Sunday, November 2, 2008
The Shoes, the Bag, and Black Coffee
When I left the workplace and embraced writing, I vowed to spend less. Okay, much, much less. I repeated to moi my frequent admonition to my kids, “We’ll scrimp on everything but food and books."
For my personal things, I deliberately stayed away from expensive shops and visited only flea markets.
But came the ides of March. In a show window, a beautiful, beige fabric bag (purse) with matching shoes caught my eye. I drooled. Somehow, the gravity shifted from under me to inside the store. The saleslady said, “Ma’am, they’re on special sale—20% off.” Hmmm . . . It would still cost me an arm and a leg, but I closed my eyes and mumbled the famous last words, “Just this once.”
I ignored the verse I had memorized to help me ward off the shopping bug: Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."
I took care of these beige items like the devout would the Holy Grail. I’d wear them only on special occasions.
Tony and I bring JR to a very early seminar at TESDA.
“After dropping off JR, let’s have breakfast somewhere,” Tony says. It promises to be a special, relaxing day after weeks of running around. It deserves a special bag and shoes.
I carefully place my bag on the seat beside me so I can watch it as I eat while Tony reads the morning paper. Then the rock of my life turns the page—and wham! His hand hits his coffee cup and the coffee spills down the table to my special bag!
In seconds, my treasure gets bathed in black coffee. I jerk it up. And the pool of black coffee drips down to one shoe! I have no energy to cry. Or even gasp.
The waiter immediately replaces the coffee. And my voice resurrects, “Will he replace my shoes and bag too?”
I wiggle my toes in my wet shoe and carry my dripping bag, both properly stained, to Tony’s office where I wash them with soap and water. Tony offers a box of the miracle product, baking soda. But a miracle doesn’t take place.
My shoe and bag story doesn’t end happily ever after.
I recite from memory the verse above and replace the words moth, rust and thieves with black coffee.
Live and learn, they say.
Live by grace, I say.