Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Story Worth Telling Twice

Today is Comment Day.  Read all the blogs you can.  Comment on each blog you read.  Encourage the writers- and feel free to start here!

The other night I was sitting at Tijuana Flats enjoying Taco Tuesday with Marilyn and our dear friend Lisa Jewett, and as often happens we began to talk about New York trips.  I never come out looking good in these conversations.  In 2002 Lisa accompanied myself and a group from Wesley Memorial UMC to the city, and while there we saw the musical Moving Out on Broadway.  Marilyn was not with us for this trip, and seeing as how she is one of the world's biggest Billy Joel fans it did not go over well that we saw it without her.  She still has never seen the show, and I am still in trouble.  Two years later Marilyn got to go but Lisa did not, after I messed up and told Lisa her son was too young to go and then let another young man the same age go with his Mom on the trip.  Lisa reminds me constantly that I still owe her a trip.  Again, I am in trouble.  But I digress.  The point is that we were talking about New York trips when I discovered Lisa had never heard the tale of the great shower escapade.  As I told the story and she laughed hysterically, I realized that while some stories get told too often, others can never be told enough.  I related this episode on this blog back on January 4, 2010- along with a few other stories from that trip.  Today I tell it again.  Because it is definitely a story worth telling twice...

Charles & Mike show off their artistic side
at The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Mike Mercadante and Charles Freedle were among the great characters I ever had in any of my youth groups.  They joined us on one of our New York trips in the early 199o'sn and I knew before we ever left that having those 2 in NYC would me memorable.  Among the many other unique people on this trip was a young man from Yadkinville, NC named Josh.  Yadkinville is a small, rural town in the foothills of NC, and Josh was a stereotypical citizen.  He spoke "Yadkinese" (a dialect that even the rest of us with southern accents have trouble interpreting!), was a little shy, and was a family oriented young man (read Mama's Boy!).  We discovered on the long bus ride to NYC that he was a huge fan of TV, and that is his humble opinion Full House was the best show ever and one of its characters, Kimmy Gibler, was the most beautiful woman on TV.  Josh was ready to go home before we ever got out of the Lincoln Tunnel; New York scared him to death.  He was about to get the most terrifying news of all- he was rooming with Mike and Charles at the Milford Plaza Hotel!  The story you are about to read is true, because quite frankly I couldn't make up anything this good.

Our days started early on those trips, and the first morning our shy, frightened young Josh was first in the shower.  He took quite a long shower, and it began to be close to time for everyone to meet in the lobby to head out for the day. After asking Josh to come out on a couple of occasions, my guys began to get frustrated.   Finally, Charles could take no more.  The tall, string-bean skinny country boy grabbed a towel, stripped naked, entered the bathroom, pulled back the shower curtain and announced to Josh, "You can stay or you can go, but I'm coming in!"  Josh left, of course, and within minutes I had a call from a woman from his church saying Josh wanted to go home, or at least get a new room.  I calmed her down, and (laughing hysterically as she told me the story) kept them together all week.  The event did nothing to ease Josh's fears of life in the big city, and he stayed close to the adults the rest of the week.  Mike and Charles went on to share many other adventures with myself and our ministry.  I heard many years later that Josh was the Mayor of Yadkinville (or some small town in that same county).  Charles now spends most of his time in southeast Asia running an import/export business.  And Mike is a hotshot business man in High Point.  I guess students do survive these crazy adventures and move on with their lives.  But for me, they will always be connected through that trip and one very funny moment in the shower!

Because of Jesus,


  1. That is great! Whatever happened to Josh? NYC is a great place to do a little 'cross-cultural work' especially with youth from the South (being from the south I can attest to this!) about how different life is in other places, even within the US. Thanks for sharing this great youth work story! It's made the start of my day great!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Shae. I expect to learn any day now that Josh is running for president..

  3. As one never involved in youth activities growing up, I love reading stories about the (mis)adventures. :)

    Happy #CommentDay!

  4. Anonymous12/01/2011

    Ah yes thanks for the memories Carl!!! The mugging remains to this day one of the most positively terrifying experiences EVER! And on a side note I hope Josh turned out OK lol! ~Charles

  5. So i've commented twice, and for some reason it didn't work. So lets try this again. Thanks Carl for sharing your heart! Thanks for uniting youth workers from all over with your blog and tweets! I wish I was better at taking pictures and keeping them from past events like you have. But before Facebook years, I do not have too many pictures from my early years in youth ministry!

  6. Thanks for sharing it again, Carl! ...I still remember the "mugging" and by the time the story made it back to Springfield, Mike & Charles had a knife held to their throats and had been in the hospital all week!

    This is still the most epic youth ministry story I've ever heard!

  7. Christopher, I love telling the stories. They are such a part of my life! Charles and Ashley, sounds like I might need to revisit the mugging story soon as well. Eric, I have thousands of pictures. It's getting them all scanned in to the computer that makes me crazy. I also have a bunch of old slides I need to do something with. Thanks for stopping by everyone!

  8. I had a horrible shower experience last time I was in New York. My graduating class in high school went there in our senior year, and I was sharing a room with three other guys. I was the first to shower when we got there, and I totally forgot to put the shower curtain on the inside of the shower. I flooded the bathroom and the floors were soaking wet for hours!

  9. Anonymous12/01/2011

    It was just as funny to read today as it was hearing you tell it Tuesday night. And now I have it in print how you truly messed up by leaving me behind on the second trip.

  10. Lisa, of course I messed up not taking you. You make everything more fun! :)


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