Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Name is Kevin

© 2010 David’s Harp and Pen

Mood: Slightly Coherent


This blog is based, in part, upon actual events and people. Certain actions and characters have been dramatized and fictionalized, but are inspired by true events and real people. Certain other characters, events, and names used herein are entirely fictitious. Any similarity of those fictional characters or events to the name, attributes, or background of any real person, living or dead, or to any actual events is coincidental and unintentional, so I better not hear from any people named Kevin or any advocacy groups for people named Kevin. I have worked through all my issues and hold no resentment towards any of you. I realize none of you can help being evil. You were just born that way.

“Welcome to Open Door Church!” I said with all the enthusiasm I could muster.

“Thanks! Looks like a cool church you have here,” replied the dark haired, brown-eyed stranger who stood before me with an innocent smile upon his face.

“My name is Sharon. What’s yours?” I asked.

“My name is Kevin,” he answered, completely unaware of the anguish he was about to unleash upon me.

“NOOOOOOOO!!!!!” I screamed with the ferocity of a woman whose last frazzled nerve had been stomped upon with an industrial strength, steel-toed, steel-shanked work boot. Kevin, fortunately, was one of those perpetually perky and jovial types who wasn’t easily fazed. Why he even talked to me again after my deplorable first impression is still beyond me. As he stared at me curiously, my friend Lisa rushed to my side with a worried look on her face.

“Sharon, what is wrong?! You sound like you just saw a ghost!” Lisa exclaimed.

“They’re everywhere! I can’t escape, no matter where I go,” I muttered in a tone revealing my impending delirium.

“Who’s everywhere?”

“The Kevins! They’re popping up all over the place, like a crop of poisonous mushrooms after a bad storm!” I replied, alternating between speaking and chewing my nails down to a nub.

Before I go any further, I must, of course, give the reader, some background as to why a name as innocent sounding as Kevin could turn me into a complete mental case. As one can probably imagine, it all started with a guy named Kevin:

Kevin epitomized the phrase wolf in sheep’s clothing. Hindsight is usually 20/20, and in retrospect, it was poor judgment on my part to be chummy with him the first place, but more about that later. Without going into detail, I’ll merely say that he burned me, and burned me badly. I don’t remember when I’d felt such a seething hatred towards anyone before and, feeling perfectly justified in my bitterness and resentment, decided to hold a grudge against him. After all, I told myself, he deserved it for what he did to me.

One day, I was talking on the phone with Richard, a mutual friend of Kevin and me. As I related my tale of woe to him, he said, “Sharon, you have to let this go. I know he did you wrong, but you know what the Bible says about forgiveness.”

“How do you expect me to forgive him after what he’s done to me? Besides, I tried to work this out with him, and he did everything to send me the message that he wasn’t sorry except spit in my face!” I shot back.

“Sharon, you don’t have to convince me that he was wrong. Holding a grudge against him isn’t gonna make the pain go away!”

Thoroughly agitated at this point, I ended the conversation by saying, “Maybe it won’t make the pain go away, but it’ll at least ensure that he can’t pull one over on me ever again.”

After we hung up, I felt something change inside of me. At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was one of those surreal moments, kind of like when Bill Murray’s character in “Groundhog Day” discovered that he was reliving the same day over and over again. Yeah, my bitterness had encased me in a wall of self-protection, but I was soon to discover what had snuck in while I was building that wall.

The next morning, I awoke to snow and ice covering everything in sight, including my car. Naturally, this hadn’t been predicted in the weather report the night before, and I was running behind getting to work, too, so I put myself in overdrive as I began the task of chipping the ice off my car.

After ten minutes, I’d not made much of a dent in the glacier holding my car hostage. As I sighed in dis-gust, I saw a friendly looking middle aged man in some kind of dark blue work uniform approaching me.
“You look like you need some help there, Little Lady,” he said cheerily.

“Why thank you. I can’t believe how thick this layer of ice is on my car,” I replied, thankful for the assistance.

Another 10 minutes passed before we were successful in clearing away enough ice to open my driver’s side door. As I got in to my car, I extended my hand to the Good Samaritan and said, “Thank you so much. My name’s Sharon, by the way.”

He took my hand and replied, “You’re most welcome; my name is Kevin.”

Time stopped for a split second and a cold chill went through me. How I’d grown to hate that dreaded name! Oh well, the guy couldn’t help what his parents named him, right? And the name Kevin, although relatively common, wasn’t as popular as, say, John or Stephen, so I’d probably met my quota of Kevins that I’d have to interact with that day, right?

I turned the radio on as my car warmed up. The overly enthusiastic DJ, in a sing-song voice, said, “You’re listening to Tennessee’s Christian music station, WWDJ 89.1. John Seymour’s sick today, so I’m filling in for him. My name is Kevin Berry and…”

Uggh! There it was again. Up until that point, I didn’t realize there were quite so many Kevins in the world.

