The “Jelly Bean”

I don’t remember seeing much of Ashley until the seventh grade, and then it seemed like there was a break until we were sophomores in high school.

Cue “Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright. Ashley has beautiful brown-hair that she seems to change the style of every now and then, pretty brown-eyes, a gorgeous smile that she loves to put on display, and she is about five-foot-ten-inches tall.

Getting to know Ashley is no problem, because she is so easy to talk to. She doesn’t take herself too seriously. In other words, Ashley likes to be pretty silly, sometimes, and that makes her fun! Ashley is just great with people.

One of my most favorite memories of Ashley is when we were juniors, or maybe seniors, in high school. Ashley has a very beautiful voice, which is why she got an opportunity to do a solo in the morning service at church. When Ashley got onto the stage, the music didn’t start up on time, but Ashley knew exactly what to do. Whenever you begin a sermon, testimony, or something just doesn’t go quite as planned in a Baptist church, as it did with Ashley, you talk about sports. Ashley may have brought up a Kentucky Wildcats basketball game since it was in the spring. Plus, our Louisville Cardinals were in a funk and not worth talking about.

Finally, the sound crew got it together and Ashley sang with all her heart for the Lord. I was sitting in the second row from the front, in the far right pew, and I heard a lady behind me say, “She’s so pretty!” Or at least I thought I did. I may have been coming to the realization that I wanted Ashley to somehow be a part of my life.

I went deaf two weeks before high school graduation, and Ashley soon began to attend Eastern Kentucky University. We became good friends by E-mail, and Ashley was one of the first people to actually like my jokes. When she read my jokes, for once, I wasn’t getting the same reaction that Dennis Miller would get from elementary-school kids. Dennis, we know your smart, but most people don’t even want to get off of the couch to look for the remote, much less get off of the couch to look for a dictionary or encyclopedia, or jump on the internet to try to understand your jokes.

I lost contact with Ashley for about a year. Then one Sunday morning, in the spring of 2003, a girl that looked a lot like Ashley walked into Sunday school class with Tiffany. I looked in that girl’s direction and blurted out, “Is that Ashley???” Yes, it was! When Ashley looked back at me, I asked her, “Are you going to give me a hug, or what?” With a smile on her blushing face, Ashley walked around the table to where I was sitting, we hugged, she gave me her new E-mail address, and we started talking with each other again. I soon discovered that Ashley came back to Louisville from EKU, moved into her grandparents’ house, and enrolled at Spalding University.

I don’t know when it began, exactly, but I soon realized that I liked Ashley as more than only a friend. I started thinking about her all of the time! Over the next year, I did everything from telling Ashley that she looked nice when I saw her to giving her gifts. I mostly did silly things for Ashley, like pick up a Tweety Bird sticker from my hand-surgeon’s office for her, because it reminded me of a crazy E-mail conversation that we had about Looney Tunes.

When Ashley’s twenty-first birthday rolled around, I got her a bag of jelly beans, because Ashley told me that her dad sometimes called her “jelly bean,” and she started signing off some of her E-mails to me with “Ashley Jean the jelly bean.” But I changed my mind about the jelly beans and got Ashley a stuffed black Labrador retriever, because she told me that she loved dogs, and it reminded me of a joke that Ashley told me weeks earlier that involved a black Labrador retriever.

I honestly don’t like to gamble, because I know that it’s wrong, and I’m not good at it, anyway. But I placed a modest five-dollar bet on the Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, because Ashley often called me a “Smart Alec.” I’m just a funny, dry-humor guy.

Of course when you fall for someone like I fell for Ashley, everybody and everything around you reminds you of that person.

About a year-and-a-half after Ashley came home from EKU, I finally told her how I felt about her. In the end, Ashley and I decided that we would remain only good friends. Ashley said that she would never leave me, and I’m holding her to it!

When I think about where I’ve been, where I’m at now, and what might happen to me in the future, I often think that it’s likely that God doesn’t have plans for me to be in a romantic relationship at all. But when I look on the bright side of not being in a romantic relationship, I think to myself, “At least I won’t get up in the mornings to, ‘Joey, why does it smell like asparagus in here?!’ cracking through the air like Indiana Jones’ bullwhip.”

I’d ask, “Where are you, honey?”

“My feet are stuck to the bathroom floor!” she’d scream back in disgust.

If you don’t understand that joke, you’re a happily married woman who snagged a good one, you’re the good one who was snagged (or has yet to be snagged), you’re a single woman who has a long way to go, or you’re anyone who nothing quite gets a chuckle out of you like a good joke by Dennis Miller.

Either way, I have to constantly remind myself that girlfriend, or no-girlfriend, Jesus is King.


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