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Tag: Short Stories

Short Stories: The Summer of 1968: Little League Baseball and Dad’s Corvair

bruce gerencser eighth grade
Summer of my eighth-grade year, with my mom and a friend (that’s a Rambler in the background) My mom is five foot eight, so as you can see I was quite short at this age.

In 2018, I attended my oldest grandson’s Little League baseball game at the Ney park. In 2007, my wife and I bought a home in Ney, three blocks from the park. Ney is little more than a spot along Route 15, home to one stoplight, one bar/restaurant, one gas station, and 356 people. The park has several ball fields, one of which is used to play youth league baseball games. What makes Ney’s field unique is that it has lights. My grandson’s game had an eight o’clock start time, meaning that part of the game would be played under the not-so-bright lights. A half-hour before game time, I gathered up my Sony camera, lenses, and tripod (which I since sold because my health precludes me from doing photography work), my water bottle, and my oversized lawn chair and headed down to the park. Bethany, my oldest daughter who has Down syndrome, gathered up her purse, water bottle, and backpack — filled with coloring books, colored pencils, and crayons – and headed down to the park with me.

I positioned myself just beyond the first baseline so I could photograph the action. My grandson played for Tinora — a school district north of Defiance. Their adversary for the night was a team of players made up of boys from Ney and the surrounding area. As I surveyed Ney’s players, I noticed that one of them, who was of slight build, had fiery red hair. Seeing this boy brought memories of another redheaded boy who played under the lights on this very field fifty-five years ago. In the spring of my fifth-grade year, my dad moved us from Harrod, Ohio to Farmer, a small community five miles west of Ney. We moved into a farmhouse two miles outside of Farmer, a home owned by my dad’s sister and brother-in-law, Paul and Mary Daugherty. We would live there for two summers. During these summers, I played baseball for the Farmer Tigers. Back in the 1960s, country boys roamed the countryside, rode their bikes, went swimming, and if they were lucky, played baseball. I was never a great baseball player. If fifteen players were being picked for a team, I was always one of the last boys chosen. I had two things going for me: I was left-handed and I was a fast runner. By the time I made the Farmer team, I had already developed bad habits that hurt my ability to hit a baseball. These bad habits would follow me through Little League and into summer league high school baseball. Being slight of build and left-handed, I stood close to the plate when I batted. This made me an easy target for balls thrown by wild pitchers who were not used to throwing to left-handed batters. Over the course of the four years I played Little League baseball, I repeatedly got plunked in the head, back, and legs with wildly thrown pitches. These repeated beanings made me gun-shy, and my inability to stand in there and hit the ball turned me into an offensive liability. My coach for the two years I played for Farmer decided the best approach for my lack of offensive prowess was to have me bunt and run like hell. I was fast on my feet, and as a left-hander, I was two steps closer to first base than a right-handed batter.

I don’t remember my parents ever attending my games while I played for Farmer. On occasion, my father would pick me up after a game and take me home, especially if it was late and I would have to ride my bike home after dark. One night, Dad came to pick me up with his blue Corvair. For those not familiar with the Chevrolet Corvair, its motor was in the rear and its trunk was at the front. Dad opened the trunk so he could put my bicycle away. After doing so he shut the trunk so we could be on our way. For some reason, the trunk wouldn’t latch. After several attempts to get the trunk to latch shut, dad came up with an ingenious plan: he would have me lie down in the trunk and hold it down while he drove us home. And that’s what we did. At the time, I saw my ride in the trunk as a great adventure; and indeed it was, as we bounced down Route 249 to our home. I suspect if my dad did the same thing today, child protective services would be paying him a visit the next day. I am sure some of the parents of my fellow baseball players wondered what Bob Gerencser was up to. Who in their right mind puts their son in the trunk? Right mind or not, this redheaded old man has never forgotten his ride home in the summer of 1968 — a time when war raged in Vietnam, race riots inflamed American cities, and assassins’ bullets claimed Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. This remains one of the few “good” memories I have of my father.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Short Stories: The Worst Mother’s Day Ever

