An upset woman during Christmas east humble pie.
|I was looking forward to the following party. What kind of gift would I have as my white elephant exchange the next time around? The following party I went to was a bit more pleasant. The smiles were not so superficial and the talking subjects were more to my liking. I met an old high school acquaintance named Don. He did not change much except for a few facial wrinkles. We talked about the good old days when we used to goof of in class and get in trouble. We reminisced about other past situation over two glasses of champagne. Then our conversation was stopped by a person calling for a toast.
“May I have everyone’s attention? I’d just like to thank all of you for coming to the party. As you know, we have a white elephant exchange. Before that though I’d like to put into remembrance the late Gene Trusdell who passed from pneumonia only eight months ago. May we have a moment of silence please?” There was a short two minute pause than the man spoke up again. “Gene Trusdell was a man of generous heart. He touched each of our lives in some way; financially, emotionally, spiritually. It is my honor to be called the caretaker of his estate. He was like a brother to me.” He began to choke up but then refrained. “May this party commemorate and honor his name.”
Everyone clapped, some with tears. Don spoke up. “Remember that time when I had back surgery and could not afford it and Gene paid for the whole thing?”
I looked down at my black slippers and sighed. “Yes. I also recall how talked to me about the Bible and stuff when I went through my divorce. He was so comforting. Its’ funny how all his friends were regular middle class people like everyone here.”
There was silence for a few moments then Don spoke up. “I love your blue dress, it matches your gloves.” I smiled and pulled a few strands of black hair from my face and looked at him with my emerald green eyes.
“So what kind of thing do you think you’ll end up getting?” he said.
“I’m kind of hoping for anything better than a plaque.”
“Oh my gosh!” Don said laughing. “Well, you know what they say; it’s the thought that counts…which in your case was not much.” He laughed once more.
“It would be really good if I could get something worthwhile like a necklace or a box of chocolate.”
“I’m vouching for a game for my PS4. I have a few friends here who know I have one,” Don replied. “Whoever has John as an exchanger will be very lucky. Just look at the size his house and the decorations. I would not be surprised if he gave someone a gold ring.” He finished.
Next came the snacks that the butlers came out with. Everyone was impressed with the selection of food: oysters, real crab meat, caviar, shrimp; you name it.
“I wonder where the stuffed pig is,” Don joked. “This is all pretty high scale for us average Joes. It’s overwhelming.”
“Wow, all this food must cost over a thousand dollars!” I exclaimed.
Then someone caught my eye. It was her! But how did she get here?
“What’s the matter Sue? You looked disturbed like you just fell prey to a nasty practical joke.
“That’s her,” I spoke through clenched teeth. “The one who gave me the can opener.”
“Hmm…Santa must not be too happy with you this year. Have you done something bad?”
“I’m serious, this really irks me.”
“How about I get us some drinks Sue?”
Don walked to the bartender who was friendly and vibrant. “Hey pal. What can I get you?” he said with a smile.”
“Shakin’ or stirred? I’m sorry, that is probably a cliché joke from someone like me. It never gets old though. My name is Buck.”
“Is this the first time you’ve served here?”
“Oh no, I was friends with him like everyone else here. He is the one who hired me. “
“That woman over there,” Do said pointing to the lady who gave Sue the plaque “who is she?”
“Her name is Lisa. She used to be on welfare and almost got evicted from her apartment until Gene rescued her.”
“Who invited her?” Don asked
“Before Gene died, he promised that he would take care of her and that she would be allowed to any activities he held.”
Don thought about how Sue would react. There would surely be guilt.
Don walked back to Sue and bluntly told her the news. “She’s’ poor. The woman who gave you the plaque is poor”
Never before had I felt so guilty and sick with myself. I was ashamed. I felt I could cry; for her or for myself or both.
God must have been in the midst of the party because I got the same poor woman as my white elephant exchange. But what struck me the most was the gift she gave me this time; a small Bible with “Jesus loves you” written on a strap. I was choking up and all could do was hug her tightly.