Before I begin, a quick note: If you read this and think that I am telling a story about you, please know that this story is not judging you . . . it’s about revealing my weakness of character. You are only the means I use to reveal much more about me. So relax and enjoy.
Not long ago, and relatively not too far away, I was visiting the home of some fairly normal people. Before the visit, in fact, I thought they were actually very normal – well, I guess if I ignored the fact that they once lived in a city with a population of 100, 000 other normal people. Something happened though, and they chose to move to a city of 7,000. After a few years of drinking the water there, they decided to escape that bustling metropolis and move again to another town of 2,000 people. But other than that, they were really pretty mainstream.
It was then that they told me that they had recently started buying a special fruit basket every other week. I think this was some sort of ‘farmer’s market’ variation where they order a basket of fruit and vegetables online, and show up at a designated parking lot on a certain day and time, and pick up their produce. Except that it doesn’t actually come with a basket – they have to bring a box or a trunk or a covered wagon or whatever they use in their tiny town to put their food into and transport it home. And the other thing – they really don’t know what they are going to get when they sign up. They find out when they show up to pick it up. Which brings up the other great feature of this program: they ended up with more variety and quantity of fruit and vegetables then they know what to do with.
A quick aside: Does anyone know any good recipes for kohl rabi or mooli radish that I can pass along to them?
Finally, they claimed that this was the best thing they had done in a long time. They were saving so much money on their food budget, and they were trying new things that they wouldn’t have otherwise and didn’t believe they would ever enjoy.
The proud and haughty skeptic in me slowly turned off and tuned out with each testimonial they offered. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll just go to the grocery store and buy my salty, fatty, pre-packaged foods, thank you very much. This sounds like some far-fetched multi-level-marketing thing to me. I already signed up for the U-Check grocery store scam, and that didn’t exactly work out. I’m not signing on to go to a parking lot to meet a basket case with fruit.
This, I hastily decided, was simply too bizarre and unbelievable.
Some days later, with a calmer mind prevailing, I was thinking of this experience again. I even ventured to look at the website for a moment. Not that I was going to sign up for myself, mind you… so that I could, out of love and concern, research and understand what kind of crop-circle cult these good people I know where now part of. That’s when the little voice in my head that sometimes speaks inconvenient truths spoke to me: “Some people think that some of the things that I do are unconventional too.”
“No!” I immediately argued back with myself – of which, I might call attention to, holding conversations with oneself is not eccentric. Then I found myself quoting Doctor Otto Scratchansniff of the Animaniacs: “That’s not normal! I know normal!” But the voice inside began citing examples anyway.
First, I hit myself with the thought: “I wake up early on Sunday morning, and spend a good 8 or 9 hours at Church every Sunday.” Now, wait a minute – three of those hours are part of the regular worship service. Wait, three hours for the worship service? That’s not exactly normal for most people. The rest of the time is spent in volunteer service acting as the clerk for the congregation. Uh, huh, normal boy, keep talking… because everyone else in the nation gets up early on Sunday mornings to devote that kind of time on a volunteer basis. Once a quarter, I take a turn cleaning the Church too. Most recently I scrubbed the toilets and mopped floors while the rest of my family took care of cleaning windows and chalkboards, and vacuuming halls and floors. Odd!
Alright, so I’m not winning the argument of normalcy with my church attendance patterns. What else have I got? The inner voice responded next by quoting lyrics from the great boy band “Sons of Provo”:
“People tell me ‘That’s funny to give a tenth of all your money.’
But I do it no regret, cause of all the blessings that I get.”
Admittedly, the fact alone that I am singing songs to myself by Sons of Provo might earn me a label in the categories of both bizarre and creepy. But giving a tithe to the Lord makes perfect sense to me. He gave me everything anyway, and it is a simple test of my faith to see if I am willing to part with a portion of what is His anyway. That’s perfectly normal. Uh, huh. In your world, sure. But in that world of 100,000 people your friends used to live around, not so much.
How much debt do you have, normal boy? Um, that’s kind of personal, don’t you think? We are the same person, aren’t we? True. So how much debt have you got? I’ve got the house payment, which we have been trying to pay down extra principle payments to take care of that as quickly as possible (maybe we can stay on track to even have our 30 year loan paid off in 15). The cars are paid for. The credit cards are zero. And there is a little bit of savings in the bank for an emergency. You call that normal? How many of your neighbors can claim that? I doubt very many of them. That’s what I thought, Mr. Dave Ramsey.
What about your alcohol consumption? None. Tea? I once had some homemade peppermint tea that my dad brewed up. I see. Coffee? Interesting that you should bring that up… on my visits to South Carolina with work, I carry around a cup of ice cubes to get going in the morning, while everyone else has coffee. I smiled and thought that was … amusing. (this time my inner voice didn’t say anything – just nodded and smiled as if I was proving his point for him).
Alright, alright. So buying and eating healthy fruits and vegetables is normal and wonderful to them. I’ll admit it… it seemed unusual to my perspective, but it is not all that strange. Happy now?
The voice didn’t respond. I think I was punishing myself with the silence.
OK, I’ll apologize to them for rolling my eyes at the dinner table when they brought it up.
Fine! Where on this website do I enter my blasted credit card?