mothers day

Mother’s Day is a special time at Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. It’s the one Sunday out of the year when the whole service is dedicated to women. Churches often give gifts to mothers in attendance, especially flowers. My favorite gift for church women on Mother’s Day was carnations. During this oh-so-special service, men and children are reminded of how they should love their mothers and praise Jesus for giving them such a wonderful, godly presence in their lives. And then comes the annual sermon for women from Proverbs 31:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Passing mention will also be made to other Bible verses that have been used to keep women in their place — barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen — for two thousand years. Throw in a couple of verses about women submitting to their husbands and male-only leadership, and the sermon is complete; and whatever joy the $1 carnation brought into their lives is muted by the Biblical reminders of their true status before God and man.

As a pastor, I saw Mother’s Day as an evangelization opportunity. I encouraged church members to invite their mothers to church, especially unsaved mothers. I promised them that if they would do all they could to get their mothers in church on Mother’s Day, I would do my best to share the gospel with them in between my points on Godly womanhood. Sometimes, I would plan a mother-daughter banquet the day before Mother’s Day. I would have the men of the church prepare a fancy meal for those in attendance. Feeding large numbers of mothers and their daughters afforded me the opportunity to put my restaurant skills to use. I became the general of the kitchen, making sure that everything was cooked according to plan. After the meal, a guest speaker would remind the mothers and daughters in attendance of their duties before God and man. It was the only day on the church calendar when church women would be afforded the opportunity to hear a female speaker (not a preacher, not a preacher, not a preacher, DAMMITA SPEAKER!)

One Mother’s Day — I was pastoring Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio, at the time — I decided I would recognize all the mothers in attendance. Numerous women stood as I asked mothers to stand so we could honor them with applause and $1 carnations. I then asked those who were standing to say how long they had been married and how many children they had. I planned to give special gifts to the oldest mother, the youngest mother, the mother with the most children, and the mother who had been married the longest. It took all of about thirty seconds for me to realize that I had made a horrible mistake.

Here’s what happened . . .

Sister Iris, how many children did you have and how long were you married, I asked? I was never married, but I have three children. (Imagine what my IFB face looked like the moment she uttered these words.) Sister Delorse? I am not married, I’m divorced, and I have two children. (Iris and Delorse were blood sisters.) At that moment, I wanted to commit hari-kari. I thought, I need to hurry this along, knowing that there were other unwed mothers and divorcees ahead in Bruce’s nightmare of a conga line.

Finally, the repudiation of all my preaching against premarital sex and divorce was complete, and all that was left for me to do was preach my sermon, give a brief invitation, utter a benediction, and usher my family and me the hell out of Dodge. Needless to say, I never asked women again to share how long they were married and how many children they had. Polly and I laugh about this now, but it was not funny at the time. My moralizing had been exposed, and the only feeble argument I could make was that all their sinning took place before they were saved. Praise Jesus, none of them had sexual intercourse post-Jesus, or so I told myself anyway. I would later come to the realization that, despite all my sermons against sexual sin, congregants were still, in the privacy of their bedrooms, car back seats, and motel rooms, having sex with people to whom they aren’t married to. I would later pastor an unmarried woman who wanted to have a baby without marrying a man. She paid a neighbor man to sleep with her so she could get pregnant. She succeeded. Unfortunately, she bore a child with a serious birth defect — a sure sign to many of God’s disfavor.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Short Stories: The Center Street Gas Station

1970-nova-ss

In the summer of 1975, I moved from Sierra Vista, Arizona to live with my mom in Bryan, Ohio, wanting to get as far away as I could from Arizona. I moved to my mom’s first-floor apartment on the corner of Center Street and Beech Street, two blocks away from the First Baptist Church, which I attended at the time. I lived with Mom until I left for college in August 1976.

I spent the year attending church, working a full-time job as dairy manager at Foodland, and running around with my friends. I rarely spent any time at home. I bought a 1970 Nova SS — a 350 CID, 375 HP muscle car — for $600. When I wasn’t at church or at work, I was in my car going somewhere with my friends or whoever I happened to be dating that week.

