When I was a senior in high school — more than 20 years ago — I attended a Methodist church after an invite from Fritchman (he was always inviting people to church — he has a gift for that sort of thing). Eventually, there was a whole group of us there. The pastor of my current church served as the youth minister of that Methodist church. For the sake of this story, we’ll call him Tom. I don’t want to speak for him, but it didn’t take long for Tom to notice that the group of us had a certain energy — especially together.
One day, Fritchman, Kooky and Sean decided to have some fun with a video camera. (I was working this particular day, so I missed out on the first videos.) Sean had the camera. Fritchman and Kooky decided to do a video on the differences between life in Christ and life without Him. There was a cigar involved. The hugging of a tree. And a banana. To this day, I still catch myself periodically uttering 2 phrases from that video: “The answer?” (in a high-pitched, nerdy voice) and “Want a banana?”
So we showed this video to Tom. For some reason, he thought it was hilarious. He said he was planning a talk on peer pressure and asked us to do a video on that theme. Simple enough, right?
So we met at my house, brainstormed a plot and found some props. There were jelly beans. A beach ball. A bucket hat. And an old Boy Scout shirt that my step-brother had in his closet. (I was never a Boy Scout. I was a Cub Scout for about 6 months but quit when we never went camping. I earned a Bobcat badge and a Wolf badge before hanging it up though.) It was decided that I would play the boy who was dealing with the peer pressure. So I wore the Boy Scout shirt. Of course, right? Who succumbs to peer pressure more than Boy Scouts? It’s not all walking grannies across the street and archery demonstrations, you know. I also wore the bucket hat, which is not a part of the Boy Scout uniform. (Important distinction, we thought.)
The gist of the story was that I was enticed by the popular kids to try drugs — hence the jelly beans. (They showed up better on our no-budget camera.) In time, I gave in to the pressure and tried the drugs. At the end of the video, Kooky runs into the room to find me OD-ed on the bed. He bends over my sprawled body and yells out something like “I told you not to try the green ones!” Bent over, we get the slightest glimpse of Kooky’s crack. And then we hear him whisper “trucker butt.” Fade to black.
This wasn’t Sundance material. It may not have even been worth youtube had Gore invented the innernets earlier. But it delivered “a” message about peer pressure, which was our task. We showed it to Tom. Again, he thought it was hilarious. You’d think this is where the story ends, because I already gave you the “trucker butt” line and that is the title of the post. But you’d be wrong.
Tom decided to show the video at MYF on Sunday night. He decided that he’d show it at senior high and junior high. The senior high folks laughed hard, in part, because some of their own were in it. I was not present for the junior high showing, but I can imagine they — for the most part — thought it was funny too. It turns out though that one junior high kid was in the Boy Scouts, and when he saw the video, all he focused on was the shirt I was wearing. Uneasy about the implications of doped-up scouts run amok, he mentioned the video to his father when he arrived home. His father was a little more than “uneasy” about what his son told him he viewed that night. . . at junior high MYF . . . at church!
Now keep in mind, the father never actually watched the video. I am sure if he had viewed the piece, he would’ve been overwhelmed by the obvious parody captured on tape. That’s neither here nor there, because the father decided to talk to the senior pastor of the church about the outlandish video that he thought disparaged (even unintentionally) the fine name of the Boy Scouts. This resulted in a meeting between the pastor and Tom. Correction is never fun. I’ll just say that.
And thus began the age of censorship in youth ministry video snippets.
It was unfortunate too because a couple of months later, we were working on a man-on-the-street type video. We were walking through Kroger late one night. Tom was on the mic trying to ask people some questions. We look down one aisle. A mother is perusing cans of soup. Her daughter is sitting in the cart looking at us. Precious little angel of about 5 or 6. I point the camera at the girl. She gave me the finger. That’s right. The one-finger salute. She told us we were #1. Unbelievable! You can’t write this stuff. We decided not to show this at Youth Camp that year regardless of the comedic content. (See, we are teachable.)
These videos still exist because Fritchman’s dad showed them at his rehearsal dinner. But I haven’t seen them since that night. Hopefully, they remain in safekeeping because Keegan will need to learn about peer pressure one day too.