A Unique Personality

The following story, with names changed, was told by one of my students years ago.

When parents remarry, you just never know what you are in for. I met my stepmother eight years ago when my dad brought her over to my grandmother’s house. “Girls,” he said, “tNo teethhis is Marjorie.”  She stuck out her hand and gave a big smile. My sister and I stood, stunned. She only had three teeth.

It had been a while since I had seen Marjorie before my wedding. When she arrived, I kept telling my husband, “There’s something different about her.”  It came to me: she had gotten false teeth.

At the next family event, Marjorie kept raving about the chocolate cake on the table. Moments later Joe came to me sort of chuckling. “What’s happened now?” I asked.

He replied, “Well, your stepmom took out her teeth and she’s chomping on her chocolate cake in the corner.” I thought, okay, this must be just because we’re around family.

Months later we went out to dinner with Dad and Marjorie at a local restaurant. She picked at her food for a while and kept mumbling to my dad. Finally, he said, “I don’t care, just do it.”  Joe and I looked at each other puzzled. Then Marjorie picked up her napkin, placed it over her mouth, pulled her teeth out, and set them on the table. She smiled, all gums, and began to eat her food.

If you’re going to deal with a challenging relationship, you would probably rather deal with a person that doesn’t have any teeth than one who doesn’t have any personality.

[Or you might choose to make your punch line just the opposite, especially in the business world: if you’re dealing with a challenging relationship, perhaps you’d rather have a person with no personality than one with no teeth.]

Some Things in Life Just Can’t Be Explained

I’m sure we have all had experiences we just cannot explain in any rational way. One of the most vivid memories of my life occurred when I was a counselor at Camp Shiloh, a New Jersey camp for disadvantaged boys from New York City.

During every two-week session, each cabin had to spend one night camping out on a secluded hillside about a mile from the cabins. This was my least favorite part of Camp Shiloh because taking a dozen 13-year-old undisciplined boys a mile from civilization with only one other counselor was not a pleasant task for me. But each session I would dutifully take my turn. We would take wood, kindling, hamburgers, drinks, chips and our sleeping bags and have dinner, games, prayer time, and go to bed.

On one of these trips I was awakened on a beautiful moonlit night because of movement nearby. As I opened my eyes I saw a man dressed in white–like what a baker would wear on the job. His arms were folded and he simply stared. I was too frightened to move and, not knowing what to do, I just acted like I was sleeping as he stood there.

After a while, he simply walked away into the night without saying a word.

I checked around the camp personnel to ask if there was a guard that patrolled the area and I was told there was no such person. No cabins or houses were within a mile or more from the camp proper. No one knew who the man in white might have been.

I’m not sure what I think about guardian angels, but that night on the New Jersey hillside I had a visitor for which there is no explanation.