The pastor explained to her that her out-of-control shopping habits weren't just a problem, they were an outright addiction. Fortunately, he told her, there's a simple solution for this in the Bible: “Every time you start trying on a dress in the fitting room,” he advised her, “just say, 'Get thee behind me, Satan!'”
“But preacher, I already do that,” the lady replied. “And he just says, 'Honey, it looks even better from the back...'”
Luckily, shopping for clothes is one of the few addictions I've never been tempted toward. (The lipstick-on-pig principle, and all that.)
This time of year, though, I do a lot of consulting with Old Scratch about used motorcycles.
When he gets behind me he typically says, “Well, the thing needs a little bit of work, but it's really low mileage, and...”
“Wait,” I remind him. “That's the same thing you said about my '81 Honda, and you know how that worked out.”
He always gets this red-faced look like he doesn't remember, and I have to remind him.
“The dark copper-colored one? Four-cylinder, metallic flake?”
“Smoothest bike that God ever made,” Satan tells me. “Pardon my language.”
“Absolutely,” I admit. “Remember what the repair bills were? The mechanic was able to open up a second location, closer to my house.”
“Which came in handy,” he supplies, “after the Honda died and you bought that big red Kawasaki.”
“Maroon,” I correct him. “Metallic flake.”
“Whatever,” Satan says. “But it's your own fault you can't keep a motorcycle running. You don't know how to treat one.”
“I've never in my life turned one over,” I tell him. “And I've never driven a bike more than 60 miles an hour.”
He looks toward the heavens in exasperation. “My point exactly,” he says. “You've got to blow the soot out of a motorcycle, every single day! If you drive one like a granny-woman, the motor just goes to...a bad place.”
“My grandmother only rode with me that one time,” I assure him. “And besides...”
By this time, the person who's got the used bike for sale is either clearing his throat or looking at me funny. Whenever you're selling a used vehicle, you have to pretend you don't see Satan standing there conferring with the potential purchaser.
“I really do love to ride,” I tell the seller, just to make conversation. I don't go into detail about the long-ago Sunday morning I rode the copper Honda over Red Mountain at sunrise, after five cups of strong Gevalia coffee. Not only did I see into another dimension, I actually learned to hear the molecules of air colliding as they went past the ear-holes of my helmet.
I don't go into that story, because people tend to misunderstand.
Then Satan uses the biggest and last of his ammunition: “Chicken!” he says to me. “Pe-cawk, pe-cawk, pe-CAWK!”
“It's really a nice motorcycle,” I tell the seller. “But I'm going to have to pass.”
As the seller pushes the forbidden fruit back toward the garage, Satan gets astride his own bright-red cycle (not metallic flake) and starts it up.
“Enjoyed it, dude,” he says to me. “See you next time.”
“You take care,” I shout to him as he screeches off.
I can't even tell you what he drives like.
Dale Short is a native of Walker County. His columns, photos, and radio features are available on his website, carrolldaleshort.com. His weekly radio program "Music from Home" airs each Sunday at 6 pm on Oldies 101.5 FM, streams live online at www.oldies1015fm.com, and is archived afterward on his website. His first book, the collection of columns “I Left My Heart in Shanghi, Alabama” will be reprinted in a special edition this summer by NewSouth.