The drive to my office was rather treacherous that morning. Parts of the road had been plowed and salted, but others hadn’t. What was normally a 15 minute drive took 45. As I neared the office, about to move from the right to the left lane, a large white work van cut in front of me, causing me to swerve and drive up on the median. After regaining my composure, I looked over at the van as it sped off. Guess what it said on the side of it? “Kevin’s Mobile Motors!”

The office receptionist greeted me as I walked in the door of the health insurance network where I worked. “Rough ride this morning, huh?” she asked.

“I’ve never seen ice that thick before,” I replied.

“Just so you know, we’re still having that administrative meeting this morning. We’re going to meet the newest member of the credentialing board.”

“That’s cool. What’s his name?” I asked. (You’d think I’d know better by this point.)

“Kevin Jernigan,” she replied, oblivious to the damage her revelation was doing to my sanity.

I didn’t say anything more. I merely retreated to my desk in order to bury myself in my work for the day. Now, my job at the health insurance network was to oversee the credentialing of the doctors and facilities that wanted to be a part of our network. On a typical day, I’d get about five files, some as thick as a phone-book, of doctors whose references and credentials I needed to check before sending their applications on to the credentialing committee. Guess what the first name of the first, third, and fifth doctor in my stack of five files was? KEVIN! I was beginning to sense a pattern here.

I left my office job at noon (I only worked there part time) and headed to the detective agency where I worked the rest of the time. As I drove, I turned the Christian radio station on again, just in time to hear an interview with one of the members of DC Talk. Guess which one? Kevin Max. At that point, I decided I needed to invest in a good CD player for my car.

I walked into the detective agency and picked up my stack of assignments, which included delivering a subpoena to a local law office. I was thankful for this type of work, because it meant I’d mostly be driving in my car and not having to interact with anyone for extended periods of time.

Determined to salvage a bad day, I pasted a smile on my face as I walked into the law firm. Approaching the man at the front desk, I asked to speak with the attorney whose name appeared on the subpoena (which surprisingly enough, wasn’t Kevin). The young man watching the phones took the papers from my hand and asked me to wait while he tried to locate the attorney.

“Hey, this is Carl,” he spoke into the phone, “I’m trying to find Jerry. Do you know where he is?... Well, why don’t you ask Kevin?...What do you mean you don’t know where Kevin is? I just talked to Kevin not even thirty seconds ago…Have you looked at Kevin’s desk?...Kevin and Jerry were working on this thing together…I swear, Kevin takes more smoke breaks than anyone I know…Tell Kevin I’m looking for…What do you mean you’re not Kevin’s secretary…Well, you can tell Kevin that if Kevin worked like the rest of us in-stead of cultivating lung cancer all the time, Kevin would be thought of more highly by yours truly…Yeah, well, just give Kevin the message.”

When Carl turned back to look at me, I’m sure he was probably frightened at what he saw. I think the security video actually got footage of real smoke coming out of my ears.

“Ma’am, are you alright?” he asked sheepishly.

“Sir, I just have one question for you: DON’T YOU KNOW ANY PRONOUNS?” I screamed, dealing a deadly blow to proper business etiquette.

After ending my work day, I was looking forward to a peaceful evening at my church’s Wednesday night service, hearing a soothing message from my pastor, and then going home and quickly drifting into unconsciousness. As I walked in the front door of the church, Richard greeted me warmly.

“Hey there, Miss Private Eye, how are you?”

“Fine,” I replied unconvincingly as we made our way to our seats in the sanctuary.

“Are you sure? You look…deranged!”

“There is nothing wrong with me! Do you hear me? I’m perfectly sane. I have every right to feel what I’m feeling, and no one can tell me otherwise.”

“Sharon, are you still seething about Kevin?”

“Don’t mention that name in my presence” I shot out sarcastically just as our pastor approached the podium.

“Good evening, folks, and welcome to our mid week service,” Pastor Dan said excitedly from the pulpit, “Before we go any further, I’m pleased to announce the newest additions to our Board of Elders. Would you please give a warm round of applause to Kevin Mills and Kevin Burkowitz?”

I don’t remember anything else from that night, except the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach as I came to the realization that Kevin’s name was haunting me like a bad dream everywhere I went. It was a master conspiracy on the part of the powers that be to drive me completely batty, and the entire city of Nashville, including the Christian radio station, was in on it. I had to escape, get out of town or something, before that awful K name did me in once and for all.

The next day, Elizabeth, one of my girlfriends from church, asked me if I wanted to tag along with her to Louisville that weekend. She’d been a missionary in Africa for several years and was speaking at the churches up there that had supported her financially. I was thrilled to have the ticket out of town, so I gladly accepted her offer.

The weather was snowy that weekend, so the drive up took about two hours longer than normal. For most of the drive, a white sedan kept ahead of us, bearing the personalized Tennessee license plate reading, “Kevin 1”. Not how I’d have liked to have started my great escape.

