Summertime Part III: Banana Seat Vengeance

With the ending of summer, I decided to do a series of posts reflecting on what the summer months taught me, that my years in school never could. If you missed the first 2 posts in this series, you can read them by clicking here and here.

 

Matt lived one block over, was 4 years older than me, and made my life, the lives of my friends, and anyone he happened to trip over walking down the aisle of the bus, miserable.  He sat in the back and barked orders to the minions who danced around him ready to do his bidding and execute his judgments against the common people.

I hated Matt.

I used to watch him in action; squeezing my friend Aaron’s neck until he cried and then laughing at him the entire bus ride home. I wondered what his parents were like….if he even had parents. I wondered if he ever cried at night? What made him tick? What made him explode with such fierce anger?  Where did he get all that leather and those AC/DC t-shirts?  

One afternoon, at the start of summer, my older sister and I were arguing,  which transitioned nicely into wrestling. She pinned me to the floor and then finally let me go and stormed off to her room, leaving me fighting back tears as I cursed her name.

I ran outside and stood in the garage, kicking random objects and telling my sister things I could never say to her face.  I kicked the tire of her bike and mumbled, “stupid sister” under my breath. The bike was pink and white, with white handle grips, and pink and white streamers that poured from the ends of the handle bars.  Pink, purple and white polka dots decorated the banana seat and a white plastic-weaved basket sat on the front.

My sister needed to pay….and the bike was right there.

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I ran inside to my parent’s desk drawer found the plastic container, pulled out a couple of items and slipped them in to my pocket.

I stood in front of her bike and stared at the tires. I rehearsed in my mind the crime I was about to commit….I took a deep breath….and knelt down.

Hours later, I was inside watching an episode of The Great Space Coaster when I heard Jennifer screaming. I jumped up and looked around. My dad came running down the steps and looked at me for an explanation. I gave him a look that said, “honestly Father, I too am puzzled by the cries of distress coming from the next room….shall we go inquire about it together?”

We ran outside and into the garage to find my sister kneeling by her bicycle that now had 2 flat tires.  She was crying as my Dad explained to her that the tires could be fixed in a few days.

My Dad looked at me, calculating my response to his gaze so as to determine if I had a part in this injustice.  My look back said, “Oh Papa, surely you don’t believe that I would stoop to such a level and deprive my eldest sister of the joy that comes from riding her bike in the warmth of summer?”

“What did you do??” my sister shouted at me through clenched teeth. “It wasn’t me” I screamed back.” “yeah right!” she said.

And that’s when I played the best card in my hand.   Years of injustice and abuse were about to be made right with just a few words.

“All I know is that I saw Matt walking by our house just a little while ago, and he was staring into the garage.” “Maybe it was Matt.”

“What a jerk” she yelled as she ran into the house crying.  “Who is this Matt kid?” My Dad asked me. I looked at him as if to say, “dearest Father….I am not one to bring accusation against my neighbor unjustly….how can you now ask me to…”

“You are not in trouble, just tell me….”

I spelled his last name slowly and clearly.  “I’m not sure, but I think he lives on Karen Drive” I said.

With that my Dad walked in to the house to find a phone book.

The next day my friends and I were riding our bikes down Karen Drive, and we passed by Matt’s house.  He was outside staring into his mom’s car, holding the light while his Mom’s boyfriend worked on the alternator. He looked up to see who was riding by and I locked eyes with him. Even with a dirty face I could easily make out the dull bruise on the side of his face. He stared at me for a moment, and then looked back down at the alternator.

That summer I learned that while I say I want justice, too often I am perfectly willing to settle for vengeance.  Justice is the long hard earthly fight that ultimately cries out to the God we believe will have the final word and make all things right.  Vengeance is the cheap imitation that is more about me than about making right any wrongs.  Left in my hands, vengeance gives me the power to “win” for the moment even if I must use injustice to do so – be it with the bully on the block or the gossiping, scheming, know it all in the next cubicle.

I never told my sister that I was the thumb tack terrorist until about 15 years later. I guess there is always time to make things right. Matt, I can’t imagine  you are reading this, but I’m sorry….please forgive me….wherever you are.

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I Might be Stealing Cable

“It wasn’t our mistake and if they haven’t corrected the problem yet than that’s NOT our fault!”

That’s the line I was feeding myself this past week….                

Several weeks ago we called to have some problems with our cable checked out. They gave us our “window of opportunity” and we waited for their call and eventual arrival.  The worker was very nice and very fast. He quickly pinpointed the problem, told us what to do next, and flew off to fight bad cable connections in other parts of the city.

To our surprise, we realized when he left that we now had the next “step up” in cable channels. Previously, we had basic cable, which consisted of 7 channels we actually watched, and a few home shopping channels. We were fine with basic cable. We actually felt like we were fighting the system, unplugging from the matrix, and freeing ourselves from the bondage of filth and moral decay on display before us….plus it was cheap!

We assumed that soon the problem would be detected, corrected, and we would go back to basic cable. We decided to enjoy it while we could and waited to have it taken away at any moment.  We gorged ourselves on news shows, kids shows, shows about people in swamps and grandmas who horde things.

The first week passed, and then the second, and then the third….we still had all of the channels. What could this mean? Is this a blessing from God? Could we be more effective in ministry if we went ahead and kept all these channels….you know, for ministry purposes??

Or maybe we were just stealing cable.

This creates quite a dilemma when what you want wrestles to a draw with what you know is right — and you must decide who wins.  You kick and scream and rationalize and make excuses and blame other people.

Seems like every day we encounter all sorts of opportunities to put feet to our beliefs — to truly decide in private what we say is settled in public.

So, we will call the cable company and report THEIR mistake…..tomorrow….I mean right after Thursday’s “must see TV”….fine after the weekend but not a day…..

Okay….I’ll call today.