The year is 1970 and I am sitting in Mr. St. Clair’s 9th grade English class at Rollingcrest Junior High in Hyattsville, Md. Patty Philpott is sitting to my right and I am attentively listening to students give their oral book reports. The book report is easy for me as I have always loved to read. Since the age of 7, reading could transport me out of the house where my father had started paying too much attention to me. My escape was books and Jerry Lewis, and at the time and unbeknownst to me, the Lord. I love all three to the depths of my soul, Christ first.
Anyway, back to 1970 and oral reports. As I watched a classmate give his report, I began feeling nauseated, sweaty and fearful, as though 25 catholic nuns, led by Sister Borromeo from St. Anthony’s Catholic School in northeast D.C., were marching through the door. All 25 nuns were holding torture devices, such as rulers, magic markers and they are rubbing their thumbs and forefingers together as though preparing for a championship cheek pinching and ear twisting contest. Now this is fear with no option of flight. Again, I am digressing.
As I am listening, or attempting to listen, to my classmate speak I drift away until I hear Mr. St. Clair say, “Suzanne, are you prepared to give your report?” Losing all concern for a failing grade, I simply replied, “No”. Those sitting near to me, particularly Miss Patty Philpott, can see the cover of my report neatly printed with, “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo. The room was quiet until a loud and whiny voice said, “But, Mr. St. Clair, Suzanne’s report is right in front of her”. This was not my first involvement in Miss Philpott’s school life and I think my life-long aversion to blond women with bouffant hair, blue eye shadow, and immaculately dressed white women began. Mr. St. Clair said, “Are you prepared?” Despite the huge elephant sitting on my desk, I again replied, “No”. In the pause before Mr. St. Clair called the next student, Miss Philpott looked back and forth between me and the teacher repeatedly, without disturbing a single hair! Miss Philpott was wildly popular and my apologies if she should read this and take offense to my perception of these events.
The previous event indirectly involved Patty Philpott and Dee Dee Catina and her friends. While in PE class Dee Dee and friends had taken Patty’s dress and stuffed it deeply into the Kotex machine in the bathroom. Somehow and within seconds rumor started though out the entire student body that I had ratted Dee Dee to Ms. McCollum our 9th grade PE teacher. I had already learned a healthy fear of authority figures thanks to those misdirected devotees to God and the Catholic Church, starting when I was 5 years old. I would have never approached a teacher! As the day passed, I was told I had to meet Dee Dee Catina in front of the school when classes were over so that Dee Dee could tear my skinny limbs asunder and pull out my considerable mop of frizzy and kinky hair. Just FYI, hair pulling is an important technique as taught in Girl Fighting 101. The fight never occurred thanks to a tiny, but tough dynamo named Delores Richter Shaut, who remains my friend to this day. Delores went down in girl fighting history as a peace negotiator.
You may wonder why this trip down memory lane? Despite a successful 60 year abstinence from public speaking and developing a lack of concern of others’ opinions, I learned last night, “Damn, I’m still that chicken-shit girl from 9th grade”! Last Thursday I had received phone calls from Samantha Bowie of J.G. Wentworth Home Lending and Tessa Wilborne of The BlackFin Real Estate Network to inform me that I was a winner in the FreeTicketsGiveAway founded by NFL Legends and Super Bowl Champions. Later in the day, Gary Clark of NFL fame, 8 year receiver for the Washington Redskins and two time Super Bowl Champion, called me. He is a former member of the infamous Hogs and The Posse, certainly infamous in D.C. He was kind and friendly spending many minutes just talking to me.
Throughout my life I have learned to no longer be concerned about others’ perception of me. I am honest and outspoken, sometime to a fault. I am eccentric and at times and can be very irreverent. People sometimes think that I am….gasp….weird! Sometimes words just fall out of my mouth, totally forgetting my mother’s frequent admonitions, “Jesus Christ, Suzanne, think before you speak”. I can be brash, profanely opinionated and I love to tell one liner dirty jokes. All who know me well know Little Johnny’s response when his teacher asked him to use the word “dictate” in a sentence. I had overcome my fears of what others think of me, until last night. My excitement slowly turned to fear when thinking about being videoed realizing that I would be talking to strangers, people who don’t know my peculiarities.
Yet, when talking about God, I can speak and write without problems because He is guiding me and He is with me. I can reveal very personal events from my life that led me to Him without any problems. He guides my hand as I write and give me words to speak. Earlier today He prompted me to express my feelings in writing. It occurred to me while more than half way through this blog, that I did not have the faith nor ask Him to guide me this time. How very blessed I am to have this opportunity to glorify The Great I Am, God. Last night and this morning I had forgotten, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”. Phillipians 4:13 My earthly fear totally eclipsed my faith! After some thought and hearing His still, small voice, God and I are okay with this earthly mistake. Life is a learning venture, even at 60.
Does God give us opportunities to speak of His love? Absolutely! I inconsiderately texted Mr. Clark at 10:30 this morning, the same time I was supposed to have been there. Mr. Clark was very kind and patient in his texted responses, ultimately telling me, “Not a problem”.
I thank God for the opportunity to still glorify Him. I thank Mr. Gary Clark for his kind and patient nature. To him I own my sincerest apologies. (I thank Patty Philpott too, lol.) And I thank you for your time.