Confessions Of A Breakfast Cereal Atheist

Confessions Of A Breakfast Cereal Atheist

A Story by Redfoot

  Many years ago, there came a time when I decided to ask the most wonderful girl I had ever met if she would marry me. We had been “living in sin” together for quite some time, so she knew what she was getting into when she said yes. This is the story of a “transformative event” that happened during the preparation for the wedding.

  My bride Samantha and I came from the same general area in the south but were raised and lived in completely different worlds. I was from a very large city where the term “neighbor” referred to someone who lived physically near your home. It didn’t imply any relationship other than the spot they happened to occupy. You didn’t know them, and they didn’t know you, and you didn’t necessarily want to know each other. You did your thing and they did theirs �" it worked. Sam, on the other hand, came from a very small town where the word “neighbor” has an entirely different meaning. Everyone in the town knew everyone else by name �" everyone. The incredibly friendly people in this town could spot an “outsider” from a mile away and would approach you without hesitation to learn who you were. Where I was from, if friendly strangers approached you they were going to either try to sell your something or rob you at gunpoint. I was a little less than comfortable from the moment I arrived. Sam found great amusement in my discomfort and enjoyed my introduction to the small-town life much more than I.


 As the date of the wedding grew closer we still had decisions that needed to be made. Well that is not exactly true, in fact, not true even a little. As the date of the wedding grew closer I was simply given directives and assignments related to my role. I had been removed from the decision process early on as warranted by my lack of enthusiasm and poor behavior during various planning meetings and field trips. At the time I worked for a very large corporation and would fly out each Monday morning and would not fly home again until late the following Friday. The last thing I wanted to do was spend the little time I had at home planning a wedding. At the time of course, this was a very closely guarded secret that I dare not speak for reasons of personal safety. I was more than pleased to simply receive my assignments and push my way through them as quickly as possible. Plans were made, assignments were executed, and life was good.


 The last weekend before the wedding finally arrived and the assignment Sam had for me was not a happy one. It smacked of heavy time consumption and personal discomfort, it was time to head back to her hometown to meet the minister who would perform the ceremony. I did not understand why I needed to make a three-hour trip to meet someone who would play a role in the ceremony that lasted only a few moments. I was foolish enough to share these thoughts with Sam the night before I flew home and received a two-hour explanation to enhance my understanding. Having found a new respect for the difficulties of planning a wedding, I began my trip home the next day and was reminded why the airlines have so many fans out there. My flight that was scheduled to arrive at 9:00pm on Friday night, finally limped into the gate at 1:30 the following morning. I walked in the door at home a little after 3:00am and collapsed into bed.


 Sam rolled me out of bed at 7:00am and told me we would have to leave within the hour if we were going to be on time. I was still exhausted from my trip home and my mind was not working as crisply as I would have preferred but I pushed on. She got in the shower and I headed for the kitchen because I had not eaten in a long time and was very hungry. I was looking for something quick, but I also had to be careful in my choices, Sam was constantly replacing normal food in our house with “healthier” replacement foods. There is a reason the stuff is called “healthy” and not “tasty”. I found myself backed into a corner and had to go the cereal route, the only thing we had were “healthy” choices, cardboard cut into pretty shapes. I selected one called Mueslix, which seemed remarkably heavy for it size. I filled up a bowl, sloshed in some milk and got down to business. The cereal looked like pine bark nuggets with a few sticks and twigs thrown in, so I was not expecting much when I picked up a spoonful. To my absolute amazement, the cereal was great, and I dusted off a bowl in a flash.  “Don’t mind if I do” kind of took over from there and before I knew it I was on my fourth bowl. I read the box as I ate, intent on discovering the ingredients of this wonderful new discovery. I took note of a few things while reading and glossed over others, one of the things I glossed over was the two-word phrase “fiber-rich”. I thought this was yet another inconsequential selling point for the twig nibblers and moved on my way, I would have to hurry to be ready to go on time.


 The trip itself was uneventful and I was feeling good with my freshly filled stomach. We arrived at the minister’s home right on time, a beautiful area way out in the country. The minister and his wife greeted us at the door and I swear they looked like they came right out of central casting. If you imagine what you would think a small-town church minister and his wife should look like that is exactly what these people were. Two of the most rehearsed and soft-spoken people you would every want to meet, very calming. I was thinking to myself that weddings are a waste of this guy’s talent, he was obviously a funeral man. No matter what was happening, he could make you believe everything was going to be all right. This guy could put a hummingbird in a coma he was so calm.

  We took the obligatory tour of the minister’s property before we went inside, and it was indeed a lovely place. While we were looking at their barn and horses, I suddenly felt a strange gurgle inside. It was almost like a bubbling in my center, but it quickly subsided, and I thought nothing of it. We finished the tour and moved towards the house.


 We all sat down together in the living room and chatted about the ceremony and how many people we were expecting to attend. The minister asked us if we had any specific requests and made several thoughtful suggestions along the way. After a short while the minister’s wife asked Sam if she would like to see the rest of the house and they headed to the kitchen. The strange gurgle returned to me, this time much more pronounced, and I came to realize something wasn’t quite right. I reasoned that I only had a short while left in this visit and I could gain a better understanding of what was going on once we had left.