My Nova was a gas hog, requiring high test gasoline to run properly. I could go through a tank of gas on a Saturday cruising around the William’s County Courthouse square and racing from light to light. Fun times, to be sure. I have nothing but fond memories of this happy, busy year of my life.

In front of my mom’s apartment was a small gas station with a single repair bay. I befriended the man running the station (he could have been the owner), seeking his advice on repairing my car. Every day at closing, this man would shut off the power to the gas pumps. One night, he forgot to turn the pumps off.

As I was walking out the front door of my mom’s apartment to begin another night of cruising and goofing off, I noticed that the power was still on for the pumps. I quickly determined that this was a golden opportunity for me and my buddies to get free gas. I made a few calls, and soon my friends were lining up to fill their tanks. After everyone filled up, I did the same for my car. Being the good Christian I was at the time, I called the gas station manager and told him he left the pumps on.

The next day, as I was leaving for work, the station manager stopped me and thanked me for calling him about the pumps. Then he said, “I sticked (the long wooden stick used to mention tank levels) the tanks today, and I noticed that some gas was missing. Do you know anything about that?” Of course, knowing that I had committed a crime, I said “no.” The manager said nothing, but I have no doubt that he knew that my friends and I had ripped him off.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Short Stories: Grandpa is an Atheist

bruce gerencser not afraid of hell

My wife, Polly, and I have thirteen grandchildren, ages two to twenty-two. Over the next three years, ten of our grandchildren will be in junior high, high school, and college. One of the first things our older grandchildren do in school is type my name in Google. And what do they find? This blog. And perhaps for the first time, they learn that Grandpa is an atheist.

Out of respect for my children, I don’t talk about religion with my grandchildren. If asked, I will briefly answer their questions, but I wait until they are in high school before I have in-depth discussions with them about religion and politics. I typically shape my answers according to their age and the religious beliefs of their parents; how open their parents are to me sharing my story. The older they get, the more questions they have. Sometimes, I resort to buying them books for their birthdays or Christmas.

Last Saturday, we watched son #2’s three children, ages 12, 10, and 8. We had a delightful time. The girls talked my ears off, especially Emma, the twelve-year-old. Emma excitedly let me know that she had found my blog and that she knew I was an atheist. (I let her parents know she was reading my blog at school.) Emma is one smart cookie, top-of-the-class, a straight-A student who wants to be a large animal veterinarian someday. She loves to talk, as does her Grandpa, so we get along famously.

Emma didn’t ask me any questions about atheism. I did tell her Nana was an atheist too. However, she did share with me her own experiences in the Catholic church. (She definitely thinks her priest is b-o-r-i-ng.) 🙂 I found it fascinating to listen to her explain her view of the world. And make no mistake about it, kids her age have a worldview. Emma is a voracious reader, as are most of my grandchildren. Their parents are quite liberal when it comes to what they are allowed to read (as Polly and I were, surprisingly, with our children). The broader their reading experiences, the broader their worldview.

I told Emma about one of her older cousins being asked by her teacher if she was related to me. (The teacher had read a letter I had written to the local newspaper.) Sadly, my children have experienced this at the local community college and their places of employment. Dad is a public figure with a peculiar last name. People will naturally make the connection. I told my children they are free to disown me, but so far none of them has done so. As my grandchildren get older, they will face the same scrutiny.

After telling Emma this story, I was delighted to hear her say “I am proud of my Grandpa.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Short Stories: Sunday Night Communion and STARS Dirt Track Racing

bob hartman midway speedway
Butch Hartman

In the late 1980s, I planned to take Polly and our four children at the time to a dirt track race at Midway Speedway in Crooksville, Ohio. The STARS (Short Track Auto Racing Series) were making a Saturday night appearance at the track — a one hundred-lap event. Scores of big-name racers planned to be at this event. On the scheduled night it rained, forcing the track to move to Sunday.

