I don’t stand in the checkout line and say, “I can count money because my third grade teacher Mrs. Bell taught me to do it this way.”
My brain stores millions of skills in neural pathways then reproduces those skills as naturally as breathing. Each function happens without giving credit to my parents, dozens of teachers, and hundreds of books. Good thing it’s subconscious because I’d fail miserably if I had to acknowledge each source. Only my life changing moments are remembered in vivid detail.
I have one memory of one fact learned in high school. I was sitting in the second floor classroom of the back wing at Collins High. My desk was to the right of the teacher, the side with the windows. I sat on the front row of three semicircles, third seat from the end. On this day, my teacher sat behind his desk in the middle of the room in front of an unused blackboard. A single textbook, Intro to Psychology, rested unopened on the desk.
I don’t remember Mr. Morris ever giving a test. He assigned reading and then he chatted about whatever popped into his head. Everyone loved him.
“Women can make men do anything they want!”
In that hour, he gave the girls the tools to make life fun. He warned the boys that they didn’t stand a chance. I left class motivated to put the lesson to daily practice.
There’s a scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Maria taught her daughter Toula the same truth. Frustrated Toula cried, “Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. ‘Ah, the man is the head of the house!’”
The wise mother responded, “Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.”
Then the movie went on to teach a wise method to use this power. Maria instructed, “We must let Kosta think this was his idea.”
The scene that follows was brilliant. In a few short lines, Kosta exclaimed his brilliant plan, in the exact words Maria had guided him to discover. The bewildered Toula stared at the satisfied Maria while Kosta patted himself on the back for such genius. Everyone was happy. No one got hurt in the process only because this was a scripted movie. Life is not so easy.
Since the Garden of Eden this truth is undeniable. I offer two reasons. One, men are visually stimulated. Adam looked at his deliciously naked Eve with the juices of that forbidden fruit still on her lips and he chose to rebel with her. For this reason, the porn industry is a growing multi-billion dollar evil in our society.
But there’s another reason, we are by nature a stiff-necked people and will always rebel against a law from outside us. We don’t like being told what to do. Yet, like Maria proved, we joyfully embrace the same law springing up from within us.
Here’s how it works, take a stiff-necked woman who is selfishly wanting to rule over the man to get something to satisfy her lust and then have that same motivation controlling an equally selfish man who doesn’t want to be dominated and only wants to satisfy his lust of her body and well, you soon have domestic violence and divorce. Everyone gets hurt.
But suppose this stiff-necked couple learn a higher truth. What would happen if they let the Almighty, loving, unselfish God take possession of their necks, their heads, and their wills?
A passerby would think nothing of the girl on a swing; long hair sweeping the ground, toes pointing to the stars, as she swooped back and forth; if it weren’t well past midnight. The lone human pendulum slowed to a standstill in the creamy moonlight. The rusted red-and-white candy striped swingset stood between the farmhouse and a grove of citrus in bloom. On the manicured lawn between the house and the girl lay a stuffed backpack.
He said she should leave everything behind.
Charlotte stood, clenching the chains, a figurine frozen in the warm night. For this moment, time stood still. It was as if creation held its breath, watched, and then collectively exhaled. The fresh tangy breeze blew blond locks across her face and rattled the chains; she shuddered. Then ran. She darted toward her house, grabbed the bag, and then fled in the opposite direction. She refused to stop running until she reached the end of the dirt driveway. With one short glance over her shoulder, she adjusted the bag on her back, and headed toward their meeting place. It was time.
He said he would be waiting in the parking lot behind the football stadium. Last night her freshman Red Devils lost to the Tigers of Redwood High. Charlotte hadn’t watched the game. Instead she had searched the lot for his red Mustang and roamed the stands, hoping he had come early. Now hours later, her family asleep in their beds, Charlotte sat crouched inside the ticket booth waiting for her prince.
Robert was the image that woke her each morning, the motivation for each heartbeat. He wasn’t imaginary; he was her secret life. They met on a neighbor’s computer. Charlotte offered free babysitting in exchange for time with her best friend, confidant, and boyfriend. She felt sure her parents would never know; their ancient computer was just one step above an abacus. Her dad always said, “Smart phones and fast computers made people dumber; it was the devil’s plan.” Because of the devil’s schemes in fashion and fun, Charlotte was the school outcast. But now, she’ll be the talk of the town. It was her turn to shine.
A distant engine invaded her thoughts. Two beams of light searched the emptiness for her. She peeked above the counter as the sports car slowed to a stop, a man leapt out, with arms outstretched, declared, “Your savior, riding in a red horse, as promised.”
Charlotte gasped and giggled; it came out more like a snort.
“Well, come out here and let me see my princess.” He opened the creaking half door. For the first time, he was flesh and bone not dreams or digital images.
Robert flashed an approving smile, “Hmmm, you are a looker.” His eyes rested on her breasts. Charlotte crossed her arms; her budding body frightened her, and opened her to teasing. She waited for the usual, “Elsie, can I milk your udders?”
Instead, Robert opened the car door for her. “Come on Charli, let’s get going.”
He used her father’s pet name. He remembered. Charlotte’s right foot moved forward but the left ankle, twisted in a shoulder strap, held her firm. She stumbled into his arms.
“Hey, what’s this? I told you I’d take care of everything you’d need.”
Charlotte scooped up the bag and hugged it close to her chest. She took a step backward. “It’s only a change and my toothbrush.”
“Did you bring your phone?”
“Yeah, right. Like my dad would let me have a phone.”
Robert smiled. “Well, then. Let’s get on the road. We have a long drive.”