Seeing and listening to him laugh always made me laugh – and hard… He had tears in his eyes from laughing so hard as he was telling the story about a guy he served with while in the military. After he finished telling the story, he jutted his lower jaw line out, mouth open slightly and used the back of his wrist to wipe the moisture from both eye sockets while still laughing.
I was talking in class, too much I guess, when my fourth-grade science teacher yelled at me to turn around and be quiet or shut up, I can’t remember. No one seemed too worried about being politically correct in those days… What I do remember was her telling me to “Wipe that smile off your face!” I didn’t hesitate. It was too late, the story was already part of me and it was no longer thinking at that point, I was on auto pilot… even though I had no idea what that meant at the time.
I’m sure my eye flashed a mischievous twinkle as I looked at my teacher and smiled bigger, “I said wipe that smile off your face!!!” She demanded in pure fury. I had her. She was mad, just like the officer was in the story my dad told of the guy that was equal to his ranking of private at the time.
To me, it seemed like a good idea. I mean it was the perfect set up, how could I resist? After all, I was only human. The words and detail of the story were my script and the classroom was my stage. My science teacher glared at me turning shades of red I didn’t know a human could accomplish.
I waited a few more seconds for effect – a glance around the room to both sides taking in the worried and some horrified looks on my fellow fourth-grade student’s faces. I then looked back to the teacher; I thought I could almost see smoke rising from her ears.
At this point I wasn’t even faking a smile, I was on the verge of laughter, knowing what came next in the story my dad had told. I slowly and deliberately moved my right hand up to my face and placed my palm over my mouth… I then slowly dragged my hand and fingers over my mouth exposing as straight a face as I could muster… I had wiped the smile from my face.
The classroom in majority broke out laughing, but not my teacher – no laughter there. She marched a few steps toward me and yelled at the top of her lungs, “GET OUT!!!” As she pointed toward the door… I knew what it meant – I was no stranger to the principal’s office. My teacher had lost the battle, yes, but she had just sent me in retreat toward punishment finishing off her victory of our little war.
The smile on my face was gone – long gone. I knew if my dad found out the disrespect shown, especially using a family story to do it, I’d do more than just lose the war to my teacher, I’d be whipped and put into solitary confinement… the little kid kind…
It’s a tricky world we live in… Even the best and the purest of things given in love or learned in honor can be used to do harm, evil, or just be misrepresented. I find that to be the case with Christians too often. Like undisciplined children, we pick and choose the parts of God’s word along with the stories and tend to use them like hammers… instead of love.
About the laugh? No, no, no… I didn’t get the last laugh after all… Turns out I was the only fourth grader to flunk science that semester…