In Which I Rock A Little Old Lady’s World View

Shoppily, droppily,
Digital Cuttlefish
Needed some groceries, so
Went to the store;

There, he encountered an
Wonderful lady; he’d
Met her before.

Cheerfully, dearfully,
Sociable Gloria
Chats with the customers
Making them smile

Using her natural
Brightening everyone’s
Lives for a while

Affably, laughably
Sweetie-pie Gloria
Says, of our Cuttlefish,
“Oh, such a dear!

Seldom you witness such
You’ve found the gospel of
Jesus, it’s clear!”

Laughingly, gaffeingly,
Your Humble Cuttlefish
Gently explained “I’m
An atheist, ma’am”

Atheist joy is no
Smiling’s not Jesus, it’s
Just who I am.”

Earlier this week I went to the grocery store, and (like the verse says), the 82-yr-old bagger (who is sweet as anything, and social enough for 3 people, so they put her with a cashier who rarely speaks at all, and they get along famously) was oohing and aahing over an adorable little girl, then looks up and sees me: “oh, I know him, he is always so joyful!” I make my way through the line, and eventually, as she is bagging my bread flour, she says (in an uncharacteristically soft voice) “I need to ask you something”. But she does not. Out in the parking lot, though, she comes running out with a bag of groceries I had forgotten (had she hidden it?), and gets to ask the question. With me always in a good mood, and her as a believer, she finds it must be the case that I have the Joy of the Lord in me–is she right?

“Actually, I’m an atheist. I act this way because we have just one life, and it is in our hands to make it the best it can be for ourselves and others.”

I am not quite certain how to read her expression after that. I get the feeling that “happy atheist” did not compute, and that she might well be concerned for the fate of my soul. She only works part time, so it might be a while before we run into one another again.

I am looking forward to it.


  1. says

    We’re too amiable to wax captious over your duplicate usage. It could well be intentional for emphasis of the rank instability of human moods and vulnerabilities. You would nto want to disconvert her from her life-long faith nor lead her to believe she could convert you. You clearly care about this sweet lady. If she can understand that there are indeed such beings as happy atheists, it may broaden her horizons in a positive way. Smile on!

  2. Cuttlefish says

    That is indeed my hope. Gloria is a sweetie, and (at least until recently) she thinks I am, too. It would be a very good thing for her to realize that sweeties come in all flavors.

  3. Thorne says

    I had a similar experiene sevral years ago with woman at a local eatery. I was eating there regularly and had been involved in political discussions with other regulars. One day, when the others were not there, she asked me which church I attend (a common question in SC.) WHen I told her I was an atheist she was quite literally stunned. “But you’re such a nice person!” she said. We have become friends over the years, ever since her Pastor told her she shouldn’t be speaking to a heathen like me. She now refers to me a Satan’s stepson, and has changed churches at least twice since I’ve known her.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Yeah, I have had a few such incidents. One, a non-traditional student who needed a *lot* of help, I don’t think ever actually believed that I was an atheist. Just did not fit her staunch Catholic world view. Another just calls me his “atheist friend” in a sort of bemused fashion.

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