Dr. James L. Snyder
There are very few things in my life I regret; at least that I can remember.
One of the good things about getting old is that you can forget many things. The important thing is to forget the right thing, which is a challenge. You can be sure I work on this all the time. It takes a really good memory to forget the right things.
What I regret the most is that The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage never met my good old Uncle Fred. If she had met him, she would understand me more than she does today. She would understand why I am as crazy as I am. The problem is, she still would want to try to fix me.
One phrase I remember the most about Uncle Fred is, "I'd rather kiss a goat." I cannot tell you how many times I heard him say this. Where he got this phrase is a mystery to everyone who knew him.
If someone invited him to an activity he did not want to attend, he usually would respond by saying, "I'd rather kiss a goat."
People would smile because nobody had any idea what he was saying.
A friend once asked him, "Fred, will you watch the football game tonight?"
Looking at him as seriously as possible, Fred said, "I'd rather kiss a goat."
Knowing him as I did, he was not antisocial; he just liked to get under people's skin. Everything was a joke to him, and most people did not realize it. So they always took Uncle Fred seriously, which he wanted.
As a teenager, I spent time with him working in his garden one summer. He had a fantasy for garden work. If it could be planted, he would plant it. He had the best garden in the whole neighborhood at the time. Some plants in his garden I could not identify. Years later, much to my dismay, I found what some were, which explained a lot.
While spending time with him, I asked, "Uncle Fred, what do you mean when you say, I would rather kiss a goat? Do you really mean that?"
I had been thinking about this question for a long time, and at this point, I had the opportunity to ask him.
"Well, son," he said rather slowly, "it's a very interesting thing.
I have no idea what it means, and the people I say it to have no idea what I mean." He finished by laughing hysterically.
Then he explained that it was better to confuse people sometimes than try to explain something.
"For instance, if somebody wants you to do something and you don't want to do it but don't want to hurt their feelings, it's best to confuse them. That's where I come in and say, I'd rather kiss a goat."
According to him, he got out of many sticky situations by saying that.
"Just don't tell anybody I said that." He looked at me and then winked. I wondered if he was telling me the truth or just what he wanted me to know.
It was his way of getting along with people he liked but not doing what they wanted him to do.
It was the summer before Uncle Fred died that we had our family reunion. Just about everyone was there, and it was the last one that I got to go to.
Everyone was there except my grandfather. He was Fred's brother. Nobody knew where he was and was concerned because he never missed a family reunion.
Then, out of nowhere, my grandfather drove in, and in his truck was a goat. So he got out of the truck, brought the goat out, walked over to Fred, and said, "How about kissing this goat?"
Of course, Uncle Fred was stunned by the action, and everyone except Uncle Fred broke out in almost uncontrollable laughter.
Only my grandfather could pull one on Uncle Fred. I'm unsure how long it took him to put this kind of plan together, and he surely deserves credit.
I sure do miss Uncle Fred and wish The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage would've had an opportunity to meet him. I'm afraid, though, she might've given him a goat to kiss but not what he had in mind.
Sometimes you don't really appreciate a person until after they're gone. The more I think of Uncle Fred, the more I appreciate his phrase, "I'd rather kiss a goat."
It all came to a head when the other day, The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came into my office and said, "Would you like to go shopping with the girls and me?"
Trying not to smile, I looked at her and said, "I'd rather kiss a goat."
Glaring at me with one of "those glares," she said, "What did you say? Did you just call me a goat?"
Oh boy, do I have some 'splainin' to do?
As I was trying to figure out my defense, I was reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
The most important thing is to understand that God will hold me accountable for every word I speak, even those idle words.
Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone 1-352-216-3025, e-mail [email protected], website www.jamessnyderministries.com.