Sunday, February 24, 2013

The curious day my dad didn't die

Patrick Pastula, 58, died Monday after a well-fought battle with a heart arrhythmia. Pat’s
doctor said, “We always knew that non-fatal heart murmur was going to be the end of him.” He
paused, and added, “I guess.”

He is survived by his wife and two daughters, but not the family dog, who Pat despised.

When asked how she felt about her husband’s death, recently widowed Jill Pastula responded,
“I feel like I just won a million dollars!” referring to the life insurance policy she recently cashed
in. When the Pastulas’ insurance agent and family friend Ron Scholl heard the news, he stated,
“I feel like I’m going to vomit.”

The day’s events began with a phone call, or it would have, had the Pastulas’ daughter Adrienne
answered the phone. Since she is living alone while her mother and father vacation in Florida,
she has been fearful of having to answer the question, “When will your parents be back?” and reveal her unprotected status. Pat and Jill were not scheduled to return to their home at 343 Hillsdale
Street until March 7. Adrienne works at the Hillsdale Community Hospital from 3:30pm to
11:30pm on a casual schedule, and usually returns home around midnight to sleep in the northeast corner of the house.

The early phone call at 7:00 AM would have been unusual if not for the profession of
telemarketing. Adrienne chocked it up to an overzealous telemarketer, but after the eighth ring,
the thought did cross her mind that it may be someone trying desperately to reach the family.
However, she decided against answering the call because “the bed was cozy.”

Adrienne was subsequently reawakened by a knocking at the door. Still believing telemarketers
were to blame for the morning annoyances, she decided it was a kid wanting to make $20
for ten minutes of snow shoveling work, something she is capable of doing herself due to her
abnormally large biceps.

However, the knocker would not leave unacknowledged. Adrienne peered out her window and
noticed a familiar looking vehicle in the driveway: a red Chevrolet belonging to family friend Dan
English, a counselor at Hillsdale High School.

To Adrienne, this was a dream come true in the worst way possible. For reasons not subject to logic,
Adrienne had always imagined hearing her dad’s death from Mr. English at an odd hour of the

Adrienne opened the door for Mr. English and noticed a series of tracks in the driveway due to
his anxious pacing. He answered the door with a worried look on his face and a cell phone held
to his ear. It is at this point, she reported, she knew something was amiss.

Mr. English asked Adrienne if she had heard from her parents recently, to which she responded
“No” in a more cheerful and non-grieving manner than he expected. Mr. English, who intended
to receive answers from her, now realizes he had unwittingly positioned himself to tell this
woman-child of as-yet-unknown-emotional-reactivity level the news of her father’s passing.

Adrienne, noticing Mr. English’s discomfort, formulated a frantic jumbled prayer only God could
decipher with the basic gist of “Please don’t let any of what Mr. English is about to say be true”
and told Mr. English with overcompensating cheeriness, “No, please, tell me, it’s fine.”

Mr. English paused and responded, “Adrienne, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but your father is
dead. I heard it from Mrs. VanOrman at [Hillsdale High] school who heard it from a ‘reliable
source’. Is there someone we can call to find out?”

Adrienne immediately dialed her mother’s cell phone, who answered on the fourth ring.

“Hello!” Jill answered brightly, perhaps too brightly for someone whose husband had just died,
Adrienne speculated.

Adrienne nonchalantly asked, ”How’s it going down in Florida?” instead of asking directly, “MR

Jill replied, “The sun is shining, I’m about to go out for a run; all in all a great day so far. Why,
what are you calling about?”

Adrienne then told her of the rumor circulating the halls of Hillsdale High School of her dad’s
death. This, coming as news to Jill, responded that Pat was in bed sleeping, but if someone in
Hillsdale said otherwise, perhaps he wasn’t actually sleeping.

Jill checked on her husband and verified his liveliness. This news caused Mr. English to clutch his
chest and subsequently die with relief.

When Pat was asked how he felt about the matter, he said, “I’m retired, not dead.”

