Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stewed at a Party

This is one of my favorite stories from "Life is a Buffet So Save Room for Dessert." Enjoy it!

Some years back, Robbie Lee and I lived across the street from an elderly couple with whom we had become great friends. Their names were Ann and Larry, and they were the sweetest couple you could hope to meet. Well, Ann and Larry were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary, and they were nice enough to invite us.

I’m not a party kind of person, but this was such a special occasion that I made an exception and decided to attend. Robbie Lee made up her mind immediately to attend because the party was to include a full buffet, and she never passes up the chance to socialize over hot food or, for that matter, cold food.

“You know, I haven’t a thing to wear to this gala affair,” I said, looking through my closet. “None of these clothes are befitting such a party as this.”

“I’m going to wear something that stretches,” said Robbie Lee, closing her eyes and dreaming of the spread that would be on the table.

“That figures. Well, I’m going shopping to buy me just the right outfit for the party.”

With that, I headed out the door for the mall while Robbie Lee popped another Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie in her mouth. When I returned, I was so pleased to show off my new purchases.

“I found this great cream sweater and this blue skirt. I’m going to wear this along with my pink silk blouse under the sweater. I also bought this great necklace to top it all off. Don’t you just love it?” I held it up in front of the mirror, striking different poses, admiring the sweater and the long necklace together.

“Yeah, boy it’s beautiful, but I still think it’s best to be more practical and go with something that can adapt to a full buffet,” replied Robbie Lee.

On the day of the party, I could hardly wait to wear my new outfit. I showered, did my hair and makeup, and sprayed on my favorite perfume. I slipped the creamy sweater over my pretty pink silk blouse and pulled on my blue skirt. Finally, I draped the long necklace around my neck. I was a vision.

“We best get going. We don’t want to be late!” I yelled.

“I’m ready,” called Robbie Lee from her room. She was wearing her black pants with the elastic waist and a baggy blouse.

“This is going to be a good party,” she said as she stood in front of the mirror pulling the elastic on her pants to see how far it would stretch.

When we arrived at the church hall where the celebration was taking place, there were lots of people already there.

“I hope they haven’t started eating yet,” Robbie Lee said, quickening her pace into the building.

 I chose to stroll into the church hall smiling and waving at some of the people, giving them ample time to see my new clothes, even though I didn’t actually know who they were.

Ann and Larry looked so sweet, holding hands and greeting everyone as they came inside. They had been married fifty years, and they still looked as though they adored one another.

 When I got inside, Robbie Lee and I chatted politely with a few folks until the announcement was made that the buffet was now open.

“Now control yourself, Robbie Lee. Don’t make a pig of yourself. Just get a little of each thing on your plate,” I warned her.

But it was too late. Robbie Lee was already in the buffet line filling up her plate. I just shook my head in disgust, picked up a plate, and waited my turn in line. I politely dipped up a little of each dish, smiling and chatting as I went.

After filling my plate, I decided to go and speak to some of my friends and neighbors seated around the room and show off my new outfit to those who might have missed my grand entrance. I immediately noticed that everyone seemed to be admiring the new clothes. They were talking about my new creamy sweater and especially noticed the necklace. I have such great taste, I thought.

After going around and greeting everyone, I joined Robbie Lee, who was standing in the center of the room, eating her little heart out. As I approached her, Robbie Lee burst into laughter, with her mouth wide open, revealing sweet potatoes and fried chicken. It was a disgusting sight, to say the least.

“May I ask what is so funny? And would you mind not laughing with your mouth full of food. It’s starting to make me ill, for heaven’s sake.”

But Robbie Lee didn’t seem able to control herself. She bent over, screaming with laughter, while trying to balance her food on her plate.

“What is it? Tell me so I can laugh too. Did you hear a good joke?” 

By now I could see everyone was beginning to stare at us. But Robbie Lee couldn’t answer. She could only point to my creamy sweater and howl.

As I looked down to see what was causing all of the hysterics, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My new long necklace had strings of stewed tomatoes hanging from it, and the new creamy sweater was covered in tomato sauce from the necklace swinging back and forth around my neck. Apparently, while reaching across the buffet for a piece of fried chicken, I had dipped my lovely necklace into the stewed tomatoes, which were now hanging in strings around my neck. 

My face began to burn. I went all the way around the room and spoke to folks, I thought. Robbie Lee laughed louder. There were tomatoes hanging from my necklace all the way around the room, and nobody said a word.

Robbie Lee was almost on the floor now. I could feel everyone’s eyes on us as we stood in the center of the room, precariously trying to look normal, with the stewed tomatoes displayed proudly on the front of my brand-new creamy sweater.

Suddenly, as if enough had not already gone wrong, a button popped off from the sleeve of my pretty, pink silk blouse, leaving it dangling wide open. Robbie Lee gasped for air as she watched my perfectly coordinated outfit seemingly fall apart before her eyes.

For a moment we stared at one another, wondering what would happen next, but then we began to howl like hyenas in the center of the room. Tears rolled down our faces as food flew from our mouths.

An elderly lady walked over to us and whispered, “You two seem to be the only ones really enjoying this party. What’s your secret?”

We paused and just looked at each other, then continued to howl. 

This went on for a spell until we both decided it would be best if we just left and returned home. We waved good-bye to Ann and Larry and ran off to the car. 

Driving home, we laughed until we cried. Robbie Lee paused long enough to ask, “Are you going to eat those stewed tomatoes around your neck?” I’m surprised she didn’t rip them off of my neck and start to suck on them.

It was awhile before I could bring myself to attend any more parties. As a matter of fact, it was awhile before I was invited to any more parties. Ann and Larry never mentioned what happened, but I’ve heard that every time Ann sees stewed tomatoes, it reminds her of a story she repeats to her friends and even strangers to this day. At least I learned a valuable lesson about what not to wear to a buffet party. 

LUKE 8:17

“For There Is Nothing Hidden That Will Not Be Disclosed, And Nothing Concealed That Will Not Be Known Or Brought Out In The Open.”

Sometimes no matter how much we plan and no matter how hard we try, things fall apart and the worst side of us is exposed. We tend to let God manage only part of our lives, and we let Him know that we are perfectly capable of handling the other parts ourselves. But sooner or later, our sheltered area begins to fall apart and only then do we offer it up to Christ for his guidance and wisdom. We want God to help us find a new job, but we want to handle who we should marry. We want God to heal our illness, but we want to take care of our addiction to gossip, lying, overspending, etc.

You may think you have things well in hand. You’ve calculated. You’ve scrutinized. You’ve talked to your friends. You’ve listened to your heart. But you haven’t sought out God’s will for this area of your life. Maybe you’re afraid of the answer He’ll give, or maybe you think you shouldn’t burden God with every area of your life. Besides, there are some things you already have figured out and you know what you want. Why should you bother God with them? Because He loves you and wants your whole life and your whole heart, that’s why. He wants us to run everything by Him. What better counselor could you ask for than your Creator? He knows the number of hairs on your head. Why shouldn’t He care about who you marry? Who you date? Your finances? Believe me, He does.

Make it a habit to run all of your decisions by Him. Learn to listen for His voice. Learn to wait on Him. Be patient. Don’t wait until the things you’ve left hidden are exposed. Don’t make your own decisions and then ask God to bless them. Check with Him first. It’s easier than having your buttons pop open in public.

Excerpt from "Life is a Buffet So Save Room for Dessert." Copyright © 2005 By Polly Boyette All Rights Reserved.

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