No two days were ever alike in the Oak Street Bible Shop. We would learn something or unlearn something each time we met. Our common ground was the Bible and truths about the Christian walk., but one morning we learned a little about one another.
It was a brisk morning with little fits of wind and rain to add to the misery some people felt on such gray days. Others, Glen in particular, thought such days were perfect. He would sometimes comment, “It is a perfect, rainy day, but the weatherman says there is a threat that it might clear up later on.You have to enjoy them while you can” he said, “old man sun will come out and spoil everything.”
Enjoying it was just what Glen was doing, seated on the folding chair by the coffee urn table. He was drinking black coffee, but had placed a can of Constant Comment tea bags by the urn as a hint to Joy, He had become such a fixture at the shop that the woman known as “the Crab” once said ,“Don’t you have a home?”
“Yes, Ma’am” Glen replied, “and I love it here.”Sue was at the front window wiping the condensation off with a dish towel. Joy was sitting on the stool, head bent over, reading The Bible Cookbook. Gary was preparing to emboss some Bible covers for a customer who had called the order in. He had turned on the machine and was waiting for it to warm up.
“You know what I think of on days like this?” asked Sue.
Gary couldn’t resist a movie reference,” Singin’ in the Rain with Gene Kelley?”
“No, silly, she said, “I think of how much fun it is to be in the kitchen on a chilly, gloomy, day and baking something. I think of food.”
Joy ignored her. She couldn’t imagine Sue cooking anything, she was too much of a China Doll, she used to say, just an impractical dreamer. She might manage some Brown and Serve rolls, maybe something made with Bisquick, but that’s all.
I think Sue was aware of what people thought of her, if they even bothered. She sensed that she had an unrealistic view of herself. “You are an idealist, Sue”, her mother had told her, “only this is not an ideal world.” But she persisted in her dreams, and although she saw the world from a rather detached vantage point, her insights could sometimes be quite telling.
“Sometimes I see people that way too”, she said.“What way is that, Sue?”, Glen stopped making notes in his little notebook.“Oh, sometimes I think of people as food”. Joy, closed her book, and looked up. It was no use trying to read with this monologue going on. She felt Sue was an immature child, but her perspective was all her own, and sometimes she could capture your imagination and pull you into despite your best efforts to resist.
“Food!” she exclaimed.”You didn’t have any cannibals in your background did you?” Sue explained, “Not food really, but flavors. Each person I know has a different flavor. One of my old lady teachers was cinnamon, I remember that. And our principal was a scorched ironing board cover!”
Glen was intrigued, “I’ve never heard it put that way before, Sue. I think of people as having different kinds of auras, I guess you could call them, some are judgemental, some are all lovey, don’t know which is worse. But I never thought of them as flavors.” This was too much for Joy. She would let Sue drift around only so long, then she would try to pop her balloon, and bring her down. “So what flavors are we” she asked in a demanding voice and waving a finger around the room. Sue was thinking, “Well, you are definitely licorice, Joy. Not the red kind, but old fashioned black licorice!”
Joy had a pained expression on her face, her dark, piercing eyes glared at Sue. “You’re giving me a licorice look right now, Joy. I mean, you have such a strong personality, people either love you or hate you.”
Joy looked accusingly at her, “And what about you, which is it with you?”
“At first, I ...” Sue hesitated, then said, “Well, you are an acquired taste.”
She turned to Gary, “Now Gary, I think of you as stew. Plain old fashioned stew, different things, mixed in together, no one outstanding flavor, but good.” Gary’s expression showed he was not happy being described as stew.
Sue sensed this and tried to console him. “When I first knew you I thought you were cottage cheese.” Glen was waiting for his description. “Glen, you are a big smoked ham! You make a great sandwich, thin sliced, with a leaf of crunchy lettuce, on whole wheat bread.” “With mayonnaise?” asked Glen.
“Sometimes mayonnaise” said Sue, “but more often mustard”.
Glen smiled at that. “What about you, Sue, what flavor are you?” Sue got a far away look in her eyes. “I used to want to be angel food cake” she said. Then she put her hands up over her face and giggled. “But now I think I’m just a pot of navy beans.”