I have a seminary friend from Tennessee whom I will refer to as Stacie. (Go Vols!) She has just enough of an accent to throw you off. Like when she is talking about McDonald’s, she pronounces it – MAC [slight pause] Donald’s. Or when she says sometimes, it sounds to me like she is saying semtimes. Which has become our new label for any activity or behavior that is rooted in or, in some cases, caused by our unique seminary experience. In other words, semtimes means the things that happen or the things we do while at sem. Or to confuse you even more, semtimes is synonymous with #semtimes but used grammatically like the word sometimes.
Example #1: Semtimes we do things we never thought we would do.
One of my seminary friends was enthusiastically collecting grocery store stamps to earn a knife set as a Christmas gift for her mother. She not only collected her own stamps, but also enlisted the help of other seminary wives and even fellow customers. She found stamps on the floor of the store; she kept her eye out for littered stamps in the parking lot; I’m pretty sure she went door-to-door soliciting stamps; and she was even known to have swiped discarded stamps from the customer service desk. Would she have acted this way had her husband remained a banker in Iowa? I doubt it. Thus, her activity can easily be classified under the semtimes label.
Example #2: Semtimes we can’t remember who’s stuff is what.
Living at seminary is like an amalgamation of living at family camp, a college dormitory, and a compound filled with 100 of your closest friends/relatives. An obvious consequence of such a living environment is “stuff”. Shared stuff, borrowed stuff, holding-for-someone-else stuff, and here-take-this-I-can’t-fit-it-on-my-moving-truck stuff.
One trip to the apartments on campus and you will experience the enormity of all our stuff. Right now in my basement, I have a dresser for the Schulers, a motorcycle seat for Cave, and sleds, a workbench, a twin mattress, and quite possibly deer antlers saved for the Kunzes.
Inside my apartment are a fork and a spoon that belong to the Walstons, a pink, striped Tupperware container for the Douglases, a pyrex dish for the Werners, a flapper dress which belongs to Celina, and two hermit crabs that we are babysitting for the Berges who are out-of-town. (We chose not to take their wild toads – one of which they named after my husband – because their son told us that it would be our daily job to find and collect bugs in order to feed them.)
If you went outside my apartment, you could probably find about 23 red scooters lying in the street. Look out anyone’s window and you would feel like you are in a real-life I Spy book. Can you find an orange shovel, a green playground ball, a dirty, lawnmower-chewed sock, a yellow bat, 5 sippy cups, a black sweatshirt, pink sunglasses, a single white sandal, and a stray black dog?
Example #3: Semtimes we break the law for a coupon.
It’s a seminary tradition for wives to shop late at night with each other. Jun 7 9:37pm – Wanna run to Target? Jun 15 8:21pm – I gotta go grocery shopping, wanna come? Or in the case of my aforementioned friend, Stacie, Jun 23 8:56pm, she texted – Hey friend, I gotta run and get a swimsuit top, wanna go? I responded that I had a coveted Kohl’s 30% off coupon and if we hurry, we could make it there 30 minutes before closing. She hurried, I hurried. We jumped into the closest van to the seminary exit (hers) and headed down the expressway to Kohl’s. Everything was fine until we hit the exit.
At the end of the exit we needed to turn left in quite possibly the longest intersection known to man. We hit the intersection as the light was turning yellow. Stacie kissed her fingers, tapped the ceiling, and accelerated through the turn. In what seemed like 3 ½ minutes later, we reached the far side of that intersection –commenting simultaneously wow, that was long. But we quickly forgot our risk-taking as we saw the welcoming burgundy lights of the Kohl’s sign. Forty minutes ‘til closing! Only those beautiful burgundy lights reflected yet another set of lights – the blue and red strobe lights of a city cop car.
The police officer pulled us over right in front of the Kohl’s entrance (that may classify as cruel and unusual punishment) and then sat in his car for five valuable shopping minutes (presumably checking to see if we had stolen the Honda Odyssey). I contemplated making a run for it: it’s 30% off! Stacie contemplated crying.
In the end, the cop agreed with Stacie that the intersection was indeed long and graciously gave us a warning. Stacie drove off as carefully as her nerves would allow her (she ran over the curve, but parked like a pro). The wary cop watched as we entered Kohl’s. As soon as we had safely entered the women’s department, we shopped like never before. Stacie tried on about 17 swim tops in 22 minutes. We found one perfect blue top, bought it (with our coupon), and then drove home… s-l-o-w-l-y.
Semtimes, we find ourselves doing things we never thought we’d do. Semtimes, we deal with each other’s stuff. And semtimes, after taking a chance on a long intersection, we get pulled over in front of Kohl’s at 9:20pm on a Monday night by a cop who simply wants to remind us to take care.