my shoulder, “You need to go inside. Call me when Steve comes home. I’ll come back to talk to both of you together.” As I was pulling away she stepped into the street behind my car, shouting after me not to go. Now I’m driving away, a can of beer laying on the passenger seat next to me, and a half-naked, drunk woman stumbling after me down the street. I’m thinking the Seminary owes me a refund.
I am a gentleman. I rounded the block once, just to see that she did actually go back into her house safely—and to be sure she wasn’t laying in someone else’s yard. Assured she was safe, I drove home. When I walked into our house Shari asked, “That was the new family, right? How’d it go?” I cracked open that beer and said, “You won’t believe it if I tell you.”
An excerpt from Sometimes When You Work for the Lord … a memoir of the silly side of pastoral ministry.