C'mon, Eve!

Miss Brooks

Depending on how old you are, if you remember her at all, you probably remember the actress Eve Arden as the teacher and main character of the goofy old TV show "Our Miss Brooks." Or if you're a fan of classic movie musicals, you surely remember her as the long-suffering principal of Rydell High in "Grease." She actually did a number of other things in legit movies and plays, but these seem to be the two biggest memories of her.

I've got another memory of her altogether.

Go Rydell High! 
It was January of 1978. Dub Narramore, the intrepid professor of theater at Austin College, was taking yet another group of students to London for the month of January. Just about 30 days, just about 30 plays. Sweet! It was a fabulous trip which included British bobbies in Trafalgar Square, Sir John Gielgud, a gay flight attendant, Bing and Bob, and a gravy ladle - but I digress. For now, it's
(forgive me) "All About Eve."

We first encountered Eve during a Saturday matinee. Steven and I were seated toward the back of the theater, but our friend Steve was sitting closer to the front. A buzz developed in the audience before the show began. Neighbor whispered excitedly to neighbor, "Eve Arden is in the audience!" Steve, visually impaired, had assumed she was seated next to me. So he turned to "me" and said, "Did you hear that Eve Arden is in the audience?" I hope she was using her signature deadpan voice when Eve Arden replied to Steve, "Yes, I did."

After the show, for some reason, the taxis were not running and EVERYONE had to take the "tube" to get home. Even Eve and her husband. Without taxis, the tube was the only alternative for the hoi polloi like us and the glitterati like Eve. It was packed.

Except that it seems Eve had never before experienced boarding a subway car. She didn't know what to do. All the AC theater crowd was already on board. Two fellows held the door open for her, but she hesitated at the wrong time. Then the doors began to shut right about the time she lurched forward - and so the doors popped open again. And, once again, she froze.
Eve's wig in better days

This little hokey-pokey continued for what seemed an eternity: her left foot in, her right arm out, automatic doors were shaking all about. And no one was getting anywhere. Until... our friend Dawn finally grabbed her by the arm and said, "Oh c'mon, Eve, get on." Several of the Kangaroos of Austin College sprang into action and pulled Eve and her hubby securely over the threshold and into the car. By that time her wig was at a jaunty angle and she looked a bit dazed, but we were all finally moving.

Okay. So you can imagine that there will be some theological reflection coming after lo these forty years. And here it is.

Recently I've been doing some reading about the current period of Reformation we're experiencing in the large-C Church - which is what made me recall Ms. Arden Of Blessed Memory. And I'm thinking that, actually, getting Eve Arden into a subway car isn't that different from getting some 21st-century churchgoers over the threshold of God's new thing from the 20th-century trappings of Christendom.

We always had it easy as 20th-century Eisenhower-era Christians, didn't we? It was taxi rides all the way, and there were plenty of taxis to go around. Or at least we thought. These days, the taxis aren't running that frequently for the Church if they're running at all. And so we're being forced into trying something different - something which works reliably and well, something which many folks are already using, but something which is going to require of us some bravery and a big leap.

The "tube" is ready to move. You can't get on the wrong way - we're all going to be going in the same dirction. Some who have already boarded will be happy to help us aboard. But if we just freeze helplessly on the platform, our wig'll get knocked off and we'll be left without a ride.

Oh c'mon, Eve. Take the plunge. There's more than one way for us to get where we want to go. We may not know exactly how to do this, but if we'll just let some unlikely Kangaroo help us over the threshold, then we're in for quite a ride.


  1. Oh great story. In the Singapore airport once waiting for my group and saw an older woman at top of the escalator. First she seemed amazed by the stairs continuing to appear so suddenly. Several groups sort of walked around her and rode down. I got up to ride up to assist and a small boy with his parents behind him walked up took her hand and urged her on. Wonderment was on her face the whole ride down. They got to the bottom and she successfully stepped off still holding the child’s hand. She turned to him and bowed. He smiled and waved. His parents were beaming. I think he did this un prompted. One kind heart observing and acting and helping a stranger.
    He must be grown now. I can only imagine him. Bring still filled with compassion.


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