Soon after moving to Colorado in August of 1971, Jean and I joined Littleton United Methodist Church and the Crusader’s Sunday School Class.
The class consisted of about sixty members in their thirties and early forties.
They all loved the Lord and were active in church and enjoyed occasional humor with their pursuit to learn more about the Bible and abundant living.
We soon became a part of this remarkable group. Many of these people are still close friends even though some are now living elsewhere.
These fertile, sharp minds came up with innumerable unusual activities and parties. These pursuits brought members close together but did not interfere with the goals of our religious learning. In 1992, it was decided that a Caribbean cruise was in order for those who wished to take part.
Members interested in the cruise met at the home of one of our leaders to learn about the plans and decide whether or not to take the trip. Around twenty-five members signed up and were ready to go.
At this gathering, my good friend, Jerry Arnold, told me that he and Merv Graham were taking their tuxedos for the two formal evenings and invited me to join them. I told Jerry that I did not own a tux and had not ever worn one, not even at weddings in which I had participated.
This was a little hard for Jerry to understand and in his endearing somewhat raspy voice told me “Jim, I have three, I’ll bring one for you”. I thanked him and said, “Jerry, you know yours would not fit me”. The conversation that followed was something like this:
Jerry – “I bet it would. What size coat do you wear?”
Jim – “I wear size forty – long.”
Jerry – “I wear forty – long. What size pants do you wear?”
Jim – “Thirty-four waist.”
Jerry – “I wear thirty-four”. What size shirt?”
Jim – “Fifteen, thirty-two.”
Jerry – “I wear fifteen, thirty-two. What size shoes?”
Jim – “Twelve.”
Jerry – “That’s the size I wear. That settles it, I’m bringing a tux for you.”
Jim – “Okay, Jerry. I will wear your tux but I tell you what. I’ll bring my own underwear, size small.” I did not think that the laughter of those who were near by would ever cease.
Sure enough, on Thursday, Jerry brought his black tuxedo to our cabin for me to wear. He had worn it on the first formal night but it had been cleaned and now ready to go. That evening we proudly entered the dining room together, grinning from ear to ear and strutted the length of the room to the table we shared. Jerry was dressed in white and I was in black.
I find that you don’t really know people until you travel with them. Believe me, all of us really got to know each other but remained friends.
Have you ever come out of your bathroom to find two fully clothed couples in your bed. Three couples, the Merv Grahams, the Mel Glerups and us, had flown to the port of departure, San Juan, Puerto Rico a day early to explore the island. After a day of exploring and excitement, we joined each other for dinner in the hotel.
After dinner, all of us but Jean went to the bar for an after-dinner drink.
After we finished our drink, we all went to my room to harass Jean. She was in the bathroom with the door closed. The two other couples immediately jumped into our bed fully dressed and pulled the bedspread up to their chins. Soon Jean opened the door and was completely stunned by what she saw. Then she became overcome with laughter. We all joined her with uncontrollable laughter. The friends soon left, still giggling.
The next afternoon, we boarded our ship and were there to greet our weary friends who had just arrived after a long flight.
I had never seen any of these people in bathing suits. There was a surprise or two but we all were shocked when my bicycle riding buddy, Marv Thrasher appeared at a pool party in a bikini. He called it a speedo. He was probably the most mild mannered, easy to blush guy in our class. In his speedo, he smiled and sashayed around like he was a Hollywood lifeguard.
I was told that two of our couples were wandering around a secluded beach on one island and came upon an area where everyone was topless. The ladies claimed that they did not join the topless but literally dragged their husbands away to another beach. Jerry and Merv had big grins on their faces when they told about their adventure.
The fun week ended with a bang at a party the evening before we disembarked. There was a little money left in the cruise fund so Jean and I spent it on crazy gifts purchased along the way. We hoped that these silly gifts would give everyone something to help them remember the good times.
Soon after we gathered for the party, Merv took over as our MC as only he can do. Among other things, he presented a gift to everybody there. These presentations took considerable time because of the roar of laughter and smart aleck remarks. I was given a tee shirt with an outrageous looking captain on its front with off-color remarks about his power over the ship and the people on it.
It was getting late and everyone had received a gift but Jean. Then Merv announced that the final presentation was to be awarded to the person who had gained the most weight that week.
He slowly approached Jean with a mischievous smile on his face and placed the prize in Jean’s lap. It was a pink, furry, dancing pig about the size of a football. Jean’s reaction could be expected. She had a horrible frown on her face and yelled “No, not me.” No one argued with the selection and this episode brought the loudest and longest laughter of the entire week.
This probably was the most fun week any of us has ever had. Jean’s award mysteriously disappeared but she still is reminded about it. I eventually bought a tux and wore it several times. I no longer have an occasion to wear it but I’m saving it to wear to the Pearly Gates. I know that St. Peter will throw a party when I arrive and I will be dressed for it.
SEPTEMBER 2013 4