Philadelphia Metropolis


Stranger Encounters of the Jesus Kind

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"You always have a story. When is your book coming out?" my best friend asked.

I knew she was teasing me, but she was also telling the truth. I do always have a story.  For some reason, I have surreal encounters with people that -- as strange or humorous as they are -- I couldn't fabricate even if I wanted to.

At first, my friends and I thought I had these encounters because I am a regular user of public transit. They were convinced that if I just got a car, paid boatloads of money in parking, my life would err on the side of normal. No one spilling beer on freshly pedicured toes, no one sitting next to you who reeks of urine and you pray (as you're on your way to a job interview  that you don't smell the same) No adult women fighting unruly high school girls as you make a home visit to a client because you got that job. My friends didn't have these stories. I suppose I wouldn't either if I didn't ride SEPTA transit so much. But I did. Minus the strange encounters, public transit gets me from point A to point B, and that works for me.

What stopped me from buying into my friends; theory was that I started having strange encounters unrelated to my use of public transit. I had them simply by being out in public.

Not too long ago while waiting for a friend to finish work so we could meet for coffee I decided to sit in Rittenhouse Square and enjoy the evening. I sat alone and observed my surroundings.  There was the guy who encouraged his dog to chase a squirrel, a couple of families playing football, young couples everywhere. I remember one in particular.

They were probably in their mid to late twenties, both had coffee-with-cream complexions< She had long wavy hair, and he had a close hair cut. They were casually dressed -- navy blue tank dress for her jeans and a grey graphic tee for him. They were holding hands, talking, smiling, and just seemed to be so in sync with one another. "I want that," I thought to myself. I want to be a couple that strolls through the park and strikes a little bit of envy from onlookers because we look perfectly in sync together. I watched them disappear into the park.

 Jesus Use this.jpgHowever, as quickly as they disappeared into the park, they reappeared in front of me.

"Excuse me, Do you believe in Jesus?" she asked.

"Of course I do" I thought. I'm a Christian. Children's choir, Sunday school, vacation Bible school, Christian summer camp, Hallelujah night instead of Halloween parties, and Christian college.

"Yes," I said.

"Mhmmm. Well, do you believe in both the male and female Jesus? It's in the Bible." she continued.

That was never covered in Sunday school. Mary had a baby and his name, was Jesus. If there was a female Jesus that would have made the virgin birth even more miraculous and surely the Bible would not leave that out. How was I supposed to know there were Jesuses  -- or  would the plural form be Jesi?

I looked at her male companion who stood there with his hands in his pocket nodding. I told the couple I only got down with the male Jesus.

"But don't you want to go to heaven?" she asked.


"Well you have to believe in both the male and female." She said.

"No thank you. "

 "But I thought you wanted to go to heaven. Don't you want to go to heaven?" she shouted.

All eyes were on us. People were staring waiting for me to either say I want to go to Hell since I only believe in one Jesus, or tell this couple they could go to hell. But if I said the latter then I suppose it would suggest I didn't get down with any Jesus, male or female.

So what did I do? I said no thank you again, got up and walked to the Starbucks where I was supposed to meet my friend. Screw the night air, the families, dogs and squirrels, and cute couples.

I didn't take a darn bus and I still had a strange encounter. Public transit isn't for me and neither is the public.

Dear Jesus, (the male one) can I get a new car and a lifetime supply of free parking in Center City? Amen.

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