Decal

Decal: (n) a specially prepared paper bearing a design for transfer to wood, metal, glass, etc.

 The extra-large was not quite big enough.

It was the story of my adolescent life.

I was always just a little bigger than the size chart proposed, and the clothes-makers made available.

But the guys in the group had their hearts set on these bright yellow-gold, open-front sweaters that we could wear onstage whenever we actually found ourselves onstage, playing our music.

Like most high school bands, we talked and planned more than we set up and performed.

We practiced twice a week—for no gigs.

And every once in a while, we got the itch to buy a stage outfit—for no stages.

I had to admit that the sweater was absolutely one of the coolest things I’d ever seen in my life. It looked great on everybody else—whose bodies aligned in the righteous station of normal.

But it was small on me.

I didn’t care.

I decided to buy it along with the rest of my friends.

And suddenly we were the possessors of the coolest outfit to wear if a stage were ever made available.

Black pants. Black banlon turtlenecks. Gold sweaters.

A mother of one of the guys suggested that we needed some sort of decal on the sweater to set it apart as unique to us.

We didn’t know exactly what she meant, but we nodded in respect. Sensing our confusion, she gathered up the sweaters and said, “Give me a week and I’ll give you a surprise.”

We had no capacity to object.

Two weeks later, she handed us back our golden sweaters—except on the top left panel, near the shoulder, there was a B and a Q decal, which she had embroidered into the cloth.

Since we were called “The Blessings Quartet” it was pretty cool.

Actually, we were all shocked at how neat it looked and how groovy it was, considering it had been made by an adult.

It did not make my sweater fit better.

But to this day I believe that we started getting opportunities to perform because word of our gorgeous sweaters, with the decal, quickly spread throughout the surrounding masses.

 

Afraid

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

 

Afraid: (adj.) feeling fear or anxiety; frightened.

 It was my favorite shirt.

I was nineteen years old and it was during the era of the counter-culture—hippies, rock and roll … well, you know the groove.

It was gray and had embroidered white velvet flowers on it.

I loved it.

It was almost too small for me, so depending on whether I was in one of my puffy weeks or thinning days, I could sit down wearing it with spreading buttons or with more comfort.

I didn’t care. I worshipped it.

I wore it at least five times a week. My criterion for deciding whether to don it in the morning was sniffing under the armpits to ascertain the intensity of its lethal nature.

One day I noticed that some of the threads on the bottom of the shirt had come loose. I didn’t think much about it. I just pulled on them and tore them off. After about two weeks of doing this, I realized that my shirt was no longer shedding threads, but had actually torn and was practically ruined.

At that juncture, somebody pointed out that if I had sewn up the bottom of the shirt instead of pulling on the threads, the problem would have been solved and I would still have my garment. (I continued to wear it in its dilapidated condition until one day I was walking down the street and a guy handed me two dollars, thinking I was homeless…)

The reason I share this story is that being afraid is a lot like being a-frayed.

Our threads come loose and we yank on them, pull at them, deny our feelings and pretend everything is all right until we have no opportunities left and we stand, clothed in unrighteousness.

Yes, afraid is when we refuse to sow up our fears and tie up our worries and instead, allow them to destroy everything we like. And even when we use noble words like “responsibility,” “concern,” “involvement,” “anxious,” or in some cases, even “wondering”—we’re just masking the monster.

I lost the shirt off my back because it was “a-frayed.”

If I become too afraid—well … I can lose my own soul.