Adam and Eve
by Paul Crenshaw
It started with the serpent and the fruit, we were told, there in the garden, in the beginning.
This would have been 6th grade Sunday School, us in our stiff suits sitting in chairs almost too small for our still- growing bodies, our hair sprayed back as stiff as our suits and Mrs. Miliken (as I’ll call her) telling us of original sin.
We all knew the story: the serpent came to Eve and told her of the fruit of knowledge. Eve disobeyed God and ate the apple, then Adam ate and then they became aware of their burgeoning bodies, burgeoning being a word we had heard in Health class, when Coach Barnard stumbled through a speech about our approaching adolescence. They covered themselves and hid from God, the same way we covered ourselves occasionally in the locker room when the cheerleaders were spinning out on the gym floor and our burgeoning bodies got away from us during our approaching adolescence.
We also knew what they were ashamed of. Besides the cheerleaders during 4th period PE, we’d learned in Biology of the pistil and stamen, and being men in boy’s skin had already associated them with penis and hymen. From there it wasn’t a far stretch to connect the serpent and fruit to the sin of sex, else why would the Bible have mentioned the shame of the naked self.
“Eve ran from the garden because she saw Adam’s serpent,” Michael Lyles said, standing outside the church in the brief silence after Sunday School, and Danny Wilkins told us Adam hid from God not because of the fruit of the tree but because of what he’d seen between Eve’s thighs.
“Had he eaten there?” Michael asked, and we grew light- headed with want, giddy with guilt and desire.
“Did Eve,” Wilkins said, all of us howling with glee, “swallow Adam’s serpent?”
The organ (another word for us to find funny) sounded through the stained glass, and we started shuffling toward the sermon.
“Did he taste her cherry?” Michael said as we went in, and I swear to God that even the greatest of us sinners swooned at such a thought.
Of course I don’t remember the sermon. I didn’t hear it that day, still thinking of serpents and fruit, because how easy it was back then to become lost in allegory.
Whatever sin the sermon spoke of, we heard the minister say sex, for nothing else occupied our minds. Nothing else could move us so much, nothing more could cause men to disobey so damn often.