My preacher reads my blog, which means that I have to watch what I say. Which is a tired old joke that probably grows weary on preachers everywhere. The men are standing around the ballfield watching their kids attempt to be athletes and the preacher walks up.
“Alright boys, watch your mouths. The preacher’s here.”
Like they were telling dirty stories, which they were not, and now they must clean up their act. It’s an age old banter that pretends the preacher is not a regular guy.
Buy my preacher and I are not like that. Our banter is usually more witty. I’m in the middle of talking and some phrase I use causes him to break out into a lyric from Jackson Brown. He is a walking Ktel musical commercial. He can sing one line from all the great album collections of the 70s and 80s. He doesn’t know any song in its entirety, but he can run through the greatest hits of the BeeGees in phrases.
“Order now, and we’ll send a second album for just 99¢.”
He’s from small town Ohio. One of the things we banter about is how we speak. Some of the words we use down here, he finds quaint.
Like the other day, he noticed that I used the word “sashay”, and ribbed me about my impressive antiquated vocabulary. I could hear his chuckle in my head. Who says that? Where are you from? Were you born before the Renaissance Period?
I learned from my Mama that the way a person walks can tell you a lot about them. She was quick to describe the way a person walked and to comment on her interpretation of what that particular stride means.
“Did you see the way Mrs. Jones sashayed into the church on Sunday? She might as well have put a neon sign on her head that said look at me.”
To sashay is to be proud, but in the wrong kind of way. I sashayed one time. And as soon as I did it I was ashamed. What would my Mama think?
Or this. “That boy just saunters around like he ain’t got nothing better to do. I can tell he’s up to no good.”
To saunter is to ramble aimlessly. Anyone who saunters is going nowhere fast. He walks in circles, but always seems to be looking for something. A guy who saunters wanders down to the filling station and hangs out for the day. The next thing you know he’s robbed a liquor store and he’s spending 25 to life at Leavenworth.
Or this. “If you don’t stop moseying around I’m going to light a fire under you. You better get to it.”
To mosey is to be slow, barely dragging one foot in front of the other. It is applied by degenerate people, mostly when there is work to be done. Young boys mosey when the garden needs to be hoed, or the grass needs to be cut. Grown men who mosey at work drive me nuts. They drag around right up until time to punch the time clock, and then, amazingly, they run for the car to leave for home.
The danger is that moseying leads to pittlin’. Which, according to mothers everywhere, is an irreversible character flaw that makes people completely disappear from the face of the earth.
“Whatever happened to that Smith boy? I haven’t seen him in years.”
“I heard he moseyed off to Seattle and pittled his life away. His folks are just grief struck over it.”
Finally this. “Don’t you go traipsing off through those woods and get lost. I don’t want to have to come find you.”
To traipse is to plod along without paying attention to where you are. If you traipse through the woods, evidently there’s a chance you might end up in Kansas and have no idea how you got there. I see folks everyday traipsing around with cell phones in front of their faces who will end up clueless in Topeka.
So, I was taught to pay attention to the way I walk.
My Dad walked with purpose and urgency. When he walked to the barn, there was no messing around. He had learned to march in a straight line at one time in his life. There came a time when he was no longer counting off his steps in his head, but he could not be rid of the cadence that had settled into his feet. The steps just got longer, and as a kid I could barely keep up with him.
It’s a funny thing to assess a person by the way he walks, but there is some truth to be discovered in the gate of a man’s steps. Right or wrong, when I hire a new guy at the farm, I can tell by the way he walks from one task to the next whether or not he is going to last. If he moseys, he won’t be here long.
This is where my Ktel preacher chimes in with an excerpt from Staying Alive.
“You can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk.”
And so the banter continues. Especially, now. The next time I sashay into the church building, he’s, no doubt, going to have some smart comment to make. I would expect no less.