Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mennonite Curiosity



As George attempted to explain the meaning of bear with me, with no success whatsoever, there was a knock at the door. On his way to answer the door, he pulled his fingers through his hair again. I could tell he was so frustrated that he was tempted to swear. I could almost see the F’s flying around above his head but he was trying so hard to keep it under control around me.

He opened the door and it was Bree. She was all happy and in a good mood. She had a new piercing again, this time on her tongue.  As George was making dinner, Bree and I looked through his CDs and I found my favorite one: Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. I had heard a few of the songs on my alarm clock radio and I loved them. I had planned to buy that CD after I bought a VCR.

She asked if I would like to listen to that one and I said, “Yes!” She put it on. George came into the living room with a beer for Bree. He looked surprised that I had chosen that CD.

“I figured you would only listen to, church music or something,” George said.

Bree rolled her eyes, shook her head at him and said, “George, you shouldn’t always say what you think.”

“Ahh shit, I know, sorry Anna. Okay, let’s eat!” He said.

He made Mr. Doodles with cheese whiz and hot dog slices in it. George said, “This is my favorite, I hope you like it.”

Bree gave him a really strange look and said, “Really, George? This is your favorite? That’s bullshit.”

He just smiled and grabbed his fork. I bowed my head and put my hands together and in my head said the High German prayer that I memorized when I was two or three years old. When I was finished, I looked up and caught them looking at each other and then looking at me. I felt really awkward.

It reminded me of when I was little and our neighbour’s kids in Mexico used to come over to play house. We would all sit around a little table to have, pretend faspa. My sisters and I would say our prayer and because they didn’t know what to do, they just counted to ten in Spanish. They only knew a few words of Low German and they spoke Spanish because their dad was native Mexican.

Bree asked, “What language do you say it in and how often do you say it?”

George looked at Bree and shook his head.

I told him that it was okay and I would try my best to explain it. I said, “But I think it is going to go just like earlier when you tried to explain the meaning of, how to bear with someone!”

Bree gave George a strange look again. They both started laughing and then Bree asked, “What are you talking about, Anna?”

“I have no idea,” I answered and began telling her that I say a prayer before and after a meal, when I go to bed, and when I wake up in the morning.  I say them all in High German. I knew all four by memory ever since I could remember and that it was something I had done my whole life.

Bree asked, “So you don’t tell God how you feel or about a thing that you wish for? You tell him the same thing every time you pray?”

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“Yes, I think so. Well, all four of them are different. The one I say before a meal is different from the one I say after a meal,” I answered.

“So you speak Low German and High German?” Bree asked.

“Well, sort of. Where I grew up, we spoke Low German but all the books that we learned from, like the Bible, the Testament, the catechism, prayer and song books, were written in High German,” I answered.

Bree slowly rolled her eyes toward George to look at him without turning her head and he just smiled and said, “Okay, that’s enough questions for now. Let’s eat.”  Bree was so confused and curious and I could tell she had a lot more questions.   

I grabbed my fork and took a bite but I had a really hard time swallowing it. 

“It’s okay, Anna. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it,” George said.

I told him it was good but I just wasn’t that hungry. I took a few more really small bites but I just couldn’t eat any more. It was the grossest food I had ever tasted. I would never tell him that but it didn’t help that the knot-in-my-stomach feeling was coming back again.

I got up and said, “I am gonna go home. Maybe Hilary will call me to say I can come back to work soon.” 

Bree rolled her eyes again and said, “You are still waiting for him to call you? Anna, you shouldn’t be working. You should be going to school.” 

I wondered how her eyes were still in her head after all that eye-rolling she did in such a short period of time.

I said, “No, I really want to work so I can buy a VCR and that CD that is playing right now.”

George said, “You know what, Anna? I can make you a tape of that CD if you like it so much. I will do it tonight and you can come over in the morning and pick it up. I’m not going to work tomorrow. I have to leave to go to court at eleven so, if you come between nine and ten, it will be ready.”

Bree rolled her eyes again and said, “Really, George, you are going to make her a tape?”

“Yes! Yes, I am! What’s wrong with that?”

She laughed and said, “Oh, George, you are such a weirdo.” 

I wondered what the heck weirdo meant? But I wasn’t even going to ask. By that time, I had gotten a big headache from all that learning.

While walking through the hallway to my apartment, I was thinking how nice it was to know Bree and George. They made me laugh and kept my mind off the fact that I didn’t have a job again, at least for a little while. I just had to smile when I thought of them. I felt happy.

When I got home I had one message but it was not from Hilary. It was from Mark but I forced myself to just think about the fun time I had that night while I was getting ready for bed. Click here to continue reading my story.

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