• Jennifer Barnick

God Bless the Child

Hotel Lobby

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

(This blog post was originally published on May 24th, 2017.)

The original subject for my Wednesday post was going to be stock buybacks versus capital investiture; however, in the light of the terrorist attack in Manchester I thought I would go an entirely different direction.

Today I am going to share two little stories regarding me finding myself in a vulnerable position and how someone completely stepped in and rescued me. I remind myself of these stories when I am anguished either at a personal level or at a more universal level, as when I was working late and my daughter yelled, “Oh no mom, there’s just been an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in England!” my first thought was, Oh no, they must all be kids—very young kids. These stories are also stories of when I was as young as those precious lost.

Goddesses are Actually Kind

My first childhood home was on a little dead end lane that was a kind of nuclear family Shangri La. Almost the whole street had young couples with very promising careers and very young children. When I was a newborn I did not arrive alone, rather there were six or seven other babies brought home in my birth year. The funny thing was that I was the only girl of the batch. Consequently, from infancy to five my sole and constant companions were boys. I even would join their slumber parties and sleep over at their houses. I built forts, played war, courageously got hit by a car due to a pretty good rock throwing fight, and kept an impressive live bug collection in my bedroom.

However, at five this would all come crashing down. It only took a few minutes at kindergarten for my gang to figure out I was not like them, and from there on out, I would be relegated to the girls. The problem was that I found girls as strange and mysterious as the boys did, and really it would take some time before I would even locate my own inner girl.

I changed schools in the fifth grade. It was the first time I would be separated from kids that I had known since five. By ten I had managed a strikingly awful girl style: I hated clothes shopping (still do—much to my girlfriends’ chagrin) and I was chubby, so I simply wore the complete line of ‘Pretty Plus’ clothes from Sears, as they were created to mix and match efficiently (‘Pretty Plus’ was the girl version of ‘Huskies’ which were clothing lines built for chubby kids). Also, I wore a no nonsense short haircut and bifocal glasses that I thought were marvelous: gold octagons that were in the elderly male section at the optometrist. Needless to say, without the charity of kids who grew up with me I was far from being welcomed by my new classmates.

While sitting alone nibbling on my lunch one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen sat right in front of me, introduced herself, and fully—immediately accepted me as a friend. She really did. She invited me to her slumber parties, she roller skated with me at the roller rink, and she even had me over alone for sleep-overs. She explained boy girl stuff patiently when I would inquire, and we even once called a boy. With her accepting me, the other girls, and then the whole of the student body, did as well. She never commented on my weight, or my terrible style or my lack of romantic sophistication. She was always just genuine and kind. There is no doubt in my mind she sat next to me because she felt sorry that I was alone, and she knew that unless there was some sort of intervention my isolation would have gone on for some time.

The Elevator Gentleman

When I was a very young woman I took a trip to London without parents. I fell immediately in love with the city and perhaps showed my affection a little too enthusiastically. One night I was particularly wild and had met up with a group of theater students, and together we drank the city up. I have a vague memory of them walking me to my hotel and laughing and saying goodbye…but then…. Nothing, until I found myself being poked by the metal end of an impressively long umbrella.

It turned out that I had passed out in my hotel’s elevator. He poked me again. I heard him sigh heavily, and then he said, “You need to get up. You cannot pass out in elevators.” He stopped the elevator and changed its direction from Up to Down. He bent over me and hoisted me up by my shoulders. By then I was awake, though very drowsy, and still intoxicated. By the time we exited the elevator, I had sobered up just enough to see who it was that was dragging me upright out of the hotel. He was tall and slim and in his thirties. He was wearing a very fine suit; he had a hat on. He had red hair and a thin, impeccably groomed mustache.

“You need something to eat,” he said. He then took me to a diner. He ordered me a hamburger and fries and a coffee. He ordered nothing. After some coffee and food, I had perked up enough to chat. He was English but was working in South Africa. He was at a crossroads regarding his career and his familial responsibilities. He was a Scorpio.

By the end of my meal I was much better and on our walk back to the hotel I was able to walk completely independently from him. When we entered the lobby he bid me goodnight and instructed a female who was working at the front desk to take me up to my room and make sure I made it there soundly.

The next afternoon I was waiting in the lobby for a few friends when a staffer from the hotel informed me that I had a phone call at the front desk. It was my elevator gentleman; he was off to South Africa, but he wanted to make sure I was safe and sound and told me sternly that I must never—ever—drink like that again. Somehow his stern scolding worked, and never again would I drink to the point of losing composure of myself and awareness of my surroundings.

It is not lost on me on how vulnerable I was and how much danger I was in. The man could have easily kept the elevator going Up. Or, just as easily, let me lay there curled up in the hotel elevator. However, he did not.

Jennifer Barnick

Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.”

Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.

Really Really Terrible Girls