This week, my wife almost accidentally joined a gang.
It all started when she bought a new pair of shoes. These weren’t just any shoes, these were some bad-dude shoes.
Normally, my wife’s an unassuming fourth-grade teacher at a year-round school. She doesn’t come across as your average gang member. When the new school year began last month, she went shopping for a modest green jumper.
She needed a new pair of shoes to go with her outfit. And not just any shoes — green shoes.
A few hours later, she came home with some white Reeboks with a green stripe crossing the shoelaces. Nice shoes.
I noticed a subtle line of light green letters embroidered on the dark green stripe.
“Hey,” I asked reading the letters, “what does G-Unit mean?”
Enter my 14-year-old daughter.
“Mom!” she screamed, “Do you know who G-Unit is?”
I did a quick Internet search. The Web site for G-Unit features pictures of a gun-toting group of rappers with a middle finger communicating obvious displeasure with the world. Hello, Gang Task Force!
Of course, my wife’s choice in shoes was accidental. She didn’t start her day intending to change her party affiliation from “modest and dedicated fourth-grade teacher and mother” to “anarchistic potty-mouthed sycophant.” All she wanted was a nice new outfit for the first day of school.
Her search for impressive duds reminded me of a Judeo-Christian story about a young man named David who was also looking for an edge on his first day of battle with a guy named Goliath.
David’s family thought they might help him by dressing him in King Saul’s armor, which swallowed him like a stick man wearing a Michelin tire suit. David took a few faltering steps and then decided if he was going to survive this row, he’d need to face Goliath in the skin God gave him.
David didn’t have any G-Unit sandals, but I’m sure the armor was a tempting way to add intimidation to the equation. It’s a common trait in nature to puff ourselves up like a blowfish trying to frighten a pursuer. It becomes tempting to talk louder, threaten, sue and even dress like a gangsta. But in the end, we look just as naked as the day we were born.
In trying to defeat evil and save the world, David was simply exploring what might best work for him. In the end, he found that being himself worked better than any armor he could possibly construct.
As far as my wife goes, I don’t blame her for considering the gangsta part. Seriously, I mean, you try teaching fourth-graders some days and see if you don’t feel like David against Goliath. However, after a few moments of looking at the shoes and brandishing her seam remover, she acquiesced. “Uh, I guess I’ll be taking these shoes back to the store.”
Yeah, good idea, sista