I fell off my bike. I did not immediately check for bruises or broken bones. Instead, I did what any sensible person would do: I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my clumsiness. No one had, so it was not a bad fall. But then I had to do the difficult thing at my age and get to a standing position. Of course, no one came to my assistance since there was no one around. I was happy about that.
As I was paying for a green tomato at the weekly Amish market, I asked Annie, who collects the money, if she had ever eaten a fried green tomato. She hesitated but then replied, “Yes.” I said, “Just one?” She answered, “There are better foods.” “Like what?” I asked. “Just about anything,” she responded.
I chatted with Amos before getting into my car. He asked where I lived, and I said that while I had a summer home in Pennsylvania, I had lived in Brooklyn for a long time. “City slicker,” he said with a smile. I asked if he had ever been to a city. He said only the outskirts and mentioned some New Jersey suburbs of New York. Even so, he was quite sure that he did not like cities: “Too much hustle and bustle. Too much activity. Too much rushing.” He told me that Annie was his sister and that she was eighteen and that he was sixteen. Helping Annie was a younger girl. Amos said that Emma was also a sister. He paused and looked as though he were adding and subtracting but couldn’t be sure of his calculations. Finally he said, “Emma is about twelve.”
Annie is a schoolteacher in her community’s one-room schoolhouse. She teaches in English. “It is required.” “Do you speak German at home?” I asked. “Pennsylvania Dutch.”
On the second half of the two-hour car trip, I scanned for radio stations. I stopped on one that was playing some sort of rock-style ballads. The music stopped, and a recorded voice said that there was good news. The man said that just because bad things happened, it did not mean you were a bad person and being punished by God. “Remember, Jesus was poor and suffered, too.” Although there is an assumption that Jesus did not have wealth, I don’t think anything in the Bible says that he was poor. Certainly nothing indicates that he had the distended belly of the malnourished. The announcer said that listeners should not assume they were bad people if they got a bad diagnosis or prognosis. Jesus, he again reminded us, went through bad things. Ya think? There was that crucifixion thing, but I am not aware that he was told that he had cancer or gall bladder disease.
This inspirational message was followed by five minutes of commercials. Pastor Wiggins in the last one stated that he was crossing the street, when a car turned onto Fourth Avenue without looking and nearly sent the religious man to Kingdom Come. He was put into an induced coma and suffered brain damage. After he got out of the hospital, a parishioner told Wiggins about this wonderful lawyer, who, for Wiggins’s medical expenses and pain and suffering, got him MONEY. The attorney was apparently a Gift from God that others could benefit from.
“Trust in God, her mother said, but never dance in a small boat.” Paulette Jiles, Simon the Fiddler.