Speaking With the Branch Brother
January 22, 2020
A story, with opening background:
I have always been ‘out there’ in appearance (for a brother), at times downright shaggy, with hair falling over my ears, and I don’t fuss much with combing it, usually not at all. I don’t fully trust anyone who has not a hair out of place. I don’t like cuff-links either, though I will concede that some will wear them and figure that they are like the fine seamless garment Jesus wore. Nobody would rebuke the Lord with: “Why don’t you wear a regular garment from the Goodwill so no one thinks you are putting on airs.” They would not say that, so cuff links get a free pass, too, but I would never wear the stupid things.
Amazingly, I have never been counseled on general shagginess, despite all the carrying on about ‘dress that befits a minister of GodI’—which rubs me the wrong way when it is overdone. I’ve had speaking assignments at the District Convention, now called Regionals. I can only surmise that my personality otherwise offsets a moderately (at times) unorthodox appearance.
In my 50’s, after my eldering days, I got into the habit of moussing my hair when it got long, running my fingers through it once so it stayed off my forehead, and I would go about my day with it spiked up, flopping over any way it liked as gravity took over. If I see a young woman with green hair, I won’t harrumph as many of our people would—I’ll say, “Huh! You know, I kind of like that.” These days I am less that way and I now say to the barber: “Look, so long as you are not thinking “US Marine,” cut it as short as you like—even if you get it too short, I will not complain—it grows back.* That way I don’t have to horse with it for a while.
Brother Lloyd of the US Branch gave the talk at our Assembly Hall. He is an old-timer who has been around forever. The place was packed out. For reasons I don’t remember, my wife and I arrived late and we were shoehorned into the only two seats available—directly in front of him.
His talk was hard-hitting, the type you used to hear from old-timers and the type that you will not hear today—‘if you do not make time for Jehovah, maybe he will not make time for you’ was the tone some of it took.
Now, I am not one of those brothers who has to track down the speaker so as to shake his hand. If I don’t speak with him at all, that is perfectly fine by me. I have stated here that I would love to have a Governing Body member stay at my house so I could ignore him (which would probably make me popular in his eyes). “There’s your room. Come down and hang out if you like, but don’t feel you have to—I know that you have things to do, if only unwinding free of persons who you have to talk to,” is what I would say to him.
So after the closing prayer I turn around with my spiked hair and find myself face to face with him—the crowds have not closed in yet. I exchange a few pleasantries—nice of him to make the sacrifice to travel, and so forth, and he says, almost with a twinkle, “I wasn’t too hard on you brothers, was I?”
“Well,” I said, “we’ll adjust.”
......*With regard to not complaining about a bad haircut, I remember reading a book by Peter Lynch, the Fidelity fund manager known for investing in what he liked. He bought a ton of Dunkin Donut stock and it went to the moon—his interest first piqued because he loved their coffee. He also bought Supercuts. True to method, he went there first to get a haircut. He thought he looked a little funny as he left, but he allowed that it might simply be due to some new style that he was unaware of. The horrified look on the faces of his wife and daughters convinced him that it was not. The CEO, when he related the experience to him, observed cheerfully that hair grows back at 6 inches per....some quantity of time that I forget.
Lynch is the same fund manager who once observed of General Motors: “The nicest thing I can say about it is that it is a terrible company.” I never forgot that line.