After five exhausting hours, battling snow and the Louisville rush hour traffic, we arrived at the home of the Reeds, friends of Elizabeth’s. We would be staying with them that weekend. We made our introductions, and Shelley, the mother, introduced all of her four children. Guess what the names of the two youngest were? Richard and Kevin! Not only that, but Elizabeth and I would be sleeping in their room that weekend.

Shelley showed us up to the room. As I looked around, I saw posters, plaques, etc., with the boys’ names and initials everywhere. Directly in front of my view from the bed was one of those name plaques that show a person’s name, the meaning of the name, and a corresponding Bible verse. Yes, it was Kevin’s plaque. Turns out his name means “kind and gentle,” by the way. The verse under his name? Colossians 3:13, which says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

At this point, I tried deluding myself into thinking that my continued exposure to the K name and the alarming frequency with which it was spoken to me over the last week were mere coincidence. On that note, I retired to bed early that evening, hoping to forget that name and my childish reactions to it.

It started snowing again that night. Outside the bedroom window was a street lamp. Every so often during the night, the light would flicker due to the snow, causing me to wake up. When I’d awaken, the light from the street lamp would shine into the bedroom, illuminating a very small area on the wall opposite my bed: namely, the Kevin name plaque and that verse about forgiveness. It must’ve happened about eight times in the night before I finally surrendered my hope of getting any sleep that evening. Maybe it wasn’t coincidence after all.

The weekend passed quickly, and I was happy to get through Saturday without hearing that name. Sunday afternoon, we attempted to make our way back to the highway leading back to Nashville, only to get our-selves hopelessly lost. As we drove around, my thoughts kept drifting back to that verse. I knew at this point that I was disobeying God by holding on to my anger, and maybe hearing Kevin’s name all the time was God’s way of reminding me that I needed to let it go. I replayed in my mind my entire friendship with Kevin, how we met, the things we did together, even the nicknames we had for each other. He used to call me Ms. Stone, like Sharon Stone the actress, and I called him Mr. Costner, after Kevin Costner the actor. The more I thought about it all, however, the angrier I became, and I defiantly said to God, “Why in the world should I forgive him? Don’t You remember what he did to me? It was totally inexcusable! Do you think I’m going to open myself up to that kind of treatment again? If so, God, You are sadly mistaken!”

No sooner did I finish my dialogue with God that we finally came upon a street sign, hoping it would tell us where we were and we could then look at the map to find our way back to the highway. The name of the street we were on? Kostner Road, like Kevin Costner the actor, except Costner was spelled with a K—as in Kevin!

For the next 24 hours, all I remember is kind of floating through the minutes and hours in a numb, drug-like daze. As Monday evening approached and I drove to church for Volleyball Night, I was beginning to think that maybe holding on to a grudge was way more work than letting the grudge go. Which brings us back to the beginning of my little story here: me screaming in terror at church at a bewildered stranger who showed up at Volleyball Night, his only crime being that he shared the same first name as the one who of-fended me.

Tuesday afternoon, I went in to see my pastor for a counseling session. I related to him all the events of the past week and asked him if he thought all these Kevins I’d encountered were God’s way of telling me to let this bitterness go.

Pastor replied, “Sharon, forgiveness isn’t for Kevin’s benefit. It doesn’t sound like your grudge is hurting him any, but it’s definitely hurting you. When you forgive, you’re not saying what he did was right or having to be his friend again. You’re merely letting him off your hook and putting him on God’s hook for Him to deal with Kevin as He sees fit.”

For the first time in a week, logic took the driver’s seat in my mind and heart, and I realized what I needed to do. By holding on to bitterness, I was protecting myself to a certain extent, but in trying to keep Kevin out, I was also keeping God out. God wanted to heal me, but that whole time, all I wanted to do was be angry, and the end result was reliving all the pain the offense had caused me in the first place. Forgiveness sets me free, whereas bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness keep me locked up with the crime for me to painfully experience over and over again.

“Well, I’ve made my decision!” I told Richard confidently as we spoke on the phone.

“And what is that?” he inquired.

“I’m going to forgive Kevin completely.”

“Oh, that’s great, Sharon. God will honor you for it.”

“Yep. I’m meeting with Pastor tomorrow, and he’s going to take me through the whole forgiveness process.”

“Awesome! Let me know how it goes.”

“I will. Oh, hey, what time is it?” I asked.

“Let’s see…it’s almost 10 PM,” he answered.

“Yeesh, I need to go,” I said.

“Where are you going at this hour?”

“I’m going to Kevin’s house to slash his tires!”

“What?” Richard yelled. “I thought you just said you were going to forgive him for everything!”

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, I replied, “I am, but I’m forgiving him tomorrow, which means any revenge I want to exact I need to get in tonight!”



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