Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Strong Rose Walled City

            “Well, Alfred, as a fancy dinner out, that was a complete flop,” said Mother.  We won’t go there again!”

            “We certainly won’t, Mother,” said Alfred.  “You just can’t tell what you are going to get.  They should have called it ‘One-and-Half Forks’”.

            “Or perhaps, ‘The Gristle and Fat,’” added Mother.

            “It reminds me, Mother, of that time when we rode on horseback into Petra in Jordan.  On the strength of travel advertisements and photos we endured a long dusty bus trip from Amman, through the foothills and deserts of Jordan, all the way to Petra.”

            “I remember,” said Mother, “when we arrived we were met by Arab horse wranglers, and rode through that marvelous canyon, just like Indiana Jones in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, into Petra, the strong rose walled city.”

            “Yes, Mother, and when we emerged from the canyon there was that magnificent rose colored stone façade before us and the cliff wall bathed in warm sunlight.  Do you remember, Mother that when we entered in through the doorway there was nothing behind the façade but a small rectangular room with unadorned stone walls?  It was all façade!”

            “All that way on a hot stuffy bus with only one stop at a dirty Arab bathroom!” exclaimed Mother.”

            “Or,” said Alfred, “it was like the time we went to the Opera at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome only to find that the Opera was Carmen in French, and the family sitting behind us was breathing fumes of raw garlic like a blue fog over us.”

            Mother laughed, “In the intermission the hawkers were going up and down the aisles crying, ‘Aranciata, Birra, Coca Cola.”

            “Sometimes, Mother, I worry about façades.  Ima Hatchett seemed like such a pleasant woman on the surface, but she caused a lot of commotion in the choir.  So many of us throw up smoke screens to prevent others from seeing us.”

            “I was thinking of Ima the other day, Alfred.  She must be a very unhappy person.”

            “On the other hand, Mother, regard Agnes Findlay.  Now there’s a woman with very little pretense,” said Alfred.  “She is a very efficient housekeeper and also a very talented cook, but she certainly can speak her mind.  Why just the other day she said to me, ‘Colonel, it may be none of my business, but those Special Reserve Churchill Cigars you smoke can’t be good for your health.’  I was quite taken aback, I can tell you, and didn’t know what to say.  After all one doesn’t expect people to comment on things like that.  Then she said, “I had such trouble getting the smell out of your desk chair.  I can’t imagine what it’s doing to your lungs.’  Well, she might be right.  If she didn’t have a fine Scottish accent and roll her ‘R’s’ so impressively, I wouldn’t have put up with it.  I’ll have to think about it.”

            “Oh, Alfred,” said Mother, “She certainly put the wind up me when I talked with her about Christian faith.  I haven’t yet recovered.”

            “Well, Mother, it’s been a long day,” said Alfred, hanging his double breasted navy blue blazer over a dining room chair.  How about sharing a small glass of Bols Oude Genever with me along with a plate of Edam cheese and fruit?”

            “I would like that Alfred,” said Mother picking up Alfred’s blazer from the back of the chair and hanging it in the closet.

 “But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me” (Psalm 26:11).   

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