I know what you’re thinking.
- You’ve never seen me wear a t-shirt. True enough. I don’t often wear them because it’s not a good look for me. The truth is that I need a few layers between me and the rest of the world to be happily attired.
- I don’t seem like a woman who would wear a preachy t-shirt. Also true.
- You’re betting I won’t wear this t-shirt because it has a grammar error on it. I do not play when it comes to grammar.
Of course, I see the mistake. I’m not blind. This t-shirt should read, “God is much bigger than I.” I admit it bothers me. I’m a big enough person to confess that. Because I love the coach who gave it to me, we’re going to say that this error is by design. I’m going to declare it a charming colloquialism, an attempt to convey a message informally for maximum effect.
Just so you know, we’re going with that excuse today ONLY. Only Coach Steve Sills could give me a shirt with a grammar error on it and expect me to wear it while running on the treadmill. I wouldn’t do that for anyone else in the world. It may actually hurt. We’ll see.
Coach Sills and I are unlikely friends. He’s young enough to be my son. That’s irritating enough. He’s a coach. I say unflattering things about coaches all the time. He’s a former athlete. I wash athletic uniforms, work concessions, and feed the team. He’s male, a dad to two adorable little girls. I’m a mom to three teenagers, and I can barely remember when my kids were that little. He’s black. I’m white. He calls me Ma Thompson. I boss him around without compunction. When I found out he had not finished the work for his teaching certificate, for example, I hounded him mercilessly to finish that up.
I love him fiercely, and so does everyone else who knows him. He’s something of a community celebrity where I live. He’s hip, cool, and a good role model. He is eternally optimistic. I’m known on the home front as Negative Nancy. Kids follow him around like he’s handing out free homework passes. If I worked in a public school, kids would run from me like Medusa with the snake-locks. Coach Sills is deep into philanthropic projects. I’m just trying to raise my three kids without bouncing a mortgage check. He’s deeply religious, completely comfortable with public demonstrations of faith. I’m Episcopalian, and I’m not even comfortable with the word “evangelism.”
Bottom line: I’ll wear the t-shirt with the grammar error, which is positively self-sacrificing, as far as I’m concerned, because Coach Sills is the kind of man I hope my boys grow up to be. That’s what I wrote when I autographed a copy of my last book for him. His response is now my favorite prayer: “May God bless everything you lay your hands to.”
Today’s life lesson: On rare occasions, when you give someone a little grammar leeway, you get pure poetry.