At the time, I was pastoring Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. We had two services on Sunday: 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. I was facing a dilemma. I had tickets for the race, but I had to be present and accounted for Sunday night at the church. I couldn’t tell the church that I couldn’t be there because I had tickets to a “worldly” racing event. Doing so would have been considered a sin. Yet, I really, really, really wanted to go to the race. My two oldest sons really wanted to go to the race. All our dirt track racing heroes would be there. And a hundred laps? Wow, most late model races were 25-50 laps.

scott peltz midway speedway
Scott Peltz

So, I went to the Lord in prayer, seeking his guidance and wisdom. Just kidding. I concocted a plan to hold a “special” communion service at 5:00 pm, one that would be finished in less than an hour. And it was. My family and I quickly said our goodbyes and out the door we went. I am sure some members wondered why we were in a hurry.

The race was everything I thought it would be. On our way home, the guilt set in. Instead of taking the night off or telling congregants why I couldn’t be there, I manipulated them so I could do what I wanted. The good news? I prayed for forgiveness, and Jesus magically forgave me. 🙂

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Short Stories: Carolyn

bruce gerencser eighth grade
Summer of my eighth-grade year, with my mom and a friend (that’s a Rambler in the background)

I was a young child in the 1960s when I first realized my mother was different; that her wild mood swings were not “normal.” By the late 1960s, I knew Mom was mentally ill. Mom was a wonderful person: bright, witty, and passionate. She was also “crazy.” Her irrational fits of rage were legendary, as were her long bouts of deep, dark depression. By the time I reached fifth grade, mom had tried to kill herself thrice in one year. The first time, she swallowed a bunch of pills and had to be rushed to the hospital in Lima to have her stomach pumped. The next time, she pulled the car she driving into the path of a truck. The older woman who lived next door to us was with her, Fortunately, both of them survived. The third time, Mom slit her wrists. Imagine being an eleven-year-old boy and coming home to find your mom lying on the floor in a pool of blood. No matter how much I try, I cannot push that memory out of my mind. Mom survived, but she would try again and again before finally succeeding. She was fifty-four.

Mom sought help for her sickness. Her father, who sexually molested her as a child, recommended that she see a “Christian” psychiatrist in Lima. He was a sexual predator. Dr. Milke was his name, I believe. Mom would go to her scheduled appointment at Milke’s office. While there, he would give her “injections” that were meant to “help” her. Instead, Mom became addicted to the narcotics in the injections. While impaired, Milke would sexually assault her. He later lost his license to practice medicine.

Mom had two lengthy stays at the Toledo State Mental Hospital. She received electroshock therapy (now called Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)) treatments while there. I remember visiting her several times. She bore no resemblance to my mother. She was docile and zombie-like. Imagine trying to process as a twelve-year-old boy what has happened to your mother. Back then, children were expected to be seen and not heard. Dad never said one word to me about Mom’s sickness, leaving it to me to figure out what was going on. I grew up quickly.

During one of her confinements at the hospital, Mom met a woman named Carolyn. They quickly became good friends. After both of them were released, they stayed in touch. On occasion, Mom would drive to Toledo and visit Carolyn. I had the opportunity to meet her. They also wrote one another and sent each other cards for their birthdays and special occasions.

One spring, shortly before Easter, Mom received a beautiful card from Carolyn. In the card, Carolyn thanked Mom for befriending her. She also told Mom that life was too much for her, that she was done. Carolyn finished by saying, “Barbara, by the time you receive this, I will be dead.” This card was Carolyn’s suicide note. And sure enough, Carolyn put a shotgun in her mouth and pulled the trigger.

In 1992, Mom would take a Ruger .357 revolver, point it towards her heart, and pull the trigger. In a few moments, she was dead. In Mom’s meager belongings, I found Carolyn’s card. I kept it for a number of years. I even used it as a sermon illustration, but only once. I felt dirty afterward. I had violated the relationship Mom had with Carolyn, turning Carolyn’s death into a prop. The things preachers will do to make a “point.”