 The minister was very interested in learning all he could about me and asked questions on a wide range of subjects. He seemed particularly interested in understanding my work, and what it was like to travel as much as I did each week. We visited for about half an hour when the minister seemed to visibly change gears and become much more focused. He looked me right in the eyes and said, “Tell me about your relationship with Jesus Christ”.


 At that very moment the occasional strange gurgling I had been experiencing came back to me. To my great horror, this time there was absolutely no doubt about what was happening. This was no longer my body making a mild request for attention, this was a threatening demand for action, right now. What followed was a complete shift of my internals, everything inside me seemed to drop about four inches. All the little pieces of information I had gathered in random order throughout the day instantly aligned in my mind and I suddenly knew exactly what action I had to take. I needed a bathroom and I needed one right now. Suddenly I was like a trapped animal, looking for exits. I knew what was about to happen, at the same time realizing that this was not something that could happen in a stranger’s home. My mind was racing at light speed and thoughts poured over me faster than I could process them. One of those thoughts was of that small-town lifestyle where everyone knew everyone else. If I didn’t take evasive action right now I was about to become famous in a small town for all the wrong reasons. The minister was sitting across from me calmly waiting for his answer.


 I am certain the sudden distress I was experiencing must have been obvious as I watched the expression on the minister’s face change. I gave him the only reply I could muster, “Excuse me please”. I got up and found Sam and told her that we needed to leave, now. She was obviously confused as I told her, “Just make an excuse, I’ll be in the car”. I daintily moved to the car and Sam soon followed, she asked me why I had gotten in the passenger seat as she opened her door. I told her, “Don’t ask questions, just drive”. As we headed down the road I explained what was happening and that we would likely need to replace the interior of the car if she didn’t hurry. I kept telling her, “we need to be going faster than this”, as we raced towards town. What seemed like hours later, as we came into civilization I saw the greatest sign of progress the town had to offer, the McDonalds. We pulled into the lot and I very carefully got out of the car and headed towards salvation trying not to make any sudden movements (pardon the pun) along the way. On the way in I passed an employee and I couldn’t look them in the eye as I moved with purpose and speed.


 Early in my own career, I found myself in a position in which one of my responsibilities was cleaning the public restrooms. My co-workers and I had many conversations about the various horrors we had discovered in the execution of our cleaning duties. One of my co-workers had a theory in which he proposed that there were two schools of etiquette when it came to public restroom behavior. The two schools were “considerate” and “no-pride”. Each had its own defining characteristics for everything from sound management and courtesy, and to put it in polite terms, residual and distribution. I fully subscribed to this theory, as over time we saw things that ranged from concerning, all the way to things that defied the laws of physics.

  To my great sorrow, that day for the first time in my life, I fell into the no pride school of etiquette. There was a total absence of management, I was simply along for the ride, wishing I had a seat-belt as I broke the sound barrier. I emerged from the restroom a broken man, filled with shame and focused only on getting away from the scene of the crime as quickly as possible.


 I explained what had happened and Sam’s howling only grew louder when I explained to her what I had eaten for breakfast that morning. Only then would I discover that “fiber-rich” is so much more than just a selling point for twig nibblers. I had unwittingly fueled a dangerous rocket that was only waiting for an ignition source, which apparently was a minister asking me to explain my relationship with Jesus Christ. I was simply glad to be heading home so I could put this humiliating experience behind me. Sam had a marvelous time and kept the jokes coming all the way home, at least it was over. Or so I had thought.

  The following weekend came, the big day arrived, and so much was happening that my thoughts had become scattered. The events of the previous weekend never entered my mind, until the minister and his wife arrived. I greeted them both and apologized that we had been forced to leave our earlier meeting so suddenly. I noticed they seemed to be acting a little strange afterward, but I simply had no time to delve into it further at the time. It become more clear something was wrong as I stood on the stairs of the altar beside the minister as the ceremony began. When Sam was about halfway up the aisle, the minister leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I just want you to know that God loves you no matter what your beliefs are, he will be waiting for you when you decide to come home”. I thought to myself that this was true enough but why in the hell is this guy telling me this in the middle of my wedding? Once again, the events unfolding in front of me pushed the minister’s thoughts to the side for the moment and the ceremony went on.

  It only occurred to me later what the minister was trying to tell me. The last time he had seen me he had asked me to explain my relationship with Jesus Christ, which I had responded to by getting a distressed look on my face, suddenly excusing myself and getting in the car and driving away. This guy thought that his question had been the reason I suddenly walked out and left that day. An unfortunate choice in breakfast cereal had rendered me heathen in the eyes of this man.

  That was more than 20 years ago, and to this day on the rare occasion that we meet somewhere, that minister is still uncomfortable around me and avoids me at any cost. Probably not a bad idea, as I later discovered that several of Sam’s friends had mentioned to her how surprised they were when they heard she had married an atheist. I never explained anything further to that minister about the events of that day at his home. I wasn’t exactly overflowing with trust in him after I became the most widely known atheist in town thanks to him. Apparently, word travels fast in a small town whether they know you or not. I am not an atheist, but I have played one in my wife's hometown. 

© 2017 Redfoot

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Added on December 28, 2017
Last Updated on December 28, 2017