A few friends from high school marching band squeezed into my green Ford Pinto. We drove to State College to see the movie “A Chorus Line”. The song “Tits and Ass” rang through my head as we drove over Nittany Mountain in the dark. I prayed that my car would not break down.
Dana Scott, a non-Baptist Christian and baritone player in marching band, claimed to have spoken in tongues on several occasions. She sat in the front seat next to me with her hands on her lap and seemed to sense what little spark the Pinto had. To avoid the embarassment of the noise my clunker was making, I asked Dana to explain the process of “falling into the spirit and speaking in tongues,” to the rest of the band.
“They say you cannot speak in tongues around non-believers,” she explained as I shifted into fourth gear as we topped Nittany Mountain. The car began to shimmy. From the window, mountain shrubbery filled with poison red berries passed my periferial vision. It seemed that if one day we were all welcomed into the Kingdom Jesus once spoke of, the berries would be edible and one would actually take the time to get out of the car and walk around to admire the view overlooking a valley filled with lush pastures below, but I kept it moving while Dana spoke with a slight sharpness to her tone: “It would be impossible for me to do speak in tongues here in this car. Besides, I don’t like doing it. It scares me,” she explained.
“There is always a translator, sent by the Spirt, to translate what is spoken in tongues, otherwise, what is spoken is not authentic,” my friend Mark, a tuba player piped-in from the back seat. Like a true Baptists who sits first-chair in the clarinet section during non-marching band season, I was skeptical of all the brass in my vehicle.
I recalled, while looking at the poison berries passing by the car through the corner of my eye, the day in marching band practice when Mark, while taking down a tuba mounted upon his shoulder, covered the front of an orange t-shirt with what seemed a gallon of spit.
It was obvious he had not used the spit valve on the tuba in some time. The entire woodwind section roared in laughter. Mark, like one caught up in the spirit Dana had referred to earlier, had no idea what had happened.
“I am glad to be a Baptist,” I confessed, “we believe that once one is saved they are always saved and we don’t have to do silly magic tricks to win others over to the Lord.”
Dana refused to speak to me for the remainder of the ride. The tension in the car was stronger than the brakes on the Pinto.
A rabbit ran from under a poison berry bush near the road The Pinto squashed it. The shocks in that car were so bad that it felt we had just run over a deer. I shrugged my shoulders and was glad that it was not a deer. Dana did not mumble a word in English or in Latin.
Two miles further down the mountain road, another rabbit ran from the forest. We hit it as well. I laughed and screamed, “Got it!”
Dana nearly spoke in tongues.
A third rabbit nearly ran in front of the vehicle but suddenly stopped turned and ran the other way. I screamed, “Watch this!” and pretended I was going to do a doughnut while grabbing the steering wheel with a hug.
Suddenly the rabbit decided to cross the road anyway and the Pinto squashed it too.
“Please stop doing that! I am really upset,” Dana cried.
“I usually don’t do that trick in front on non-believers,” I responded and drove off into the night like a clarinet player with a solo played during concert band.