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Short Stories: No Fun without Jesus and the Bible

bowling jesus

One evening years ago, Polly and I were having dinner at the home of my best friend, a fellow Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher. Somehow, our conversation turned to the music we listened to when making love. I told him that Polly and I had one secular CD, The Carpenters, and we listened to it when rolling in the hay. My friend became quite alarmed over our choice of music. I asked him, “what do you listen to?” he piously responded, “we ONLY listen to hymns!”

Over the years, Polly and I have returned to this conversation, making fun of getting some afternoon delight or shagging to songs such as Victory in Jesus, Amazing Grace, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and a host of other IFB-approved hymns.

I am sure to people outside of the IFB church movement that this kind of thinking seems insane. However, there is a principle behind it: you can’t have fun without Jesus and the Bible. IFB Christians live and breathe Jesus and the Bible. For them, Christianity is what you live twenty-four hours a day, eight days a week, including when you are having sex. Thus, Jesus is with you everywhere you go. Sex becomes a threesome, and Jesus is in the next lane to you at the bowling alley and using the locker next to you at the YMCA.

From 1983 to 1994, I pastored Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. During my tenure there, I helped start a multi-church youth fellowship. At its height, the youth group had fifteen churches participating in its activities. Every few months, we would get together and have “fun” activities for church teenagers. Our church rented out a bowling alley, a roller skating rink, or held a lock-in at the Y. We wanted teens to know that, to quote Southern Baptist Evangelist Bob Harrington, “It’s FUN Being Saved!” (Please see Evangelist Bob Harrington: It’s Fun Being Saved.) This meant, of course, at every activity, we had to take break so one of the preachers attending could preach AT the attendees and then give an invitation. That was always the goal: saving sinners. The activity was always just a means to an end.

I remember the looks church teens would give me when we stopped their fun so they could hear yet another sermon. They already heard a sermon Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Thursday night. They heard even more sermons during the week while attending our Christian school. And then they heard me preach on Tuesdays and Thursdays while “helping” with street ministry. On youth fellowship nights they gave me that disappointed look that said, “preacher, can’t we have just one night without Jesus and the Bible?” Of course, they knew without asking that the answer was no. So they dutifully gathered in the corner of the bowling alley and skating rink and pretended to care about what the blathering preacher in front of them was saying.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Short Stories: The Most Shocking Thing I Ever Learned About My Wife!

bruce and polly gerencser 1978
Bruce and Polly Gerencser, May 1978

Note: My wife gave me permission to publish this article.

Polly and I met at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan in the fall of 1976. She was seventeen and I was nineteen. Both of us came from Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) backgrounds. While I came from a dysfunctional home, Polly grew up in a stable, solidly middle-class home: home ownership, vacations every year, and new cars every few years. Polly’s dad worked for the railroad. In 1972, at the age of thirty-five, he believed God was telling him to go to Midwestern and study for the ministry. In fact, he believed God was going to kill him if he didn’t. So the Shope family left Bay City and moved to Pontiac. Polly started high school at Oakland Christian School, graduating second in her class. Polly’s dad graduated in May 1976 and moved to Newark, Ohio to become the assistant pastor of the Newark Baptist Temple (pastored by Polly’s uncle, Jim Dennis). Polly went home for the summer and returned to Pontiac in August to enroll in classes.

Both of us briefly dated someone else before acting on the mutual infatuation we had with each other. We quickly fell in love, and on Valentine’s Day, 1977, I proposed and Polly said yes. Two years later, we stood before God and man at the Baptist Temple and said our vows. Forty-four years later we are still (mostly) happily married.

Polly and I are best friends. I genuinely enjoy spending time with her. As most senior couples can attest, we know each other quite well. We’ve spent countless hours talking about our lives before and after marriage. You would think by now that we would know everything about each other. Yet, several weeks ago, I was reminded of the fact that Polly is still holding on to a few secrets.

One weekend evening we were talking about living in the Midwestern dorm. Somehow, we got on the subject of masturbation. I told Polly that masturbation was common among men living on the three dormitory wings. Least favorite job? Cleaning the showers. 🙂 Yuck.

