Intermission started in the multi-purpose room of the High school. The student production had paused, giving me twenty minutes or so until the next act. I admired the edifice around me made possible through public education. The smell of old milk flooded my brain with memories of gummy french-fries served with inedible “hamburgers” (I still have doubts as to actual meat content). Faded curtains adorned the stage, complete with stapled-shut holes and tears along the bottom. A single worker manned a snack bar without gloves or a hair net, exchanging money for grease.
I turned around in my folding metal chair and looked through the back window of the room. It was windy, and judging by the speed of an airborne McDonald’s bag it would be too cold for my T-shirt. I decided to stay inside, checking my pockets for snack-bar money.
While I weighed my chances of being satisfied with stale nachos, my eye caught on a gentleman that I kind-of knew. He had a daughter in a youth group I had attended, and had spoken regularly at our meetings. The messages had always inspired me to live better, and he kind of seemed like a friend even though I had never actually talked with him one on one.
We chatted for a second or two, and I noticed he wore shiny business shoes. Nothing ostentatious, but professional. His shirt and slacks were clean and well pressed, matching his shaved face and well-kept physique. He had probably left his tie and coat in a BMW in the parking lot. In his hand he carried a rolled-up 100 dollar bill, and motioned with it as he talked.
“I heard you got a letter,” he said, pointing at me with the bill. He looked proud.
“Sure did, I’m heading to Romania in May,” I said.
“Good work.” He tapped me on the chest with the bill. Noticeably, he did not say anything about the money. I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to take the Franklin, or if he was using it like a pointer in a presentation.
It was one of those awkward moments I’ll never forget. Are you giving me money? Are you just an eccentric millionaire wandering to a snack bar with 100 dollars as your lowest denomination?
Maybe he wanted to help the performers by purchasing something. He also seemed like the kind of guy that would hand a missionary money without blinking, but why wouldn’t he say ‘here, have some money,’?
The ambiguity proved too great, and I didn’t take it. Hopefully he wasn’t offended.