Saturday, March 28, 2009


Okay, most of you know I turned 60 this past August, so, yeah, I'm OLDER than rocks! But it's odd, the older I get the keener my memory in terms of "far away and long ago". The short term stuff, now, that's another story. ~grins~ Anyway...I've been thinking a lot about my childhood lately and what a little nerd I was; in fact, 'NERDLING' is what I'd term it. I've decided I'm going to confess to a few stupid things I did as a kid. You can be on the lookout for more "chapters" in the life of this nerdling in the days to come, but for now---Part 1.


I was ten-years-old. My girlfriend Cindy and I were bored on this particular sizzling hot summer day--and cranky, to boot. She wanted to play baseball with the boys, I wanted to swing. She wanted to race around the house, I wanted to play "Go to the Head of the Class". We couldn't agree. Finally, I hit upon an idea I thought she'd go for. Exploring the BIG woods across the road. (IT WAS ONE OF OUR FAVORITE PASTTIMES.) But it was a no-go, probably because she just felt like being contrary. So, mouth set in a stubborn line, I pulled back my shoulders and said something like, "Well, okay for you! I'm going to play in the woods. GOOD BYE!" And off I marched, leaving her to watch my back as she sat scribbling in the dirt in her front yard.

When you're ten, the woods can seem like a hauntingly dark place, even mid-day--with the tall oaks and pines blocking the sun's rays, sassafras and ferns so thick you can't see the ground, mosquitos playing havoc on your bare arms and legs, owls sitting on their high perches glaring down at you like you are out to rob them of their prey. My resolve to have fun exploring all by myself quickly dissipated, so I devised a plan for going back to the house--without looking like a wimp (and the nerdling I was). I could say I'd--I'd seen a bear! yes! At the time it seemed like a sensible plan.

I came bounding down the well-trodden path, screaming and shouting, putting on my most frightened look. Cindy jumped up and came running. (Just the effect I'd been hoping to achieve.) "What's wrong?" she asked.

"I saw a bear!" I squawked. "A big, black, scary bear. He growled and showed me his teeth."

Her eyes were big as pie shells. My sense of satisfaction grew tenfold. "How tall was he?" she asked.

"This big." I held my flat palm four feet from the ground.

Her eyes grew wider yet. "Wowwwwww." But then the worst happened.

My 16-year-old brother came sauntering out of the house.

I tried to stop her, but Cindy raced over to my brother. "Dick, Dick, Shar saw a bear!" she screamed.

He gave me that sideways look that translates to, "You little nerd", but then he probed me with those eyes, and how could I swallow my pride and admit my lie in front of Cindy? So. My lie grew until I had my brother believing it.

Next thing I knew, Dick and my other brother, Jared, and a couple of neighbor boys (all teens) --and Cindy, of course, all followed me out to the "SPOT" where I'd seen the bear. As it turns out I pointed at an old dead stump at the bottom of the hill. We all ran down, me the least enthusiastic of the bunch, and squatted down to "investigate" the mossy area. Sure enough, the boys saw footprints, figured out that old bear had been gnawing on the stump--even found a clearing where it looked like he'd been basking in a patch of sun. Oh, dear, the imagination is sometimes a wonderful, lovely, horrible thing.

Well, before long, news of this neighborhood bear spread like fire, flapping tongues fanning the flames of deceit --- my deceit. Dad came home from his factory job, crawled out of his old blue Ford, and headed for the front door, metal lunch pail in hand. As you probably guessed, it didn't take long for Dick and Jared to announce my findings. Dad questioned me, but now I was in so deep I couldn't figure out how to crawl out of the dark hole I'd dug. So, out to the woods we went --- again. (I'm trying to remember where my mother was in all of this, probably buried in laundry that day and completely unaware.)

Dad bent down to sift through the mossy dirt and said, "Yep, yep. Bears have been known to inhabit these parts. It's just not often we see 'em. So, he was big, eh?" he asked, looking me straight in the eyes.

It's much harder lying to the man who brought you into the world, but believe it or not, I managed.

A couple of days went by, and news of the bear sighting faded...BUT my conscience grew to outlandish proportions, stealing my appetite, my sleep, and my joy. The day finally came when I KNEW I had to 'fess up. It was either that or shrivel up and die. I felt that miserable.

I still remember tapping on the back of my dad's newspaper, my heart pounding out of my cotton shirt, and saying I needed to tell him something. To this day I think he sensed it coming because he swallowed down a heavy breath, lowered the paper, leveled me with those keen grey/blue eyes, and waited for me to speak.

And here's the good news. He forgave me. Set me on his lap and talked to me about the dangers of lying--how one lie leads to the next to the next to the next, and so on. You know the routine. And then he told me how much God loved me and wanted me for His own. I didn't give my heart to Jesus that day, didn't for another seven or so years, but it set me on the road to thinking about God's love and forgiveness, paving the way that much more.

Oh, and what about my brothers and Cindy? Well, I had to confess to them, of course. I barely remember how my brothers took it. I think they were mad and probably embarrassed to think they'd been duped.

Cindy, though, well, she just shrugged her shoulders and said, "I never did believe it anyway." Ha! That girl lies like a rug!