On Oct 1, 2012, I bought a hoodie. I’m actually wearing it right now, and the fabric wears thin in certain spots because of the excessive wear it receives. There’s not a lot special about it, except that it’s a Goldilocks “just right” type of fit, not too big and not too small. Its most notable feature is the insignia printed on it right around my heart, which reads, in blocky letters: ING RID MICHA ELSON.
I don’t know who, if anyone, I have to thank for my undying and healing love of the music of Ingrid Michaelson. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her twice in concert, once in Grand Rapids and the other in Chicago, and she is, as she so charitably described herself, “a fucking angel.” If I had to guess who fed me my first credit carded lines of sweet, aural Ingrid crack, I’d have to say it was my best friend Micah, because he was the one I went to the concert with, after all. And we weren’t going empty-handed, either.
In preparation for the concert, we made Ingrid cookies, based on a series of stories she told about them at another concert of hers. We were going to be the heroes of the day and make sure that Ingrid knew that we loved her. Since I am not actually that deft with an oven, I approached my dean, Dean Iwasa, and asked him if he could make the cookies, and he kindly obliged in the best manner possible – cinnamon chip cookies. One day, I hope to see an epic rap battle against chocolate and cinnamon chip cookies, but until then I will, like an emperor in the Coliseum, give my thumbs down to the chocolate chip and see it executed.
While Dean Iwasa sacrificed his time to help me with my childish ambitions, Micah and I were making sacrifices of our own. I distinctly remember a conversation with my teacher going something like this:
Me: I’m not going to be in class on Monday.
Teacher: Whyz notz?
Me: I’m going to see the frog-flipping love of my life.
Teacher: I can’tz givez excusesez forz thatz.
Me: (Pause) I’m not going to be in class on Monday.
I cut that class completely that day, and skipped out on another one early to meet up with Micah and Dean Iwasa. We had to drive from Andrews University to Calvin College, an hour and a half, and we knew that the rest of the world loved Ingrid, too, so getting there late was a sure way to get awful seats. When we got there, there was certainly a good line, but nothing to prevent us from getting a great seat, stage-level left and right near the front.
Food wasn’t allowed in the auditorium, so I snuck the cookies in, wrapped in a plate with Saran Wrap, in my jacket. Like the thug I am, I intentionally dropped my computer case when I got up to validate my ticket. The man told me that I couldn’t bring a computer in, so I opened the case and showed him that it contained nothing but a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and he validated my ticket and let me through…while gaily ignoring the bulge in my jacket caused by the Saran wrapped cookies.
Once we finally got in the auditorium and in our seats, it was time for the show we’d been waiting for. The plan was to get the cookies to Ingrid when she walked to our side of the stage, but she never did. Drastic measures needed to be taken. Since Micah is the engineer and Pop Warner footballist extraordinaire, I allowed him to do the math and execution necessary for this next move. We put the cookies in the computer case and attached a note to Ingrid on it. Micah waited for an opportune moment and heaved them onto the stage like an ancient Olympian throwing a discus, at the perfect distance, not close enough for her to freak out cuz she thought she was getting bombed, but not so far away that she wouldn’t notice. (And if you don’t believe me, check out this pale blue dot on stage.)
She didn’t notice anyway. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to interrupt my star while she was talking.
Ingrid: (interrupted) “Yeah?”
Me: We brought you cookies!”
Ingrid: In that computer case?
Me: (ashamed) “…Yeah.”
The concert continued, and at the end, when Ingrid had gone and I went back on stage to reclaim my computer case, a stagehand asked if we wanted him to make sure Ingrid got the cookies, and of course we said yes. We went outside and milled around the merch table and I decided to purchase this hoodie. A woman then came from backstage and told us that if we wanted to meet Ingrid, we could wait outside by the tour bus.
While waiting outside for Ingrid, we were able to get some of our stupid off on her bandmates that came out first (which included me talking to Allie Moss and using the word “awesome” at least 15 times in a 20-word sentence.) When Ingrid finally came out, we were calmer, and when she saw the computer case in my hand, she asked if I was the one with the cookies. I told her I was, and she said that she was so happy about them because Calvin College had basically given her kaput to eat. And then she hugged both Micah and I, after which we calmly walked away, got in the car, made sure the windows were rolled up and screamed for approximately 15 minutes straight.
Why I told you that story
I told you that story because none of these experiences exist. They are gone in the same way that your dog was gone when he died (no, he did not go to some farm.) Furthermore, they live only with me. Micah may have shared in them, but he has his own memories of that night, and his memories live with him. They do not exist.
But this hoodie does. This hoodie gives validation to the experience that I think I had that was so powerful, and it sometimes makes me feel like I’m right back in that experience. The same thing happens with Christians and the Bible. They feel the same things that everyone else feels, euphoria, angst, despair, anger, elation, liberation, etc. And this is why they simply can’t stomach when someone tells them that that’s probably not the way it went down. Adam and Eve? Definitely not the way it went down. Noah’s Ark? Surely not.
But Christians do not believe this because they are impervious to facts. It’s that the enchanted objects make life so much easier than the truth. Instead of believing the actual story, they’re believing the emotions that they had when they heard it, thousands of times over their lives, and they will not be told that they’re wrong, or that their experience is wrong. The Bible, they feel, is all they have left. It reminds them of goodness and youth and beauty and they won’t be told that it’s a sham. We’re all susceptible to this, for sure, but if we try a little harder to identify the enchanted objects in our lives, perhaps we won’t be so afraid of the truth.
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