The day I witnessed a most unlikely intervention.
It’s interesting how a memory can serve as a springboard to other potpourris of happenstance. I really don’t know what spurred this memory to spring forth from the vault.
But it did.
I remember the battle.
I remember in vivid detail the horrors of my fight with the most nefarious legume the world has to offer.
I remember well my struggle with the dreaded poison pill known as…
The Lima bean.
Here’s how it all went down folks.
During brush arbor revival times my dad, a minister, would be invited to attend as a visiting soul collector. These brush arbor revivals routinely sprouted up in Texas towns with names like Jermyn, Bryson, Graham, Perrin and Graford.
It was a religious Field of Dreams.
Build the brush arbor, fill the seats and harvesters of souls like my father and others will come.
I hated being forced to attend those revivals, but I loved taking it on the road.
Yes, I said it.
I loved visiting those towns. I loved it because they all had one thing in common.
Each one of those towns were in close proximity to Jacksboro Texas.
You’re probably thinking yes and? Stay with me here.
The Green Frog Restaurant is in Jacksboro Texas.
Whether we were going to or coming from a revival we always stopped at The Green Frog In Jacksboro Texas.
So did a lot of parishioners from most of the churches.
It was a congregational culinary haven.
Each time we ate at The Green Frog my parents let me order my favorite meal — fried shrimp and fries — replete with all the tartar and ketchup I wanted. It was awesome. I couldn’t get enough.
So much so, each year I yearned to hear the announcement we were embarking on another traveling salvation show.
Green Frog here I come!
Then one day it all changed.
My mother and father decided I needed to eat healthy; have less fried food. Instead of letting me have my shrimp and fries they ordered for me. They told the waitress to bring me the special, Swiss steak, mashed potatoes and, and — I’m cringing as I type this — Lima beans.
Even to this day I don’t think they were interested in my health.
I believe it was all about money. The special was cheaper. To feed me, their human garbage disposal, took a serious chunk of change.
Plus, they took a hit in the clothing department as well. I was growing as corpulent as the Michelin Man.
That day, I sat dejected, picking at my steak, my cheek propped on my fist as I took my first apprehensive bite.
Okay, not too bad. I could deal with the steak and my relationship with mashed potatoes went way back so I set about ravishing the steak and the potatoes first.
The thing about eating what you like first is eventually you have to deal with the beast on the plate.
Up until that day I’d never had Lima beans so I shrugged my shoulders, heaped a pile of them on my fork and delivered the package.
It’s hard to swallow and puke at the same time, but I’m telling you folks I somehow managed.
“Oh heck no,” I told myself. I put my fork down hoping and praying my parents would cut me some slack.
Hoping they would overlook the fact I wasn’t eating those nasty, foul tasting droppings of Satan.
Uh, nope. No such luck.
My dad leaned over and whispered, “eat the beans Buster.”
I shook my head.
“Eat the beans or I’ll take you outside.”
I picked up the fork, speared three beans and made it halfway to my mouth before I gagged and heaved at the thought.
“That’s it,” my dad muttered as he yanked me from the chair.
Being a man of his word, uh threat, he pulled me out of the restaurant and dragged me across the street to the sidewalk side of some parked cars. Then he commenced to whip me with his hand until my butt caught fire and I began to cry.
He released me and said, “Okay straighten up. We’re going back in there and you’re going to eat those beans. You understand?”
I nodded and tried to hold back another set of tears.
“If you don’t I’m going to drag you out here and whip you again.”
Again, I nodded in silence.
But it wasn’t affirmation I was going to eat the beans. It was me resigning myself to my fate. It was me coming to grips with the fact I was going to take another beating.
My nod was an outward show of an internal realization.
I was about to have a really bad afternoon.
We sat back down.
My father stared at me.
I picked up my fork and scooped up some of the beans.
He watched and waited.
I stared at the fork.
He continued to stare at me in silence.
I put the fork down and glared at him in defiance as if to say okay pops let’s get this over with.
My father leaned forward and wrapped his hand around my arm as I tried to steel myself for the next beating.
Then the most wonderful intervention happened.
God sent an angel, a blessed angel, to save me.
Her name was Mrs. Gladys Purnell.
Mrs. Gladys attended church in Loving Jean.
The church where my dad served as pastor.
Mrs. Gladys taught Sunday school.
Mrs. Gladys just happened to be eating at The Green Frog the same time we were.
She tapped my father on his shoulder and said, “Brother Barnett don’t you think you should eat those beans on your plate before you whip your son because he hasn’t eaten his?”
My dad released his grip on me, stared at his plate then smiled at Mrs. Gladys.
“Yes ma’am, you’re right,” my dad replied, a forced grin plastered on his face.
He looked at me then raised his hand and signaled the waitress. When she stepped over my father said, “we’ll take our check now please.”
Both my father and I left The Green Frog that day without eating our Lima beans. We both learned a lesson as well.
I suppose my father learned if you’re going to talk the talk you better learn to walk the walk.
I learned God’s angels sometimes come to you when you least expect it.
And sometimes they’re disguised as a wizened old Sunday school teacher.
Almost thirty years later I ate at The Green Frog in Jacksboro Texas. I bet you folks can guess what I had.
More important, I bet you can guess what I didn’t have.
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