"I need you to be on time...you moron," said a woman in a seminar on interpersonal interactions I attended today.
"Doesn't it sound so much worse with that epitaph on the end?" the instructor agreed.
At lunch I sat on a solitary picnic bench in the sun, in a courtyard bordered by the hotel we were in on two sides and the freeway on the third, and ate a banana and wrote in my notebook. I was about halfway through the other part of my lunch, an apple, when the door opened and a woman joined me.
She was older, white-haired, paisley-blouse-clad, and she was attending a "How to Trade" class that she'd heard about the day before on TV, and since, she said, she was just retired and was living on $730 a month--though that didn't start until June--she thought she'd come and learn about how to make money. She went on to say, "I'm emotionally retarded--people laugh when I say that, but it's true. It's because of the way my mother brought me up," and talked about that and about how her daughter (or step-granddaughter? I wasn't quite clear) yells for everything and how kids living at home after they're eighteen need to follow the rules and learn to be independent and that she cleans up after church and was trying to instruct her new helper using "I" and thought she should be using "you" but she was sure that in other situations my seminar (in which I was told to do the opposite) had the right idea.
She peppered the conversation with comments about Jesus. "Jesus knew what he was doing." "Jesus helped me grow through giving me these circumstances." "Jesus had a plan for me." I had no problem with this (although my understanding was rather that God did more of the planning, but then it's been a while since I've read the Bible) while she was talking about her own faith, but at 12:30 somebody came to tell her the class was starting, and as she prepared to get up she asked me, "Have you accepted Jesus into your life?"
"No," I said, pleasantly.
She said I had better before it was too late, since there was only heaven and hell and there was only one way to heaven, as it was written in John 3:17, "I am the way, the truth, and--"
"--the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," I finished with her as she stood and rounded the table to stand near me.
"You've heard it."
"I've read the Bible."
"But you still haven't taken Jesus into your heart?"
She held up her goblet of water, taken from the hotel (I had one just like it back in the conference room). "I ought to pour this over your head."
She said it pleasantly. I said, in the same tone, "It's warm out; it might feel good."
"What's your reasoning?" she said, coming closer.
I thought about starting a discussion; but I didn't want to, and she was too elderly (which I only mean in the most respectful way) for me to argue with, and her class was starting, and one of the morning lessons had been "Don't argue unless you have something to gain," so I said, "I don't want to get into it."
"I see," she said.
"It was nice to meet you," I said, and she said the same in a somewhat less pleasant tone and went to her class, and I moved to a couch indoors to avoid getting sunburned and finish eating my apple.