Update: At this time, the ‘reliable source’ has not been identified, although it has been
speculated to be Hillsdale hooligan Jerry Rumler.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The first time the Bible made me laugh

I remember the first time the Bible made me laugh.
I was at PAC Camp (Presbyterian Activiites Camp, though technically I suppose it's called "Presbyterian Activities Camp Camp") zoning out in the pews during Bible time. I was around the age of eight and I hated Bible time. The room reeked of reverence and the stained glass windows reminded me of the Catholic masses I was forced to attend each week. I didn't like that our counselors called this place the Sanctuary. Outside playing the Parachute game was a sanctuary. That place was breezy and exciting and made me feel like I was running under a rainbow. This place, however, was a fun-sucking prison.
I love church camp, as long as it's run by Reverend Rainbow.
But this year was different. That's because this year, a man named Doug Rutledge was our speaker. Doug was about 40-years-old with curly brown hair, a goofy smile, and a wedding ring. What?! He can't be that holy if he's married. He took his place at the sanctuary steps and addressed the room of third graders.
"Did you guys know that the Bible is funny?"
"No!" We responded loudly. Everyone knows that, Doug. Wouldn't that be illegal anyway?
"Seriously?" He said, chuckling. "Have you guys ever read the Bible?"
"Um, yes!" We said defiantly. We go to PAC Camp, of course we've read the Bible. But we were all wondering, Have we read the Bible? Wouldn't we have noticed a joke in there if we had?
"Well I think it's hilarious," he said. Then, he flipped open his Bible to Judges 3 and began to tell us the story of the morbidly obese king who changed my life.

"The Israelites were under the rule of King Eglon for eighteen years, and they were fed up with him. So, God sent Ehud to deliver them from King Eglon's rule15. Keep in mind that King Eglon is very fat. This is important. It's actually the way the Bible introduces King Eglon. It says, ‘Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man17’ Isn't that sad? What if that's how someone introduced you? 'This is Doug; look at how fat he is! That's really all you need to remember about Doug.'
"So, Ehud gathered some gifts and a posse to carry it, and strapped a double-edged sword to his thigh under his clothing16. Luckily Ehud's clothing was very loose, so the guards did not notice that there was a two-and-a-half foot long killing machine attached to his leg. This is why we now have airport security.
"Whatcha got under there?"
Just two and a half of these delicious sandwiches....
"Ehud presented the tribute to the king, and sent the carriers on their way18. Since the king now had his delightful presents, he didn't need Ehud anymore. But to stay a while longer, Ehud said, ‘I have a secret message for you19That got his attention.
"'Leave us!' King Eglon demanded, and his attendants immediately exited the room20.'
               "Ehud approached the king's throne and said, 'I have a message from God for you.21' Which is exciting. Who wouldn't want to have a personal message from the Lord Almighty?
"Eglon eagerly waited his super secret message, entertaining the possibilities. Eglon, you are just the nicest, or, Eglon, I'm going to make it rain grapes tomorrow; just an FYI. While Eglon was preparing for the news, Ehud whipped out his "secret message" and stabbed him in the stomach with it21!  Surprise!

"Then the Bible goes into great detail describing Eglon's guts. Listen up; if it's in the Bible, it must be important: 'His bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it.22’  Guys, that's gross. He's so fat, you could lose a 2 ½ foot-long sword in his body.
"Then, Ehud escaped out the back door and locked it behind him.
“After Ehud had left, the servants went to check on their king, but the back door was locked. 
“He must be relieving himself,24' they guessed awkwardly.
“The servants waited to the point of embarrassment25. The king has been in there for a long time, supposedly taking the largest poop of his life, but it was still plausible. "Where's King Eglon?" Just in the bathroom. He's fat, so, ya know…
“After waiting for many minutes in an uncomfortable tizzy and tapping their sandals for ages, they finally mustered up the nerve to go check on their toilet-bound king, only to find him dead. 
“Guys, that's a crappy way to die.”

After that, Bible became my favorite time of day, even better than when I was pretending to be attacked by sharks in the Parachute game.

Have you ever read a Bible story that made you laugh?

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