Frankie and Slim

Frankie and Slim
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011


We went out to eat Monday night. Our small town has one restaurant within the city limits. It was Valentine's Day (oops I mentioned it again) and the place was packed.

We were seated near a pastor and his wife. He was a former pastor in our town at one of the large churches (if any of them are large) and almost everyone in the cafe knew the couple. They passed the table and offered friendly greetings and each group that passed by would leave a straggler who just had to make lengthy conversation...regardless of the fact that the man had his wife were out for what I would suppose was to be a romantic evening.

Being the daughter of a minister and the sister of a recently retired minister, I know the drill quite well. Everyone fawns over the pastor and ignores the wife. They might utter a friendly hello to her but their goal is to monopolize the great and powerful OZ. There is not one place that is safe to go out in public because a minister will run into someone they know regardless. Plus, if they try to stay home, someone will have a valid reason to invade even their personal space no matter what the preacher's family might be doing. The preacher expects all that when he makes a decision to enter the ministry but do the wives really know what they are getting into? Do ministers realize how devoted their spouses have to be to put up with living in the shadows?

This woman in the restaurant smiled and nodded and as the crowd grew around her husband I watched her slowly turn and prop her legs across the booth seat, preventing anyone from seating themselves next to her. She managed this slowly and gracefully while smiling and appearing interested. I wished my mom had been a preacher's wife in a time when slacks were proper attire for women. She probably could have used this trick and I can't help but wonder if my Sil knows about it.

Just out of curiosity if you happen to have a church affiliation, do you believe that entitles you to an amount of ownership in your minister over and above his (or her) family?


  1. It's strange but of all of my Pastor and wife friends. (both tired and retired) The wives seem to all have rather large personalities and aren't in the shadows. And no I don't interrupt them in public places past the usual cordial greetings. I suppose I'm pretty sensitive about that because I'm usually the one sitting and listening to someone talk about their dog with my wife while I try to decide if it would be impolite to start eating that bowl of soup before it gets colder. (Marilyn is considered the resident expert on small animals in a two county area. If you need a particular breed of pet, or are having trouble with one, or you have one that needs it's coat saved from the ravages of time or horse manure, or skunks, than you must talk to my wife during dinner.)

  2. I am certain that this would happen to my pastor and his wife more often, except they live about 20 miles from the church, so aren't dining out in our neighborhood that often.

    But I was at a neighborhood restaurant with our former pastor and his wife one night and that exact thing happened that you describe - the multitudes stopped by. His wife smiled graciously and suspended her eating when church members stood and chatted. Not me, I felt ignored and didn't care, so kept eating my dinner. :)

  3. I have always tried to be aware of the limits of his/her time. A restaurant is certainly no place to trap a minister and his wife (or a doctor either) and I would never do that, beyond saying hello.
    Minister's wives are like the older siblings of new babies. One should always greet the older child first!

  4. I value privacy a lot. For those who are in positions that are public, it must be hellish to deal with what happens when out and about doing ordinary things.

  5. I wish they could wear do not disturb signs around their necks!!!

  6. I don't think anyone should feel ownership over a minister or their family. My mother and grandmother and aunt have all been in the minister's wife role and in a nutshell, it sucks.

  7. No, I don't believe that at all. I do go to church and say hello - but then again I am on the shy side.


  8. I don't believe we should have ownership in our partners or kids, let alone the minister of our church.

    It reminds of the lyrics to Eminem's "The Way I Am"

    "But at least have the decency in you
    To leave me alone, when you freaks see me out
    In the streets when I'm eatin or feedin my daughter
    To not come and speak to me (speak to me)..
    I don't know you and no,
    I don't owe you a m**-****-in thing"

    My partner had a high profile job a couple of years back, and people used to almost push me out the way to talk to my partner. I didn't care though, because I didn't want to talk to them anyway. :D

  9. Cliff – Most people are like you and offer a hello then keep walking. It is the few that linger, and linger, and linger, that get me. You should eat your soup when Marilyn is cornered and the other “shadow” spouses should do the same.

    Lynn – My dad and my brother both have been out of town or out of state and still run into someone they know. We used to take bets in the family about whether or not we could go into a restaurant or other public place without running into someone who knew dad. We rarely did.

    kenju -- Love the older sibling analogy. None of us like to see the older children ignored for the new baby. We always take a gift for the older child when welcoming a new child.

    Talon – I love my privacy too and wonder how lonely some people must be to never see they should not occupy a person in public unless that person was there to meet with them. And why can’t the minister simply say, “I’d love to hear more about that so why don’t you make an appointment to come to my office and chat next week?”

    Brown English Muffin – That is such a great suggestion. LOL

    Riot Kitty – Did I ever tell you about a friend of mine whose “preacher’s wife” mother was buried with her house key. Their retirement home was the only home they ever owned that the “parsonage committee” couldn’t control and she was never giving up her key”.

    Chatty Crone – I would say you are more on the polite side than the shy side.

    LL Cool Joe – Those are wise words from Eminem. The only problem is the fans believe their purchase of his music makes him theirs just like the church members believe because they pay the preacher’s salary he owes them 24 hours a day.

  10. Annie. Our pastor has a unique way of preparing a yearly preaching calendar and for studying for important series of sermons. He holes up in a Las Vegas hotel for a week and studies to his heart's content. "If it's 3:30 in the morning and I want to go for a walk, why, it's safe out there with all those people. I can eat anytime I want, sleep anytime I want--and the phone never rings."

    I think our pastor's wife is fantastic. She teaches Junior Hi kids in a Christian school. She's a great Bible teacher at church. Busy, busy, busy as you might imagine. We love her.

    We don't claim "ownership." That ain't right. Try to avoid it, if possible, but I do like to share the golden nuggets I've gleaned from their sermons/lessons.

    We've never met them but twice in public (JCPenney and a shoe store for kids) and only said Hi cuz we were in a hurry, too.

    This is a good post.

  11. Paul -- Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the post. Sounds like your pastor has the perfect plan for sneaking away. Our family used to treasure dad's two weeks of vacation. We would leave town and stay in remote areas of Colorado and watch our Dad and Mom relax and laugh and we all had a ball. Still we would manage to run into at least one person who knew dad. LOL