Friday, February 19, 2010

Psychological Sit-Ups

Pictured above:  A typical TNT night, featuring Noel Cecil, Mary Mercadante,
Elizabeth Tillman and Carrie Burton
Every now and then in youth ministry you lose control of a situation.  In my case, it was usually my fault.  But sometimes circumstances just surprise you.  Here is one such story.

One of the reasons our TNT program at Springfield Friends Meeting became so popular among students was our willingness to be goofy and daring with our programming.  It helped that we had goofy and daring students on our ministry,too! We often did stunts that ended with someone getting wet or receiving a pie in the face.  Our favorite way of delivering the whipped cream pie was a stunt called Psychological Sit-Ups.  It worked like this:  I would announce that I had acquired a Spock-like power of pinching a nerve in a person's neck and rendering them paralyzed.  It required an elaborate set-up for me to accomplish this, and I would ask for a volunteer to help me demonstrate.  I would blindfold them, cover them in towels and sheets, and lay them on a table.  I would apply the pinch as the crowd began chanting "you can't sit can't sit can't sit up..."  The chant would grow louder and louder until I would scream SIT UP!  The person on the table would be unable to move- because they were in on the stunt.  After two such performances, it was easy to find a third volunteer who didn't know the trick and was eager to prove me a fraud.  We would go through the whole show a third time, only this time, the over zealous victim would sit straight up- into a waiting pie held by another student.  It was a classic stunt that I used for many years.  And it almost always worked.

One night at TNT we were had a number of new people (which of course is the only way it worked- once you saw it, you had to be pretty stupid to fall for it...) and so we broke out the pie.  Things were going along just fine, and the victim was a Trinity High School girl whose name escapes me (Lynn Prevette, maybe?).  As we got into the stunt, the pie appeared as usual, and was handed to another girl, Pam Collins.  Pam was friend of our Amy Simmons and, we thought, of the victim.  What I didn't know was that on that very Monday they had gotten into an argument over a boy, and tensions were still running high.  So when the victim sat up, the pie was not just waiting for her- the pie was SMASHED into her face with great force!  I thought for sure it broke her nose.  There were gasps from the gathered crowd as I moved in to try and ease her pain and clean her up to make sure she wasn't injured.  It was one of those thousands of youth ministry moments that is funny now...not so much then.

After that, only students I knew well got to hold the pie.  And we moved on to another pie delivery stunt- Speed Kissing.  But that's for another day!

Because of Jesus,

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