I asked Polly if any of the girls on the women’s floor masturbated. She replied, uh huh. I then asked, did you ever masturbate? thinking my shy, backward, pure-as-the-driven snow Polly would say no. Imagine my surprise when she said yes! At that moment, I gained a fresh appreciation for my wife. First, even admitting that out loud was a big deal, and second, her willingness to do so shows we are finally free from the Puritanical shackles of our Fundamentalist past. What’s next, finally admitting that she really wanted to taste the champagne I dumped down the drain during our honeymoon at the French Lick Hotel — a “sin” she denies to this day, one we playfully “argue” about. 🙂

For all their moralizing, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Christians are quite normal, and that includes sexual self-gratification. Too bad most of them won’t admit it.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Short Stories: Living Life Like an Ant

black ant

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise!

— Proverbs 6:6

 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.

— Proverbs 30:24, 25

Several weeks ago, we took a vacation to southeast Ohio, a trip that turned into a disaster and left me in a precarious mental state (from which I have not recovered). Please read I’m Back From Vacation for further information about our trip.

One evening after we returned from our trip, I told Polly I wanted to go to the Jubilee — a fair and carnival that has encircled the William’s County Courthouse in Bryan, Ohio every June of my sixty-five years of existence. The Jubilee is a shell of what it once was, an empty reminder of glory days long since passed. Declining attendance and exorbitant prices likely will doom its existence sometime in the future. When I was a teenager, the Jubilee was THE place to be. The square would be packed with people. I typically went to the Jubilee every night, hoping to run into my friends. We’d eat high cholesterol, sugary food, ride the Ferris wheel or Scrambler, flirt with girls, and horse around.

The Jubilee has a deep, sentimental connection with me. Not so for Polly. She never liked going to the Jubilee. Of course, always having toddlers and children in tow will do that to you. Polly knew that going to the Jubilee might be good for me mentally, so she said “sure, let’s go.” We put on our go-to-town clothes, lathered up sunblock, got $60 from the ATM, and parked a couple of blocks away from the Square. Bethany was with us. I thought she might enjoy riding a couple of rides. She did, though Polly was not as excited since she had to ride with her. They rode the Ferris wheel and the carousel.

As I stood nearby watching them, I looked down to the ground and saw a big black ant. He quickly captured my attention. Long-time readers know that I love ants. My grandchildren are not permitted to kill them. As I watched this ant scurry about, I thought about his brief and dangerous existence. Here he was scuttling around, searching for food. All around him was danger, particularly thoughtless humans who wouldn’t give a moment’s pause before crushing his insignificant body on the sidewalk. Everywhere this ant went there were obstacles to avoid; threats to his very existence. With nary a thought (do ants think?) about the existential threats around him, the ant continued to look for food. For a few minutes, the sounds of the causeway faded away and my mind was focused on this diminutive, yet magnificent creature.

My mind went to the Bible, Proverbs 6:6: consider her [the ant’s] ways, and be wise. On this hot summer night, this ant had a lesson to teach me, reminding me that life is short, filled with danger, and all I can do is embrace my life as it is. I too am scurrying about, hoping to meet my needs and make it to another day. The threats to my existence are very different from those of the ant, but they are just as real. I know that I am running out of time. Days, weeks, months, or even a few years from now, Polly will post a final article on this site, announcing my demise. I’ve embraced my mortality, realizing there’s little I can do to stave off the inevitable. So how then should I live?

On the ABOUT page I give this advice:

You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you best get to living it. Someday, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.

Eight years later, I stand by this advice.

I continue to lose dexterity and motor function. These losses constantly chip away at the things I can safely do. Sometimes, I do things I shouldn’t, tempting fate — much to Polly’s consternation. Most days, I recognize my limitations. I am ready to die, but I prefer it not to be today.

This ant taught me a lot about life, about being focused on what matters. While I am still in a difficult place psychologically, a black ant did give me a brief respite from my struggles.

Thanks, Mr. Ant . . .

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser