The Wetbehindtheears Preacher
The wetbehindtheears preacher from up north
wanted to make inroads early on with his Southern
Presbyterian, but mostly Baptist at heart and surely
in practice not bothering much with theology
country congregation, so he volunteered to
help the boys with chopping tobacco. The dusty,
tobacco stained overalled men with scuffed up,
beaten down Wolverine work boots, deep, deep
down dirty almost up to the first knuckle fingernails
of hands holding super sharp scythes, just looked at
him with smiles on their faces. “Here you go, Rever-
end or can I call you Brother Bob?” as he thrust a sickle,
handle first the preacher’s way. “Brother Bob is fine,
just not Pastor Bob, please,” which he thought a con-
descending, patronizing, contradiction in terms used
by preachers who want to show that they are just
ordinary Joes, but who really hold a position of authority
and holy distinction like Pastor Joe over those in the
pews. “We’re all brothers and sisters in Jesus,” he offered
in a lame attempt by someone who wasn’t very much
like these particular brothers. He didn’t have bib-
overalls much less stained bib-overalls, so he wore
his polyester jogging pants, a tee-shirt from a 10-K
race he had been in up in Bowling Green and a pair
of Brooks running shoes and a Nike sweat band.
“What do you want me to do?” “First thing, watch out
for your toes. Those fancy tennis shoes ain’t gonna offer
much protection.” He watched the brothers cutting down
the plant with one swipe of the blade. “Better yet, give me
back that blade, Brother Bob. You’ll hold this here stick and
when we hand you the cut tobacco, you jam it on the stick
and when the stick is full just hoist it on the frame set up
in the bed of the truck and grab yourself another stick.
Others will be doin’ the same thing so watch out.” Well,
the egalitarian, just-one-of-the-boys brother took the stick
and proceeded to get stuck between rows of hanging tobacco.
Those full sticks were coming fast and furious. “Where’d the
preacher go?” Brother Bob ducked down, crawled underneath
the tobacco and raised up thinking he would joke his way out
and said, “Once I was blind but now I can see,” followed
by “Once I was lost but now I’m found. Tah dah!” as he came
back up on the outside of the tobacco hanging on the stick.
Unfortunately, just as he uttered “Tah dah!” he encountered a
cottering pin sticking out of the corner of the frame and sliced
his skull to the bone and four inches long. The blood of the
lamb spurted everywhere, some landing as far as the door
handle of the house next door. His workday ended after
just four minutes on the job. “Somebody take this young
and innocent brother next door to get a towel.” All the others
kept working. They had to get the tobacco in that night. Head
wrapped in a towel, he drove himself into town looking like a
young, bloody Sikh. “Wasn’t that that new preacher? Sure
doesn’t look like a Presbyterian to me.” a woman said as he
sped by. The men just shook their heads as he left, no one
offering to drive him. The tobacco had to get put up in the barn.
It was Saturday. Sunday, his second with the congregation,
he would have the turban off, but a big, really big patch in its place.
He would stand in his black robe and red face and watch the
sisters dressed in their Sunday best with big smiles on their faces.
The brothers would duck down in the pews trying hard to hold
back laughs and tears streaming down their faces while they
picked at those ever-dirty nails. Brother Bob would ask them
to bow their heads and shut their eyes and wait on the Lord
in silence, emphasizing “silence,” while he would shout the
pastoral prayer over the giggles and guffaws.