My Grandmother summed it up, better than I ever could have. I was sitting in the kitchen, talking with long time friend, Max, and relating one of my less-than admirable escapades and at the end concluded with the idea that I was a heathen. At this point my Grandmother had entered the kitchen and began to dry a dish.
"Do you think that I’m a heathen, Grandma?" I asked.
"No September," she answered in her usual, kindly fashion. "A heathen doesn’t know God, and so doesn’t know any better. A heretic knows God but chooses not to obey. You’re a heretic, September." She put away the dish, and Max chuckled softly, at her accurate appraisal of the situation.
Despite my rebellious nature, I did my best to appease my grandparents and attend church and did find some peace in the teachings. So, when Heather showed up at youth group that evening of December 21st, wearing a cool green Christmas outfit, I thought my prayers had been answered. As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for- you might get it.
I didn’t waste any time moving in and starting up a conversation. By the end of the evening we had exchanged phone numbers, had plans to go out the next evening and she had invited me over for Christmas with her family. It was surreal. I had set this ideal which, deep down, I wasn’t sure if I could ever attain, but now the timing was right and the pieces were falling into place with a bizarre ease that I could barely fathom.
The date the next night went perfectly. Good food, good conversation- our newfound relationship was hitting on all cylinders. In retrospect, it was too perfect…but love blinds you. I had been hit hard and the only thing I could see was Heather…the vision of perfection, the unattainable that I had somehow attained.
Christmas was slightly awkward because it was my first real introduction to her parents. Still, I considered myself a people person, when I want to be, and worked hard to smooth over any bumps or embarrassing silences. I worked hard to sell myself to her parents. Maybe I oversold myself, but I had a steady job working for Tom Hammond- a prominent member of the Baptist congregation, and a successful business man who had co-founded Stoddard and Hammond- a company that produced the Glas-Air sport airplane. He had since broke off and formed his own company, working on some government contracts and, additionally, producing a line of computer printer tables.
I was working eight to fifteen hour days assembling and shipping printer tables. The company had a lot of room to grow and I felt like I was in on the ground floor. By the end of the evening, I felt that I had made a suitably good impression on her parents. They seemed to accept the fact, that I would be dating their daughter. Heather’s father was tall and lent the impression of scholarly knowledge, with his round glasses pushed up on the bridge of his nose. He was a technical writer; formerly of Hewlett Packard and now with Microsoft- or Microslave, as he fondly referred to the company. His conversational gambits always led in the direction of career and future plans.
Heather’s mother was a still attractive women with short curly ash brown hair of a shade not found in nature, but in a bottle. She was acquainted with my grandparents and wanted to know how they were doing. When she had ascertained that they were well, she asked me about my parents. I could see her considering the ramifications when I informed her that my genetic father had taken off when I was a mere baby, and that I only occasionally saw my mother or step-father. I could see that she was aware of the cycle- a parent behaves a certain way and the child is very likely to follow that pattern. I allayed her fears by dropping the fact that my grandparents had