Snuggle Suit
John Norberg, humor columnist s

His suit was black and formal. His tie was gold and expensive resting on a white shirt that had seen him through many a business meeting and surely a banquet or two.

The creases in his trousers were bold and perfect and his face reflected in his black leather shoes. The young man sat in the pew at church beside me looking like something out of GQ magazine or an ad for Men's Warehouse "You're going to like the way you look."

He looked good. Successful. At the top of the world.

Beside him sat his wife and two little girls and before the preacher had even begun to list our sins the tiniest of the two children in a pink, ruffled dress crawled upon his lap. She snuggled up against him, rested her tired head on his shoulder, closed her eyes and went to meet her dreams, her gold curls falling on his own golden tie.

I looked down the pew at him hoping he wouldn't see me. I saw his little girl cuddling in his lap. The fine creases on his well-pressed pants were gone, replaced by haphazard wrinkles that looked messy and unkempt. Her body pressed against his suit coat adding even more wrinkles and she rested her head on his expensive tie creasing it as well.

The pastor went on preaching forgiveness, but all I could think about was the young man in the expensive, formerly well-pressed suit holding his little girl.

She squirmed in his lap and I could tell that the blood had stopped flowing to his legs. They were numb. The heat of her body caused beads of perspiration to form on his forehead. His arms wrapped around her and I knew they also felt numb as the pastor reached salvation.

I knew his soul could be save. I wasn't sure about his suit.

The man shifted in the pew and tried to rearrange the weight on his tired body. He leaned toward his wife and whispered to her. I couldn't hear what he said. But I knew what he was thinking.

"Do you want to hold her for awhile?" he said. "I think she wants to be with you."

"I wouldn't take the pleasure away from you," she answered with a smile and put her arm around the older girl who was sitting quietly in the pew.

There was now a bit of drool on the man's fine gold tie as his princess slept through the sermon and the promise that all of us will be saved. In the comfort of her father's embrace she didn't seem worried about salvation. She knew she was safe. The world was a safe place in her daddy's arms. She had nothing to fear but the bicycle she had left at home in the middle of the street after her daddy had told her to put it in the garage before they left. She was confident in his forgiveness. And she was right.

Sharp pains were running up from the man's knees to his hips and he felt as if this little girl was pressing him into the pew. He hadn't realized quite how heavy she was. As the pastor preached the saving grace of prayer the man prayed that the sermon would soon end so he could stand, stretch his legs and determine if they were still connected to his body inside his wrinkled suit.

When the service ended the little girl climbed down in her pink dress looking fresh and new while her father looked like he'd spent two weeks at the bottom of the laundry hamper.

"I was watching you during the service," I said.

"I know," he answered.

I told him it reminded me of when our little girl slept on my lap and wrinkled my suit in church. That was many years ago. But I told him I could still feel her pressed against my chest, my legs numb, my arms exhausted. And as I watch him I had only one thought in my mind.

I wished I could do it all again.

"Do you know how lucky you are?" I said.

"Yes," he answered. "And I understand exactly how you feel and how much you miss your own children. So if you'd like to borrow my little girl next Sunday I am more than willing to share."

I hadn't expected that.

I wonder if my wife knows where I can find my wrinkled, little girl snuggling suit buried somewhere in my closet