08-30-2011, 07:43 PM
I dozed through the service along with half the congregation, snapping awake at the sound of the church organ playing the recessional. I smothered my yawn, stood up and wiggled my way out of the pew with my folks. We inched our way to the double doors where Reverend Quinlan waited to shake hands with his congregation.
I gave a brief smile and handshake when my turn came. I nearly succeeded in escaping when Dad's hand grabbed my arm and pulled me back. I spun aorund to find myself face to face with those same old biddies who had been trashing Criss before the service.
"Jane," Dad said in a serious tone of voice, "these ladies claim you have been snippy to them before the service. What do you have to say for yourself?"
Instinct told me to say I was sorry, but I was not going to cave in this time. I was right, and they were wrong. I determined to hold my ground this time.
"Snippy?" I echoed. "What do you mean 'snippy'? I told the truth, that's all, and you always taught me to tell the truth."
"You were quite rude to us, young lady, and we demand an apology," said one of the biddies, a huge woman where the sand had run down to the bottom of her hour glass figure.
"Well, you were 'quite rude' about the way you were trashing Criss Angel!" I retorted.
"Jane Marie!" my mother cried out, aghast.
"It's true!" I went on. "Doesn't the Bible say, 'Judge not, lest ye also be judged'?" And what about the parable about the mote and the beam, huh? You're judging him after only one night! You don't know him like I do!"
"Jane, that's enough!" Dad snapped.
"If I should apologize for anything, it's for coming here with a bunch of hypocrites like you! Criss Angel is the best thing that ever happened to this hick town. You're only afraid of him because he's a little different, and a lot more exciting to be around. Instead of trashing him, you should make an effort to get to know him better. You're the ones who insist on being neighborly, so do it!"
With that, I stormed away. There. It was out. I had said what had to be said, backed with a lifetime of frustration stored within my soul. I felt a little heady from that outburst, almost giddy with relief and astonishment that I had gone that far. But there was no turning back for me now. What was done could not be undone.
It was a quiet ride back home after church. Sitting in the back seat, I was awash with emotions: rage, fear, elation, apprehension, pride, and a touch of regret, which I could not help feeling because I had gone against everything I had been brainwashed to believe. I stood up to those whom I had respected--no, not respected, feared--since my earliest childhood, and I knew deep down I would suffer for it somehow. But I was right, I kept telling myself. I was one hundred percent right, and they were wrong. Wrong about Criss, wrong about his magic, wrong about everything! I had defended my opinions as firmly as I could. And I knew that when we got home, I would have to face the consequences for that defiance.
Dad parked the car in the garage, as usual. Mom and I got out of the car and entered the house through the kitchen door, as usual. I headed for my room to change out of my Sunday best while Mom checked on the pot roast, as usual. We sat down to dinner and said grace, as usual. We ate in total silence, which was rather unusual, because Mom would always begin conversation with "Wasn't that a nice sermon, today?", and Dad would always say yes, it was, even though he probably napped through it as I did.
Instead, we kept silent. The tension was killing me. Were they going to yell at me, or what? I thought. Maybe they wern't going to say anything at all. Maybe they'd just let it blow over. No way, I thought. They were just biding their time until I cracked. That was it, I realized. They were punishing me with silence. Okay, then, I'll call their bluff and bide my time, too. Two can play at this game!
Dinner was done, and I helped clear the table, as usual, while Dad sat down with the Sunday paper and the crossword puzzle, as usual. After a few tense minutes, Mom broke the silence.
"Jane, I am very disappointed in you," she said quietly. "You were extremely rude to those nice ladies at church today. You should have apologized to them. You only made things worse for yourself, you know."
"If you heard what they were saying about Criss, you wouldn't think they were so 'nice' as you say," I retorted.
"Well, you should have been more respectful about their opinons," Mom admonished me, "even if they disagreed with yours."
"Lies are not opinions, Mom," I argued. "And when is someone going to respect mine, for that matter? They were wrong, and that's all there is to it. They should apologize to me; better yet, they should apologize to Criss. They had no right to go trashing his reputation like that."
"How were they 'trashing his reputation', hmmm?"
"Well, for one thing," I began, "they just kept going on and on about how he looked, especially his earrings, and how he was a minion of Satan for doing magic, and how he would be a bad influence on the youth of this community, and questioning his sexuality, and he was evil, and so on and so on. But they are wrong on all counts, Mom. You taught me yourself not to judge a book by its cover--well, that's what they were doing. If they met him, they'd realize how wrong they were. And how wrong you are."
"Yes, you. Last night, you drove me to work even after you promised me the car, because you were afraid that the Big Bad Magic Man was going to eat me up or something. Well, you saw the show, and you saw what kind of a man he really was. He's nice, really. You'd like him if you met him personally, if you wern't so afraid of someone being different."
Mom turned to me with an anguished look on her face. "What's come over you, Janey? What happened to the sweet little girl I knew and loved?"
I looked at her squarely in the face. "She grew up." I replied evenly.