I got an email from a reader last week in response to this post about the WWII vet that was lost. It said, "Country Girl, you are a modern-day Mother Teresa."
I about spewed out my latte, cause nothing could be farther from the truth. And I feel like maybe I have misguided you on my benevolence. Maybe I have lead you to believe better about me than what I am. Maybe I want you to believe who I WANNA BE instead of who I REALLY AM.
And I started to think back on my life....my getting-longer-by-the-second life...and I thought about my good days and I thought about my bad -- the times I came up short -- and honestly it was quite disappointing. The latter outnumbered the former by many, many events.
But one event stuck out more than any other. One I just could not shake.
I met Chip my freshman year of high school. Chip was a special needs students who was "mainstreamed" with the rest of the kids for choir. And when our seating assignments were made, Chip and I were side-by side.
Throughout the year, Chip and I looked out for one another. I made sure he knew what song we were singing. He made sure I knew EVERY item on the menu at lunch - right down to my milk choices. Seriously.
We were kinda two peas in a pod. And while our only interaction was during the one hour a day we were in choir, we began to bond. By Fall Break Chip was calling my name across the hall in an unusually loud decibel level.
And by Christmas he was calling me a couple nights a week so he could recite all the new Mork and Mindy lines he had memorized that week. And honestly, I enjoyed our little chats.
But soon the jokes around school were that Country Girl and Chip were going out. And while it made my face turn ten shades of red, Chip always responded with class saying, "Nah, CG is too purty to be my girlfriend." (HELLO! Do I need to repost the pics? Don't make me do it.)
I never once returned the favor of defending him. Not once.
By Spring Break, Chip was helping me pick out my lunch choices, trying to talk me into the country fried steak and sitting at the table beside me and my girlfriends. I was encouraging him to try out for the solo for the spring concert. In which he did, and MADE IT. And I finally did try that nasty old country fried steak only to realize Chip was right, gravy does make everything better.
And then. It happened. A moment that defined my selfish self.
Chip came into choir again and began to tell me all about last night's Mork and Mindy reruns and avoiding eye contact as always. He then went into the longest run-on sentence, even for Chip.
It went something like this, "And Mork's foot started ringing and Mindy bent down to push the button and pulled a note off. She asked what it was and Mork said it must be a footnote. Oh that Mork is funny. Yeah, yeah he sure is funny. Your choices are meatloaf with mashed potatoes with or without gravy and green beans with a hot roll and a pat of butter or Italian spaghetti with applesauce, green beans and a hot roll with a pat or butter. Followed by jello and apple juice, whole, 2%, or chocolate milk. Prom is coming up. I am gonna get a tux. You wanna go with me? I think you should get the meatloaf."
I did not miss a beat. "A footnote? Chip, that is so funny and I am so proud that you got that play on words. The meatloaf??? Are you serious? You could break a window with that meatloaf! Even gravy could not help it! I am so going for the spaghetti. Is it meatballs or meat sauce?"
Of course he knew, "Meat sauce."
And then class started.
Chip called twice that week. Never mentioned prom. Never mentioned the invite. Never mentioned my avoidance.
Prom was one week away. I was invited by a Junior and I accepted. Never once thinking back to Chip. Not once. NOT ONCE!
Choir class started like normal that week. But then at the end of class Friday, Chip leaned over and in his extremely high decibel level voice asked, "So did you think about going to prom with me?"
Everyone's eyes were right on me.
"Oh Chip, I did. But I am already accepted an invite from someone else. But I will give ya a dance if I see ya."
"It's ok. I wouldn't go with me either."
That is what he said. That is the way I made him feel.
I went to prom with that Junior instead of Chip. Chip never came. Stayed home and watched Mork and Mindy reruns. I looked for him all night. But I never called. Never said yes. Never checked on him. Never mentioned him.
I saw him the next week in choir and he let me know my daily menu choices. Never offering his suggestions, unless I asked. We never brought up prom. Never brought up how I must have made him feel. And he never blamed me or held a grudge.
He still gave me my menu choices every day for the rest of the year. Still called to tell me about the reruns of Mork and Mindy. Still defended me in the hall if anyone teased me. Still believed the best about me, even when I did not deserve it.
If you want a modern-day Mother Teresa, call Chip.