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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

From my Front Porch

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Mamie Kuykendall and Operation Preacher

On any given Sunday morning you can find 80-year-young Mamie Kuykendall sitting about halfway down on the left hand side of the Baptist Church. Recently widowed after almost 60 years of marriage, she and her husband were known for their love of laughter and the occasional practical joke.

She is quite fond of her pastor, Brother Adam, a young Ken-type with a beautiful Barbie wife. Brother Adam loves to cook, but it would surprise many that this Baptist preacher is also a gourmet chef whose spaghetti sauce contains a secret ingredient -- red wine. Mamie, one of the few privy to this information, occasionally assists in the tricky business of shopping at the liquor store for Brother Adam.

Not long after Brother Adam came to her church, Mamie learned that the new preacher would soon celebrate a birthday.

Thus, began Operation Preacher Phase I

She went through her late husband's things and found a tie. A really ugly tie. It was one of those 1970s wide ties of beige polyester with brown stripes across it and little pink flowers at the bottom. Even in its prime, Mamie had considered it the ugliest tie she had ever seen.

But Mamie figured it was perfect for the best-dressed preacher in town with his expensive suits and pinpoint cotton dress shirts. She took it to her favorite gift shop and had it wrapped with a big bow. She then had a special card made. Inside she wrote, "Dear Brother Adam, Thank you for your ministry to our family." She signed it, "Sincerely, the A Kuykendall family" -- A Kuykendall being her beloved late husband.

On Brother Adam's birthday, Mamie had the gift delivered to the church. Brother Adam was touched by the presentation. He opened the card and read the words written in Mamie's careful hand. For the life of him, he had no idea who A Kuykendall was. He asked his secretary who, suspecting Mamie was up to something, denied knowing any such person. Then he opened the box and was quite shocked to find such an ugly tie.

Figuring a well-meaning person in memory of a family member gave the hideous thing to him, Brother Adam felt compelled to wear it the next Sunday. Mamie was counting on that, but it never happened. Brother Adam's better half put her foot down. He had two choices. Wear the tie or keep a wife.

And so Operation Preacher Phase II began.

The only hobby Brother Adam enjoys more than cooking is yard work. He spends hundreds of dollars each year on the care of his quarter-acre lawn.

He prides himself on having the most beautiful grass in town, with each blade carefully and meticulously manicured. Knowing this, when Mamie read about a newfangled computerized lawn mower, she called the toll-free number, pretended she was in need of the available complimentary video about the mower and had it delivered to her unsuspecting preacher.

A few months later, Brother Adam and Mamie were at a local football game. The lush, green field was a sight to behold. Mamie, who was seated with several other church members on the row directly behind their preacher, decided to talk about lawn mowers.

"Isn't the field just beautiful?" asked Mamie slyly to Brother Adam. "I was reading about a new lawn mower, some sort of computerized robot deal."

Brother Adam took the bait. "Oh, yes, that's the robo-mower."

He then began a 10-minute know-it-all monologue of the pros and cons of such a mower.

Mamie and her fellow church members, who by this point were in on the joke, all pretended to listen intently.

"You sure do know a lot about this," Mamie said with mock amazement.

Brother Adam was clueless.

"Oh, yes," he said. Then in a measured tone for all to hear he proudly pronounced, "I have the video."

While Mamie's coconspirators roared with laughter, she smiled a knowing smile and thought to herself, "But, of course, dear, of course."