Meet My Old Friend, Temptation

A voice in the night called my name.

Greg…. Greeeeg…” it wailed..

It sounded troublingly familiar, like something or someone that I once loved and lost – but the voice was so soft and muffled that it barely made it through the bedroom wall from the garage.

Oh…….

I realized who it was.

It was the pail of chocolate chip ice cream that I had banished to the freezer in the garage.

During my annual physical, my doctor warned me that my blood pressure was too high, my cholesterol level was stratospheric and my blood sugar level had entered low earth orbit.

He gave me a choice.  Either he could fix it with drugs or I could fix it with diet and exercise.  That was three weeks ago and now a pail of chocolate chip ice cream was calling my name.

I have only so much will-power and ice cream has so much more.  I know it was stronger than I – but I didn’t get my ears boxed by nuns for 12 years for nothing.  I knew just what to do.

I prayed to my guardian angel.

“Please, please, please, help me avoid temptation…”

And he answered my prayers.

It was quite a shock– since we had not spoken in years.

It is not that I had been particularly good for all that time – rather it is that I had not been particularly bad and when I was bad it was in all the usual ways – doing things he had given up on long ago.

“I suppose I could do you one last favor,” he said.

“Last?” I asked.

“I am retiring,” he announced.

“Really?  And just when I was getting easy.”

“You were never easy,” he said.

I knew he was right but I couldn’t avoid the temptation to fish for a compliment – but that is just it, I could never avoid temptation.

“So what was the worst thing I did?”

“Worse for you or worse for me?” he asked.

We both knew the answer to the first, so he filled me in on the second.  “Remember when you and your buddies skipped church to go hop trains?”

That was Stan’s idea.

“Well, it was supposed to turn out badly for you. I had to pull strings.”

“Sorry about that.”

He continued….

“When an angel petitions for an event to be altered, he has to cover all the things that depend on that event.  The paperwork is horrendous and the meetings are endless.  You have to go through a process like that to truly understand eternity.”

“I said I was sorry.”

“Yeah, but now you are really in for it and I don’t have the energy to get you over the next hump.”

“Is it that bad?”

“It is.”

“So what’s the temptation?”

“I think you know….”

“Chocolate chip ice cream?”

“No,” he said, “but that might be a clue.”

As he spoke, he began to fade, first like a melting fog then like twilight in a forest.  Just before he vanished, he whispered good-by in a voice as ancient and forlorn as the moan of a dying star.

***

His voice was quickly replaced by another, more eager, voice.

Hello.. Hello…”

“Who are you?”

“It’s your old friend temptation.”

The voice sounded too much like my buddy Stan.

“Go ahead,” I told him, “take your best shot.”

The room instantly filled with the scent of pipe tobacco and warm brown ale.  It reminded me of the country pub in Kent England where I had my first real beer.  If I had not run out of money, I would still be there.

“That’s not going to work,” I told him, “These days, I get indigestion by my second beer. I just don’t have the stomach for alcohol anymore.”

Another fragrance wafted in on the breeze. It was perfume – belonging to Darcy, the sexist woman I have ever known…. and the craziest.  I flinched…. it was the natural defense that all males use whenever Darcy gets too close.

“So what else do you got?” I asked.

“The greatest temptation of them all,” he said.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said.

“Nothing?”

“Nothing,” he said, “just put your feet up, turn on the big screen TV and do nothing….. absolutely nothing.”

Author: Almost Iowa

www.almostiowa.com

50 thoughts on “Meet My Old Friend, Temptation”

  1. I am a believer in all things in moderation. It’s not a bad thing to have a couple of spoonfuls of that ice cream. My problem is that I can’t stop with just a couple of spoonfuls. I’ve got to go through the whole thing. One final thing, I believe we have a bit of Stan in all of us.

  2. I loved this one! And I didn’t see that end coming. Self-discipline is such a hard thing, isn’t it? I often wonder why we weren’t just born with bodies that thrived on a generous intake of sugar, salt, carbs and alcohol, and that didn’t need exercise to keep it healthy. But of course if we were designed that way, we’d all crave excessive exercise and would only lust after green leafy vegetables.

  3. Really and truly, I wish you hadn’t mentioned ice cream. I finally got it all out of the house, and now I’m thinking, “Well, it’s only 9:42, and the store is open, and it was a hard day…”

    But I will resist. Guardian angels are interesting. I’ve never called on one, and mostly don’t think about them.On the other hand, when I think back on things I’ve survived that I had no right to survive, it gives pause. Maybe the real ones are so busy working they don’t have time to stop by for conversation.

  4. No ice cream, huh? A sugar fix in the garage over here wouldn’t last all of a minute. Your overburdened guardian angel was a hoot. I have a feeling you’re going to miss him when Temptation realizes he’s retired. 🙂

    1. I got a reprieve. When I told my little temptation devil that my guardian angle took an early retirement, he got indignant. Apparently, hell has a lousy benefit package – it kind of goes with being in hell – but then so does work stoppages. Temptation is on holiday.

        1. I was walking the North Downs Way in a sort reverse Canterbury pilgrimage. I found it shocking to walk through wheat fields and people back yards – it is where I truly understood what right of way means.

          1. Rights of way are really important to us, as our country is so small. Without them, many people would never get to access countryside at all. Although the ones through backyards are reasonably unusual!

  5. Good one! Those darn nuns…you do have the T-shirt, don’t you? “I Survived Catholic School.” Who knew guardian angels retired. I don’t remember reading that in our catechism….

    1. They didn’t give me the t-shirt because I didn’t actually survive it. I got kicked out and to be totally truthful, I (and Stan) got kicked out of every school we attended.

  6. BAM! Another funny but deeply meaningful ending.

    I hadn’t thought about how denial is just a form of falling into temptation. I wonder why it’s something we fall into? Is it like a fallen angel?

    1. I found as I age, that the temptation to become inactive, physically and intellectually, is almost overwhelming – but I am fighting back. My diet is working, I have lost about 14lbs and I took up running again. Now, when I walk around the block (about 7 miles), I run half the distance.

      I am thinking I might have another marathon in me.

    1. It wasn’t until years later that I realized why the nuns were so “mean”. My class, meaning classroom, had 54 students – and I was a hyper-active, hyper-imaginative and hyper-creative kid with a buddy, Stan, who had and has a penchant for evil. We got batted around on a daily basis.

        1. There are a lot of folks around Almost Iowa who went to single room country schools with more kids in the class than I experienced – but they said their system worked well. The older students tutored the younger kids and the younger kids got a preview of the coming year’s classes. Rather than moving stepwise through the grades, it was more like a continual flow.

          There is something to be said for that.

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