Then there was Ginny Fant. Did I care that she was in fourth grade and I was in sixth? Did I care that she had 11 younger sisters (maybe it was only four) and lived in a shack in the woods? Did I care that she was a mouth breather who always had a smudge of dirt on her nose and a snot plug in one nostril? No I did not, for I was in love with her, and love is blind.
Her family went to my church, the Nikiski Church of the Nazarene. Not much happened with her, as I did not know what to do with my amorous feelings for her other than to try to be where she was as much as possible. That meant that I became fanatical about attending church. Especially Wednesday night prayer meeting.
If you are one of those people that missed out on a churchy upbringing, Wednesday night prayer meeting is a sort of pared down version of Sunday church, held midweek in order to remind people to come back the following Sunday. Most people treated it as optional in my church, so attendance was usually low. This however, plus the absence of a lot of extraneous activities made it the optimal venue for maximizing face time with Ginny.
My family was extra churchy since my dad had built the church. But after he left my mom would sometimes opt out of the Wednesday service. As I said though, I had become fanatical about it, and would urge her to go – not beg, mind you, as I did not want to let on any ulterior motives. Just urge.
One Wednesday in summer, try as I might, I was not able to persuade mom to go to church, so I walked. It was five miles, about as far as I had ever walked at one time. I finally got there, winded but on time, and was devastated to realize that the Fant family was not there. I sat by myself all the way through the droning, maudlin service hoping she would show up, but she never did.
Another Wednesday that summer, to my horror, my mom took us all on a hike up to a waterfall with some family friends. It was an hour drive to the trailhead, then a two-mile hike in to the falls and back. Everyone but me was having a grand old time. All I could think of was, how in the hell was I going to get us all back in time for church?
A hundred yards before the falls there was a turnout, a little side trail you could take to get a frontal view of the falls. We all went down it and had a good look. Impatient to get on with things I said, mock-cheerfully, “See you at the falls!” and headed on up the trail by myself.
I got to the falls and waited for everybody else. I waited and waited. Nobody showed up. I started to worry. Not about being alone in the woods, about being late to church.
Eventually I went back down the trail to find them. I stopped at the turnout, but nobody was there. At this point I panicked a little about being alone in the woods. I started back down to trail again towards the car. All I heard the whole way were birds, the wind, and my own feet pounding the trail.
I finally got to the parking lot, ready to give everyone a good bitching out, but there was nobody there. Now I really freaked out. Exhausted, but amped up on adrenaline, I charged back up the trail. Within a few minutes the whole group came into view traipsing merrily down the trail towards me. “Hey what happened to you?” somebody asked. After leaving the turnout they had spotted some mushrooms off the trail and went to pick them. That’s how I had missed them.
I was speechless with anger and fatigue, and was silent all the way back. We got home just as Wednesday night prayer meeting would have been finishing.
Nothing remarkable happened with Ginny Fant after that. This event killed my crush on her and gave birth to my lifelong obsession with punctuality.