As a child, the only time I got to go to Mass was when my step Father was "just" drunk enough to take us to the Saturday night edition, or sometimes when I slept over at a schoolmates home they'd let me tag along on Sunday morning.
I always loved church, and since I didn't get enough of it, I tried to make the most of each visit by having an exhausting list of questions answered.
During a particular Sunday school class I remember informing Sister "so and so" that I made it an everyday practice of cutting deals with God.
When she asked for an example I might have said something like "I hit a homerun today because I didn't bother my sister!"
The Nun responded by telling me that I was way off base, that God doesn't cut deals, God only does things on God's terms.
I'm sure her views are connected to some deep theology that was formed by some brilliant Austrian monk, or maybe some progressive Italian Cardinal....but I didn't believe it then, and I don't believe it now.
As mentioned in the past....Danny Klecko is a Pollack, and I think often times my peeps are a lot like those cats from Mizzou, if they are the "Show Me" state, Poland for sure has to be the "Show Me" country.
This morning when I went outside it felt significantly colder than other mornings this winter, you know....cold enough where you stand on the stoop and re evaluate if you need to get a hoodie, or if you need to get another layer of something.
As I was weighing my options on my front steps, I saw a cat dart across the street and I thought "Dude....isn't it a little cold to not be in a house?"
And then I had one of those Kwai-Chang-Kane moments, remember that show Kung Fu, where he would flash back to his childhood in that Shaolin temple?
Then his old-blind master would whoop his a** with those bamboo rods LOL?
Well when I saw that cat, my mind flashed back to January 1991 when I was working at a bakery on West 7th street. It was demonic cold outside, and when the sun went down a black cat was found screeching at our back door. We brought the frozen creature into the office and made a makeshift bed out of jackets and fed it some warm milk.
I worried out the undersized kitty all night long. Throughout the evening I tried to push the cat off on somebody, after all I had a girlfriend and 2 kids (one of them was only 4 months old).
As you can imagine, nobody wanted to take the furry orphan, so before leaving, I held her up in the air while standing on a stack of flour bags and exclaimed......
"Woe unto to you thoughtless bakers, today Danny Klecko will announce before you and God that he will take care of this cat, and by doing so will expect God to realize his helping spirit. I am going to name this cat LUCKY DUCK and just you wait and see what kind of blessing fall my way."
One of my co workers with a limited knowledge of the scriptures pointed out that I had just blown my heavenly rewards by bragging, but I countered by pointing out that-that was fine, I was still at point in life where I needed to cash in those blessings on Earth. Heavenly treassures would have to be collected sometime later.
When I got home everybody loved Lucky Duck, and I explained the covenant to my family. Sue McGleno just rolled her eyes, but my daughter smiled and mentioned she wasn't aware you could cut deals with God.
Danny Klecko grinned hard at that.
So now a couple days go by, and it is 10 below zero w/o wind chill. My family was a 1 car family. I always gave the car to Sue McGleno and walked-bussed or skateboarded where I was going for years.
At this juncture in our life we had a rickety old Renault, and just as I was getting home one morning I was told it was shot. Sue McGleno has a brother that is a mechanic at one of the airlines. he's one of those guys who is capable of building rocket ships from yogurt containers, and he said we'd be lucky to get 100 miles out of it even if we sunk $1000's into it.
I crawled into bed and felt sick to my stomach, Sue McGleno still had 1 year left of college, I had a baby that needed to get check ups monthly, and we were just on the brink of needing to go to the laundry mat. Our family bank account had less than $500 in it to top things off.
So before Danny Klecko slid into a dream state, he cried out to the Lord like David did when he was in one of his whiny moods........
"Father in Heaven, are you kidding me? Am I this big of a loser. I can't even provide the essentials for these people I live with, I really feel like a complete loser,I got people depending on me, infant dependents,, I won't be a quitter, but if you just want to kill me in my sleep....I would welcome that and wouldn't blame you!"
Seriously, I remember that prayer like it was issued yesterday. So I wake up that afternoon and don't say a word. I got dressed and I defied the elements by walking to work. Once my shift was about 1/2 way done, I had temporarily forgotten my strife.
But then the phone rang, and somebody from the packing department screamed out "Klecko - personal phonecall on line 2."
When I picked up the receiver I could hear Sue McGleno laughing.
And, if you know anything about Sue McGleno, you know that happens about as often as an eclipse takes place. In a way this tone made me even more annoyed, and I mentioned I didn't have time for such frivolity. But, she just told me the following......
"Oh-My-God....you will never believe it. I had just put the kids to bed and all of a sudden I heard the most awful crash outside our house (at this time we lived @ 1601 James which was a quiet side street in Saint Paul) and when I looked out the window, I noticed some guy had plowed his SUV into our car and totaled it!!!"
So I grabbed Mike Tessmer who was a pro body builder who was working at the bakery to save money for computer school and the 2 of us ran over to my house.
The dude who hit our paralyzed auto was drunk, and he felt just awful. Then, with miraculous timing my neighbor pulled into his driveway, he saw the accordion shaped vehicles and French auto shrapnel strewn across our street so he came over to see if he could lend a hand.
When he got to my sidewalk, he knew the guy who hit me, and mentioned that he heard about the lay off he was recently subjected to.
Now I'm kinda feeling sorry for the drunk, and he says its getting cold so if I could, would I just call the Police and get it over with.
I looked Sue McGleno in the eyes and smiled, I turned to the other 2 guys and told them.....
"You'll never understand this, but you were used as a vessel of God to help my family tonight. It all started because I took in a freezing black cat. I think if I called the blue on you tonight, I might go to hell. So if you give me your license, and swear to God that you will be back tomorrow at 8 a.m., I'll save you from getting a DUI." My neighbor reiterated that if he didn't show, he'd help me break his legs.
Dude actually got there 10 minutes early, when the cop showed up, he seemed suspicious for some reason, He walked around measuring skid marks and asked questions with a stern voice, but we stuck to our story and everything worked out like just like the ending of a Disney movie.
Within a week I got a check and had the coolest Ford Escort you'd ever seen.
So even though its 20 years after the fact, I am glad to see cats in the snow. It will always keep me humble. It will always stir a gratitude in me that I am unable to measure.
So in closing, I will say that God probably doesn't negotiate, but God certainly cuts deals, and if you are smart, you might want to plug into that.
Thank You Lucky Duck.......RIP