My inner voice is easily influenced by what I read. When it’s Kurt Vonnegut, I say “so it goes” a little too much and picture myself as a Tralfamadorian in my daydreams. After reading the seventh Harry Potter book, I was the protagonist of my own magical adventure, with wizard and Muggle pals who didn’t mind if I muttered “Wingardium Leviosa” over my school sandwiches.
But what happens when the book I’m reading is the Bible? Since one of my classes this semester is Christine Hayes’ “The Old Testament,” it’s the dominant book of my life. I go about Yale with an inner voice never before encountered (and one that’s a bit archaic).
This archaic inner voice caught me in a low moment a few Saturdays ago, as I bought food with my good friend Sam Lasman ’12 at Stop & Shop. We spent the better part of an hour finding the best stir-fry sauces and least controversial vegetables for our improv group’s annual “Welcome, Viola Question Freshmen” dinner. What was originally a venture intended to be quick became a stop & linger after searching endlessly for sriracha (an Asian chili paste we couldn’t find) and debating even longer over the merits of buying a bell pepper. And if so, red, green or yellow?
Finally though, we rolled our cart of goodies back to the car and I crawled into the passenger seat like a little girl, sleepy after running errands with Mommy all day. Off-campus activities can tire me. When all our bags were in the trunk and I was buckling myself in, Sam got a call from Alex: “I need ingredients for my potato-chip-encrusted-beer-battered-and-fried chicken! It’ll go great with the stir-fry — I just need the chips, beer and chicken. Oh and a frying pan if we don’t have one.”
“Sure thing, Alex,” said Sam as he hung up the phone.
“Sure thing?! But — but we’re just leaving. We’ve packed up, I’m buckled in.” Mommy had never betrayed me like this during our errands of yore.
“But Alex wants different ingredients. Let’s run back in.”
“He should have called earlier. Tell him it’s too late. Tell him to batter and fry something else! We won’t get back in time to make dinner.” The level of my childish resistance surprised me.
“No, Ktown. I’ll go back. Why don’t you stay here and guard the groceries.”
Guard the groceries. Even as I blatantly refused to be helpful, Sam still painted me as a useful person.
As I valiantly protected the groceries, I reflected on my weekend homework still undone, including an analysis of Genesis: 29–30. I had read so much in the weeks before that my inner voice couldn’t help but slip into the narrative of an Old Testament writer.
“This is ridiculous. I’m not even going to eat the chicken. How is Sam so stoic all the time? He’s been in there at least 20 minutes! If Alex really wants some Bud light and crackers he can come here himself.”
… And so it was that Katharine, daughter of Colleen from the land of California, hardened her heart against the gifts of the Lord, and forgot to walk in the light of His ways while waiting in the Stop & Shop parking lot.
Suddenly the word of the Lord came to Katharine in a vision, as she wearily rested her head against the seatbelt.
“Katharine, thou art acting poorly. Dost thou not remember that I, your Lord and savior, giveth unto you in your times of need? Should not Alex receiveth samely? It is not thy right to divine the importance of his beer and potato chips.”
“Lord, I am sorry. I am tired and act selfishly. I shall go forth into the land of Crown and Howe Streets with renewed faith of purpose. Do not smite me.”
“I will bless you and I will make your name great.”
Dinner ended up a joyous occasion, and I happily crushed Lay’s chips while Sam chopped bell peppers, Alex oiled up the frying pan, and various other VQ-ers set the table and played music. One of the rules of improv is to work together. I continue learn this through the fine examples of my friends and the voice of God in my head — which will probably remain there until the end of this semester and another book inspires my personal narrative. I think I’ll reread “Pride and Prejudice” this winter break. That’ll give me an excuse to have flirtatious and witty repartees.