Thursday, July 11, 2013

Feeding the Hordes Continues, the Epilogue

I could not let recent happenings go without telling you about them. They have been an incredible thing to experience.

So, when I last talked about this, I told you how miserably I failed at raising money for the Boy Scouts with a pancake breakfast. The morning after only four people showed up to eat pancakes, I woke up early, my face still puffy from crying, and I knew I had to have another plan. I was going to sell my stories. It's not easy for me, but I figured it was time to let these things out into the world and let people read them. I printed a few, almost at random, then I went to church.  The moment someone asked me about the pancake breakfast, I burst into tears. Oh, I hate crying in front of people, but I've known these people for a long time and that helped. I explained what had happened at the breakfast, that the guy who looked like Bruce Willis, the one who Mike and I had originally met with, had called four of his best buddies when it was looking pathetic and they came down and ate pancakes. I told my church friends that I liked the guy who looked like Bruce Willis. They all nodded as I stopped, hitched my breath again and got hold of myself. Then I told them that the Boy Scouts ate pretty well that day too. There were no limits on bacon or pancakes or whipped cream. They laughed with me when I talked about how the boys were filling each other's mouths with whipped cream to see who could whistle first. I told them how I never admitted, until the hours had come to an end, that it wasn't going to turn around and get busy. We all laughed. Pathetic is usually pretty funny, but only in hindsight.

So, I put out a pile of my stories with a basket and the next thing I knew, I had money overflowing the basket. Their generosity was overwhelming. That first week, after buying back ten pounds of bacon and six pounds of sausage for my own freezer, we broke even. I had gotten the pancake fiasco out of the red and into the black.

I edited three more stories and printed copies, surreptitiously dropping them off at the table at church. Nick got excited and asked me to type a story he'd written, a very long story that he was very proud of having written two summers ago. I got to typing and found that he'd done a good job on it and parts of it made me laugh out loud. I burned up the hours in front of my computer screen.

And then, my hard drive died. I hadn't backed up my computer in a while. I'm telling you, it wasn't my best moment. This thing was dead. There would be no resurrection. I had spent hours typing Nick's story and editing my own. I had a stack almost two inches deep, ready to sell. I dried more tears and announced it done. We would sell stories for the Boy Scouts at our town festival, I told Mike.

Then, Mike got on the bandwagon and decided he'd fill the cooler with ice and bottles of water to sell. He told me I should write 'zombie apocalypse ' on rocks in Chinese and sell them. We had a joke that those Chinese characters on mugs and on wall hangings could say anything. Who was to know? What a great idea. And so I did. I even walked down to the river with a heavy-duty grocery bag and hauled up a load of smooth rocks. I spent hours figuring out how to write 'zombie apocalypse' and copying it onto river rocks using a Sharpie. I doodled around the edges. It made me happy to doodle on rocks with a Sharpie. I felt as though I got pretty good at drawing the characters.

So, when the festival arrived, it was suitably hot. Even though people down the street were handing out free bottles of water, people were paying a dollar for ours since they were on ice and maybe also because they liked the Boy Scouts. We had trouble keeping up with the demand, so at the end, some of the bottles we handed out hadn't had time to get ice cold.

At one point, a few Chinese people walked up to our booth and picked up one of my rocks.

"What does it say?" one of them asked politely.

"I hope it says 'zombie apocalypse.' I looked it up online," I said. They laughed. "How did I do?"

"That's good! You only need one line here and that's exactly what it says." They went away smiling. I think they got our joke. I got out my Sharpie and added the one line.

Other people wandered up and asked how my rocks would protect them from a zombie apocalypse.

"They won't!" I told them happily. Kids, mostly boys, held them in their hands and talked to each other. Someone came to take a picture of the rocks and the sign I'd made: Zombie apocalypse. Mike's idea was a good one. They'd never have gotten that much attention from something that said 'peace' or 'love.' The people who took the photo of the rocks bought a copy of Nick's story. Other people bought his story too. He was very excited by it.

I got to asking people walking by, "Want to buy a rock?" It was harder to ask if they wanted to buy my stories, which were buried under Nick's. The interest in these silly rocks was heartening. I had a great time! And we made more money for the troop!

The next day, I went to church again. Someone asked me to repeat my story about the pancake breakfast. Oh, couldn't I leave that one where it ended at the festival? I didn't like the idea of asking for more money when everyone had already been so generous. They insisted, putting a figurative spot light on me during the announcements. I told the story as best as I could. I retold the story of the pancakes, the whipped cream, even the rocks.

Okay, I have to admit it.

I cried all over again. This time they were tears of gratitude.

And people gave more money! What was this strange phenomenon? All I had to do was stand up in church, tell a story, cry tears of true feeling, and they were writing checks to my Boy Scout troop. Maybe I should go to work for Action Against Hunger or something. I mean, our boys certainly weren't hungry, not after the pancakes I fed them. Their problems were really very different than the ones faced by a hungry child. I know that Boy Scouts is a great organization, that it can save a boy who might otherwise have gotten lost. I know that Boy Scouts teaches important skills and encourages a meaningful code of conduct. And yet, it was humbling to contemplate all this generosity.

Last Sunday, when I sat down in a back pew, yet another woman handed me a check for the Boy Scout troop.

A blessing, an almost embarrassing blessing.

Thank you for listening, jb

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