Those under age forty have likely been spared one of humanity’s greatest curses: polyester suits. For those who do not know, wearing polyester was like being wrapped in a plastic bag: not only did it irritate the skin, but it didn’t “breathe.” This assured that even in modest heat that the wearer would be a walking greenhouse. Perhaps the garment industry was in collusion with the deodorant industry at the time.
Not only were they painful to wear, but they were also were painful to look at. Someone on Madison Avenue decided that the world needed retina-searing bright colors. So, you got to sweat and go blind at the same time. Now that, is marketing wizardry.
One fine Sunday, our pastor at the time was dressed in a bright blue polyester suit, a bright referee-flag-yellow shirt and a complimentary brightly colored striped tie. He had a reputation as being quite a style maven: shoes always perfectly shined, pants perfectly pleated with a crease as straight as a laser, every hair in place. He cut quite a stylish swath.
Well, being perfectly attired was not going to save him that day. His personality was somewhat lacking in the ability to see humor in life. God was going to give him an opportunity for growth. Unfortunately, he was one of those fellows who seemed to think if something in life was enjoyable, it must be sin.
During the pre-service prayer and worship time, he was using the men’s room that was downstairs, and in the back of the sanctuary. All seemed well after he had taken care of business, as in a stride of perfect decorum, he walked to the front of the church . . . until he turned around to face the congregation.
Not only had he forgotten to zip up his bright blue polyester trousers (a condition which all men can relate), but in high contrast Technicolor, the shirt tail of his referee-yellow-shirt was sticking six inches straight out against the bright blue polyester . . . unbeknownst to him. The good new was: yellow against blue is highly contrastive as designed. The bad news was: it was not meant to contrast in that area.
He was also a “closed-eye-hand-upraised-swayer” in his prayer custom. “Hallelujah, thank-you Jesus,” was coming out of his lips, but his swaying hips and the referee flag were signaling a different message to the congregation.
Like a damp morning fog chills the bone, a shuddering murmur rippled over the congregation. His wife had been playing the grand piano on the platform with her eyes closed. She did not happen to see the advertised flag coming her way as he walked up the aisle toward the front of the church. However, the murmur caused her to open her eyes to try to discern what was disturbing the congregation.
Well, my friend and I debated who was to have the honor of informing the pastor of the delicate situation. I chickened out. My friend went up and whispered in his ear. At this moment, you might think, problem solved. Not quite.
The pastor turned his back to the congregation to privately fix the matter. However in so doing he turned toward the platform where his wife was playing the piano. His wife saw the flag waving at her, like it was signaling a pass interference penalty to 80,000 people, and in a moment of panic, jumped off the piano bench and curled up in a ball, hiding underneath the grand piano and behind the old-school “modesty skirt” that was suspended from the perimeter of the piano. It took considerable coaxing to get her to come out.
One might think that a moment of levity would at least release the tension. Not in this church. The pastor turned back around to face the congregation . . . condition-fixed . . . and acted as if nothing had happened.
His reaction fit his persona. From that day forward, he was somewhat irreverently known as “Pastor Smooth as Silk”: because if that couldn’t loosen him up, and fluster him, nothing could! I suppose being unflappable in the case of the barn door left open comes in handy in that line of work. But somehow, I can’t help but feel an opportunity was missed!
The moral of this TRUE story is:
You will know who your real friends are when they tell you if you have a booger hanging, or if you are unconsciously advertising the maker of your shirt through a portal that normally remains closed.
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