church_lady

So the other night I was feeling guilty about being slightly rude to poor Mrs. Trimble. As Betsy and I walked home from town after dinner, I told her I was going to knock on the door and ask Minnie what it was she so desperately needed to tell me about the house.

“You’re a complete mentalcase if you do that,” Betsy warned, and literally ran into the house as I turned to make my way up the Trimbles’ walk.

“You may never come out alive!” she shouted as Minnie opened the door.

Mrs. Trimble was delighted to see me. It was 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday night, and Vern was nowhere to be seen. Her house was much as I expected, stuffed with musty furniture, books and tacky mementoes. There was not an inch of wall space visible — it was all taken up with numerous paintings of Jesus, crosses and other Biblical scenes, some macrame-d and embroidered. There were also photos of her children in every stage of development.

She pointed out one photo in particular. “That’s Todd and Debbie Trimble. They’re going to work as missionaries in Pakistan.”

“How noble,” I replied, trying to figure out who the lone black kid was among Todd, Debbie, and their three little Flanders.

“It’s obedience, that’s what it is. Todd Trimble heard the call from the Lord and he heeded his call.”

Whoa. I silently notice that she repeatedly refers to the couple as Todd and Debbie Trimble. Not just Todd. Always Todd Trimble. Same with their daughter, Cathy Trimble. “That’s Cathy Trimble and her husband John.” I get it, lady, they’re your kids. Their last name is Trimble. Now tell me why there’s a terrified-looking black kid in this picture with Todd and Debbie Trimble?

And so I ask.

“Who’s this gorgeous boy?”

She takes a deep breath.

“That’s Edward, Todd and Debbie Trimble’s godson,” she replies.

“In a family portrait? How nice of them to include him.”

“He’s a member of the family; they adopted him when he was an infant because his mother had some … problems, bless her heart.”

“Oh, so they’ve raised him since he was a baby. So he’s their son,” I reply.

“No, he’s their godson. They refer to him as their godson. HE’S THEIR GODSON!”

Whoa …… poor Edward. How desperately must he want off Planet Trimble? I wonder if they feed him only after the Chosen Ones have eaten first and make him do all the chores?

The tour continues. She takes me to the back of the house, where she has left her children’s childhood bedrooms exactly as they were. She informs me that the six grandchildren are not allowed inside these rooms, which are also stuffed with cheap shit and Jesus memorabilia and the original ’70s wallpaper and bed linens of the type that never came back in style, even ironically.

Down the stairs we go to the basement, which has its own prayer room, office and preserved 1970s playroom, again untouched, again off-limits to the grandchildren. There is a rusty Easy Bake oven and Barbies and GI Joes. There are also weird passageways and closets “built by Vernon Trimble with his own hands,” Minnie informs me with pride. I am now certain there are body parts under the house, perhaps even Edward’s crack ho mother.

I notice a signed photograph of George W. Bush and Laura, thanking the Trimbles for all their financial support in 2000 and 2004.

“Doesn’t Laura look pretty there,” I say, struggling to find something to say as she beams proudly at it.

“Oh yes she does. My prayers were heard when President Bush was re-elected in 2004. The Lord heard my pleas, and he granted me my wish.”

Oooooh boy. I make a mental note to hang my photoshopped photo of me and Barack Obama holding hands atop the slogan: “Obama/Trixie ’08. Yes they can!” in a prominent position in the front hallway.

I notice the book Middlemarch on one of the dusty shelves. I mention I read it on “my honeymoon.” Minnie’s eyes light up with fervent excitement.

“Where IS your husband?” she asks.

I could have just said “dead,” I realize. But I couldn’t help myself. I gleefully tell her that I’ve had two husbands, that I am a tw0-time divorcee. She is stunned speechless for a moment, but manages to mutter something like: “Obviously neither of them had any taste, and they were probably sinners as well.”

Suddenly a creepy Vern appears out of nowhere, possibly from one of the hidden passageways, where he was very likely sawing up body parts and making human flesh tea. Now that she knows I am a gay divorcee, I sense Minnie is nervous having me in the presence of her weirdo husband. Indeed, he cannot take his eyes of my rack. He makes some joke like: “You look like the new lady who moved in across the street. Oh, wait, you ARE the new lady who moved in across the street!” as he stares, practically drooling, at my hooters. Smooth, Vern … real smooth.

I am suddenly overcome with a desire to get out of this Jesus Freak Asylum, and Minnie seems keen to see me leave as well. I say I must go, turn down offers of body-parts tea from Vern, and pat their scrawny cat, who also seems slightly off. Betsy’s waiting, I say!

“Exactly who is Betsy?” Millie asks.

“She’s my oldest and best girlfriend,” I reply, hoping she wonders exactly what I mean by girlfriend.

I scurry across the street, glad to be out of there. Betsy is frantic inside, fearful I would return hypnotized and chanting about my love for Jesus.

The best part is that Mrs. Trimble has not knocked on my door in two days. I think learning that I am a two-time divorcee is the equivalent of discovering I had boiled and eaten my children as newborns with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. She clearly now believes me to be a dirty whore, and is nervous I might come after her husband.

In this regard, my visit to Minnie Trimble’s house might have been my smartest move.

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