Friday, November 10, 2006

The After-Sunday-School Party

“Mary loved the lamb, and the lamb loved Mary. That’s all you need—love!”

Bea notices I have come up to her bedside and asks, “Is there any ice cream left?”

“You want ice cream? At 2:30 a.m.?”

“There are quite a few people who would.” Bea looks around a bit apologetically. “Maybe you need some helpers to distribute the two gallons?”

Welcome to Bea’s After-Sunday-School party! For starters, let’s get situated: we are in Washington DC, at "St. Ruth’s Episcopal Church, just south of the Cathedral.” The children, it seems, have been quite rambunctious.

“The girls behaved so badly. One young man hid under the bed. He just learned that you have to study to get ahead. For some people, it takes a while. I knew all these things when I was about the same age. I was trying to discipline him.” Bea pauses, then adds, “If I wanted to pull someone out from under the bed, how would I go about it?”

“I’m not sure,” I stammer.

“I know everyone here was thought to be very friendly. Sometimes people do things like bring teddy bears. People like to get attention. Some are ideally suited for playing. They feel that it is right to study and then play games, but if you could see the crowd! I would like to know how people are getting home. Some don’t want to go to church. After a while the same people will be interested in David.”


“He is a friend and associate and playmate of the children who attend (these) classes. I was like the little girls today, with ribbons in the hair, and ribbons around the waist, and lots of abilities. The more we see, the more we learn. The more we learn, the more other people like to hear us perform. David was naughty. You cannot very well study mathematics and have someone say ‘I love you.’ Church is a good place to make friendships.”

I repeat this last sentence, just to make sure.

“Yes, write it down, just as you said it. To hold an audience is one of the greatest things in the world. There is going to be music. Did we get a new Victrola? It looks new to me. I wish she had just asked to come up the (church) steps. If they don’t behave, they won’t be invited again. In this school, for the girls, the main thing is sports.”

“Sports? At Sunday school?”

“It’s a special program I’m initiating. Are there any parents we have not telephoned to come and get their kids? …”

It is 3 a.m. Bea had a sleeping pill at 7 p.m., upon her request. She seems to be slowing down a bit, so I administer half an Ativan to help her bring the party to a close ….


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