My first pagan friend...
I remember well my first "pagan" friend. I didn't know that he was "pagan" of course, because I was only 4 or five. But I remember that he swore, didn't have a dad, watched WWF wrestling and MTV, had a mom that smoked cigarettes, and got in fights at school. This made him a non-Christian in my book. He was both my catnip and my kryptonite. I was scared of him and drawn to him...sort of like the Vampires in the book Twilight.
He was "Eddy Haskel" to the very jot and tittle. He would come over to our house and call my parents "Mr. and Mrs. Holdridge" all kind and polite-like, talking with a voice that seemed like he was trying to sell them a knock-off Gucci watch on the streets of Manhattan. He was a salesman/showman if I ever met one. That's why I loved him. He knew the ropes. He was everything that "my little world" wasn't. Cunning. Daring. Dicey. My "little world" was safe, nurturing, soft, and careful.
I would invite him to VBS in the summer and he would come, ask Jesus into his heart, and then go about his life until the next summer VBS where he would go through the same spin-wash-rinse cycle, etc. There was one time that I actually thought it might stick because he talked about it the next day while we were playing, but alas, it was just to see if church on the weekends had crafts, cool-aide, candy and good looking 9 year old girls. I said something like, "No, it's more of like a class for two hours where they teach you about God. No candy, no kickball. It's hardcore." Needless to say, he never came on a weekend.
Oh, his name was Kenny. Kenny Clifford. His dad left he and his older brother and sister when he was little. He had never met his dad, he didn't care to either. I will save his story for a later date. His story was braided with mine until about age 11 when we moved out of Oswego into the countryside of Southwest Oswego. But for 6 years, he was my rabbi. My mentor. My hero.
It's not good to have a pagan as a hero when you're 5 or 6 years old come to find out.