Monday, November 19, 2007

"Thank You, Howard Wohlgemuth, for Looking the Other Way."

(Warning: This post contains graphic and gross content. If you are squeamish, have a weak constiution, or adore Martha Stewart, then you would be ill-advised to continue reading).

I just suffered a miserable and embarrassing experience that was only spared more embarrassment by the industrious discipline of Howard Wohlgemuth. No pictures accompany this post...and for that, you should be glad.

I was at the church office today, on Main Street. I decided that I wanted to spend some time in prayer and that I would do it while enjoying this wonderful, beautiful, and unseasonably warm day that our Creator has provided. I'm also almost over a cold...but not quite yet, it seems.

Anyway, on the way back from a fairly long walk up to the north part of town, my nose starts to run like Carl Lewis. I had no tissues. I had no handkerchiefs (indeed, I never have those because the very thought of them is quite disgusting to me). There were no convenience stores nearby with a helpful men's room. In short, I was well over a mile from the office with plenty of neighborhoods filled with quaint, Hesston homes to traverse before reaching the safety of a Kleenex.

Of course, my nose cared about none of this. It continued its marathon run and the river had no place to go except in the obvious direction of the earth's gravitational pull. I used leaves. I made friends with several trees and used them to deposit what I could (don't ask how).

I have seen men (usually manly men that are playing professional football or doing construction in below-freezing temperatures) just lean over slightly, cover one nostril, and blow the other out onto the ground. But I had no such recourse. Every time I gathered myself to do such a deed, a sweet little mother on an afternoon run, pushing a stroller with a child cooing softly would be jogging by on the opposite side of the road.

The truly amazing thing is that I almost made it back to the office at a brisk pace without being seen in my most compromising state.


A most unfortunate gentleman on a bike happened to be coming by on his way to the bank. He rode by. Looked at me. I waved.

He didn't wave back.

That was embarrassing enough. But just as I was about to cross the perilous street to the safety of the beloved "Backside" (for those that don't know, that's what we call the youth room which is on the backside of the church office--almost in danger of being dubbed "Chris and Julie's Backside" in honor of the great youth sponsors, a name which was rejected for obvious reasons [the congregational vote was close, I am told]), Howard Wohlgemuth pulled up into a parking spot in his powerful, red truck.

That was when I thought I was doomed. For Bike Guy to see my face in its present condition was bad enough. For someone I knew to see me and to want to say "hi" would be quite disasterous. Such a meeting could have only led Howard to two possible conclusions. First, "our new youth pastor has no shame." Second, "our new youth pastor has a numb face and the poor shlub needs to see the doctor right away."

I slowly crept up to hide behind a blue truck parked on the street. And then Howard did the best thing he could have done at that moment. That wonderful man slid open the side-door to his van and walked inside his flower shop to pick up some botanical arrangements for delivery.

He did it for me.

I ran out from behind the truck. I ran into the church office. I ran into the bathroom and my nose, my face, and my self-image found healing from a roll of delightful toilet paper.

Thank you, Howard Wohlgemuth. Thank you for looking the other way.


Kelly said...

Way to go, John; that was awesome!

John Buerger said...

Thanks, Kelly.

Anonymous said...

that is one awesome story...i must confess...i was laughing pretty hard!

John Buerger said...

Thanks a lot, Katie. Writing about the experience was definitely more fun than having the experience!

Grandma Vonnie said...

I'm just following up on our conversation over Mexican food LAST MONTH. I've been waiting on the promised new post.....and waiting....and waiting...and waiting..and waiting.

John Buerger said...

Grandma Vonnie,

Thank you for the reminder. It has prompted true repentance. Wait no longer, my friend.

Ray & Janell said...

your kidding ... if howie had seen me in that condition he'd never let me live it down!

John Buerger said...

Yeah, I'm not sure I could have lived it down, either. Fortunately, Howard didn't see me. It was like a scene from one of the Bourne movies, or something. I was sneaking up behind a car, watching Howard through the windows. Then, right when I thought he was going to see me, he just turned around and went inside. Then I ran for safety.

Take that, Matt Damon.