Roger Miller Corrupted My Soul

5 03 2008

In last Sunday morning’s message, I ruminated about an old childhood friend that I lost track of after elementary school.  His name was Charlie.

Charlie and I were best buds.  We’d walk down the hall with our arms around each other’s neck in that innocent time when it was OK for boys to do that.  We loved playing Hawaii 5-0.  Because of his dark hair, he was McGarrett; I always played hawaii 5-0 McGarret and DanoDano.  I loved booking ’em.  Even when they didn’t want to be booked.  Not everyone on the playground was privy to the fact that they’d just starred in an episode of H50. 

When weather was bad out, we preferred to stay inside to listen to records.  So, we faked parental permission slips.  As I look back on it now, I’m quite certain that my childish penmanship fooled no-one.  But for whatever reason, they let Charlie and me get away with it.  So we would listen to his favorite artist – Roger Miller.  We got a real kick out of singing along with “Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug, makes you wanna holler heidy-ho, burns your tummy doncha know, chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug.”  Then there was our opportunity to almost cuss plus participate in a violent scenario.  We’d sing along, “Dang me, dang me, they ought to take a rope and hang me…”. 

“You Can’t Roller Skate In a Buffalo Herd”, “My Uncle Used To Love Me But She Died”, and then there was the roger millerpenultimate classic.  “Trailers for sale or rent,” we sang while happily snapping along.  “Rooms to let, fifty cents.”  Except, we didn’t know what “to let” meant, so we sang, “Rooms and toilet, fifty cents.”  And boy did we ever feel like the quintessential bad-boy when we got to the line we sang with gusto, “Ain’t got to CIG-ER-ETTES!”.  James Dean was never so cool.

Yes, our souls were corrupted by Roger Miller’s musical musings. 

One day, while outside at recess, we discovered that those white, powdery rocks could write on the red brick of the school.  Charlie had just decided that he was in love with the fetching young Sharla Gorman (name changed to protect the no longer innocent).  Keep in mind that this wasn’t the testosterone, sex-tinged lust we were about to discover as teens.  This was the innocent elementary school-yard type of boy-and-girl “go together” curiosity.  We were beginning to figure out that girls weren’t so bad after all.  And since boys always know just what it takes to win a girl’s heart, we decided to declare our love on the school walls.  “I love Sharla Gorman” we wrote with those chalky rocks.  In years ahead, I would come to regard Sharla as something of a skank.  Even that assessment has eased with age. 

Mt. Healthy elementary schoolSo it happened that Charlie and I got into trouble.  It seems that since spray paint graffiti had yet to come into vogue, we had just committed a horrendous offense.  It was a crime that would wash away with a garden hose or a vigorous rainfall.  Nevertheless, we were required to write a note to our parents explaining how we had gone to the dark side.  I was more embarrassed to tell them that I’d proclaimed my love for a girl than anything else. 

And so those days have gone by me now.  I can still tell you Charlie’s middle name, but I have no idea whatever became of him.  We laughed together, fought crime together, sang Roger Miller songs together, and even fought each other from time to time.

In some ways I’ve grown up, in others I’m still there at Mt. Healthy Elementary running across the playground shooting a 2-finger gun as we used to be able to do.  For any of us to still be the same person we were as children would be, for the most part, unappealing.  What once was innocent and playful is now unproductive and immature.  We have a special disdain for those who still live childishly in their own little pretend world.  The same goes for those who claim to follow Christ.  We forget that grace is three dimensional.  We really like the part about how grace has saved us.  But we tend to dismiss the fact that we are given grace so we can live grace-filled lives.  Grace is not a child’s virtue.  It is the mark of an adult becoming a more realized and loving person.  There is no scriptural indication that salvation is a one-time, non-influential event.  Rather, knowing Christ means walking with Christ.  The dynamic of the New Testament is action, forward movement. 

While I would love to sit and reminisce with Charlie some day, I’d be content to keep it at that.  In the same way, we must always remember the day we decided to accept God’s calling in our heart, but never be content to stay a spiritual child.  That would be a true shame.  You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you’ve a mind to.

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