In which Our Millie is Saved by Mistake, backslides and goes out to sin again and learns that things aren't always what they seem.
Our Millie used to say that hearin' all the hollerin', singin' and shoutin' in the Praise Be to God Tent Revival made her want to go to Heaven but sittin' through the preachin' was just plain Hell.
Big Mil started draggin' the kids to the Revival when Our Millie was about 9 years old and kept it up until they left home. Billy Bug and the Johnson brothers laid bets on how many would hear the Call and who would be Saved. M.J. usually took advantage of Big Mil bein' in the tent to catch a few smokes with her friends Liza and Jake. That is, until the year they caught the Tent on fire just when the collection plate was goin' around and everybody got so upset that they ran out without puttin' any money in and Preacher Joe called upon the wrath of God and the demons of Hell to smite all of Big Mil's family. In the years after that Big Mil sat between her daughters and kept a firm grip on M.J's arm.
If you didn't go to Revival you missed all the gossip, seein' people from miles around you hadn't seen since last time, good music, and spirited preachin'. Our Millie suspected the Spirits from Uncle Jesse's still might have something to do with the preachin'.
Our Millie always stayed close to Big Mil at Revival. Ever since she was little she had been tryin' to hear the Call. She also wanted to see if Big Mil was goin' to go up the aisle for the layin' on of hands at the end of the service. Big Mil said she had heard the Call so many times but sometimes she was just too tired to get up and walk up front, so if the Lord wanted her He would just have to come to her sea
It happened that hot and steamy August night when Our Millie was sittin' by Big Mil fanning herself with the paper fan with the picture of Jesus on it from the Eternal Rest Funeral Home which was given to everyone when they entered the Tent. It helped to blow hot air around and the swishing sound of all the fans was making her sleepy 'cause the Preacher hadn't gotten worked up enough to keep her attention when something else caught her eye.
Over by the piano was a group of Youth Singers and in among the others was a guitar and guitar pick. The sound and sight of the strumming pick caught her off guard and she noticed it was connected to a hand. Her eyes followed the motion of the hand, and then went up the arm to the shoulder and the neck and behind the old guitar was the most gorgeous boy she had ever seen. She heard him singin' "Old Rugged Cross" and it was like no one else was there. She thought he was Angelic and Heavenly and Wow. Maybe this was the Call.
The Preacher preached and the people sang and shouted. The fans swished and the night bugs invaded the tent and swatting of mosquitoes was soon added to the flavor of the Revival. Time was drawing near and soon it would be the Call to the Altar.
Our Millie was thinking up a plan. She was sitting near the back of the dimly lit Tent and was sorry she wasn't up closer to get a better look at the Gorgeous Boy. If she got in line when the Call came and just moved up a little she could see better and get a seat so she could talk to him after the Service. Soon the congregation was directed to turn to page 32 and sing "Just As I Am." People began to stir and Preacher Joe was standing in front of the Altar with arms outstretched urging all who heard the Call to come up front. Big Mil almost jumped out of her seat and lost her grip on M.J. when Our Millie started up the aisle. There was an empty seat about half way up and she was headed for it, all the time her eyes on the Gorgeous Boy, when it happened.
She got caught between the big Burly Jarvis with his bib overalls and work boots and his old Ma. She couldn't go toward Burly 'cause he was so intent on reaching the front that he wouldn't see her and she would be trampled. She couldn't go toward his Ma because she was so unsteady on her two canes that she was afraid she would knock her down and trample her. She was stuck with nowhere to go but the waiting arms of Preacher Joe at the Altar.
She was greeted with tears of joy, shouts of Hallelujah, hugs and laughter. They had been after Our Millie since she was twelve years old and she always managed to avoid this moment. It was a real triumph. Our Millie was Saved. In the meantime she was strainin' to look under Preacher Joe's arm or around his shoulder to catch sight of the Gorgeous Boy. To her disappointment she found that he was pudgy when the guitar was put down, and he had pimples and when he smiled it was more like Alfred C. Newman than her beautiful Elvis. Our Millie got Saved for nothing.
Always one to see the best in a situation though she looked at all the smilin' faces and decided that maybe it was meant to be and it wouldn't be too bad. There were so many happy people, most of all Billy Bug who was busy collectin' his money 'cause she had heard the Call.
She tried for awhile, hid her makeup and read her Bible instead of her romance novel and went to church almost every Sunday. But soon she was a backslider just like Big Mil. Next time she went to Revival she decided she would keep her eyes on the Preacher and think of Hell and would ignore the guitar pick held by someone who might really be gorgeous with dreams of Heaven.