Pastor Walter Mitty had intended to begin working on his new year’s resolutions last Tuesday after he finished his bowl of Natural Ovens granola. He knew for sure that he wanted to lose 10 pounds and to play racquetball with Michael at least once a week. He wanted to get more involved in the community and be more forceful about motivating members at the Poplar Park Community Church to give more than a measly 2 percent of their income to God’s work.
But as he walked from the kitchen to his study, he got distracted by the Sunday Tribune lying on the living room floor. It had fallen off his Lazy Boy and lay open to a page in the Home and Garden Section. There on page three was a half page, full color ad for the Retro, complete with a photo of Zaphne with her red and green hair.
“I don’t believe it,” he thought. “Zaphne is spending money way beyond her means. How can she afford an ad in the Trib when she’s just a local Poplar Park merchant?”
Forgetting about his new year’s resolutions, Mitty threw on his jacket, put on the Green Packers stocking cap that Herman had sent him for Christmas, tore the ad from the newspaper and headed for Main Street. When he walked through the front door of the Retro, he found the store packed with people. Zaphne was scurrying about, helping customers find the smiley face wastebasket or Mike Ditka football card they were looking for.
Pastor Walt waited patiently by the cash register until Zaphne noticed him. He held up the ad and said, “Wow.” Zaphne beamed as she came over to the check out counter.
“How could you afford a half-page ad in the Trib,” he asked.
“How could I afford not to?” the entrepreneur responded.
“But, it must have cost you a ton of money.”
“Four figures,” Zaphne replied. “Rev., you have to spend money to make money. That’s been the problem with merchants in Poplar Park. They don’t think big enough.”
“But isn’t spending all that money a big risk?” asked Mitty.
“Rev., life is a risk and being in business is an even bigger risk. See, the only other store in the Chicago area like mine is over in Boys’ Town. I have a niche business, and I have to draw folks from all over. See that woman over there? She’s from Wheaton. And that man by the Coca Cola glasses is from Evanston. Gotta go Rev.”
The next day at the Men’s Fellowship Breakfast, Mitty, Eric, Ash and Dominique all ordered oatmeal. “So you’re all doing penance for overeating, right?” Alice chuckled. “You guys are all soft. That’s your problem.”
Pastor Walt shook his head as the cantankerous waitress headed off to serve another booth. “I think we should talk about New Year’s resolutions,” he said as the four men sipped their coffee.
“I’ll begin,” said Dominique. “I’m going to start learning Chinese at DePaul next week,” he said.
Three jaws dropped open. “Why Chinese?” asked Eric. “Why not Spanish? Hispanics are the big group moving into Chicago. Wouldn’t Spanish be more useful in the banking business?”
Dominique nodded. “In the short run, yes. But certainly all of you know that some day-and it will come sooner than we think-China will be the big superpower, maybe along with India. And English will be replaced by Mandarin as the new global language.”
Eric, Ash and Mitty tried to digest what Dominique was saying. After a minute of contemplation, Ash said, “Maybe that’s why my granddaughter is in Beijing for what they call J Term at her college. When I told her that it seemed like an extravagance to me, she said that half of the students at her school study abroad at some time. Something about thinking globally.”
When Pastor Walt got home, he put on his slippers, went to the study and began work on his resolutions. He wrote down lose weight, exercise, get involved in community, stewardship, and then he paused. He thought about his conversations with Zaphne and Dominique and Ash, and wondered why what they had said made him feel uncomfortable, even a little threatened.
He looked at the globe on the top shelf of his book case. It was a Replogle that he gotten for Christmas in 1960. Spinning it slowly around, he marveled at how many things had changed.
He sat down and wrote on his list of resolutions, “Get a new globe and maybe, talk to Michael about taking a trip to the Holy Land together.”