Grandma and I were planted outside the front doors of our church this morning (Sunday, November 13, 2011) to greet all those arriving for the 8:15am service. It was a beautiful day in mid-November, and a bit on the nippy side for North Florida. Grandma was bundled up like Santa Claus complete with a wool scarf and black gloves to fend off the cold. I was attired in a beige dinner jacket, matching beige sweater vest and beige shoes with nicely pressed black trousers. My usual Mickey Mouse tie, which the ladies all love, was buried beneath the sweater.
As members of the church for eight years, we greeted most all the folks by name as they came up the walkway from the adjoining parking lots. A majority of the early arrivers were also grandparents and great grandparents, so we shared the many joys of kids, grandkids, and each other in our maturity. While the church has whispered about a scandal or two among the more mature congregants, this morning brought an issue to the church’s front door for several of us to witness. I may have been its first witness, and as one of the morning’s responsible greeters I called attention to the evidence as it came to light.
Grandma and I were monitoring two sets of double doors on both sides of the narthex, so when the traffic is light, we may be welcoming the arrivals together. If folks are arriving from both sides, we may be greeting the arrivals separately. During one of the slower periods, I moved over to Grandma’s door to greet one of the more familiar of the gentlemen.
“Good to see you, Ross” I said as I opened one of Grandma’s double doors to the church. As soon as I opened the door for Ross to enter, I noticed a complete pair of lipstick prints on Ross’s right cheek. It was so obvious that I was reluctant to see Ross enter the church without protecting his sterling reputation from the tattoo-like evidence. Marilyn, one of the church elders, was also arriving almost simultaneously with Ross.
It seemed appropriate at the time to see if Marilyn had witnessed Ross’s magnificent markings as he entered the church, and find out if she believed it appropriate to see Ross enter the church with such an obvious sign of affection for all the congregation to see. She appeared somewhat startled at the lipstick, yet she walked on into the narthex almost indifferent to Ross’s dilemma. She indicated that if Ross wanted to go to church with lipstick on his cheek, it was certainly his business. Having heard from one of the ruling elders, it seemed pre-ordained that lipstick on Ross’s right cheek was entirely optional.
Ross was somewhat startled by the alleged evidence, and as he couldn’t see it himself, my wife, Grandma, the other greeter, assisted with its removal. After the commotion at the left set of double doors subsided, I had a few moments to reflect on the situation.
Ross is a charming and debonair gentleman, and is clearly attractive to many of the more mature ladies in the congregation. At the same time, Ross and Pat have a long-term friendship going back for many years. It was certainly within the realm of possibility that Pat had placed this mark on Ross’s cheek earlier in the day, well before Ross arrived at the church. As Ross and Pat are good friends this possibility rose to the top like cream as a likely explanation.
After this brief reflection, and during another lull in the activities at the church’s front doors, Grandma told me that she was the one who had planted the lipstick on Ross’s right cheek. With this surprising announcement, I went immediately to Marilyn, the elder, in order to remove any possible social blemish on Ross’s reputation. I told her straight out that it was actually Grandma, my wife, the other greeter, who had planted the lipstick on Ross’s cheek, not just any casual friend or acquaintance Ross had encountered before coming to church.
With this somewhat startling information, I reviewed one more time the events I must have missed while greeting folks as they arrived for the early service. While I was performing the duties of a greeter at the second door to the church with my back turned to Grandma, Ross arrived at Grandma’s door without Pat. Exactly what, if anything, might have prompted the kiss on the cheek, I really don’t know.
There is, of course, no written manual of either etiquette or protocol for greeters at the front doors, right and left, of our fine church. For this reason I must admit that kissing or being kissed by the ladies is an item that surely has not come before the session for their consideration. With or without the elders’ assent to such a fine greeting, it still occurs to me that I might want to keep a closer eye on Grandma’s greetings at the other door to the church on Sunday mornings.