Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Legend of Big K

As of next week, it will be 20 years since Marilyn and I left Springfield Friends Meeting for Kissimmee, Florida. It's really hard to believe. The anniversary of the end of our 8 years of service there and the beginning of our lives at FUMC-K has me feeling quite nostalgic, and so for this Throwback Thursday I will share a post I originally shared in February of 2010. Because nothing makes me miss Springfield (or youth ministry in general) more than talking about trips...

1988 at the Betsy B
One of the first and longest-running reality TV shows is The Real World (When it began, MTV still showed music videos...). Their famous tag line that has opened the show for many years is "7 people, picked to live in a house..." The idea is that these 7 people will live life together and discover how tough it can be. We had our own "real world" experiences many times over the years, but the ones that stick out in my mind are the Myrtle Beach trips in which up to 45 of us shared a house for a week. There are many interesting stories that will be told from these adventures, but today, I want to talk about food.

In 1988, on our first trip from Springfield Friends Meeting to the Betsy B, I thought it would be smart to load the house with snacks to feed all those hungry teens. I told each of the participants to bring a sweet or salty snack to share, thinking this would last a good part of our week. I bought lots of cereal for breakfast, thinking I might have to shop one more time after our arrival. I already knew a great deal about travelling with youth, but I had yet to learn much about living with this crowd! The snacks I thought would last all week were gone by the second evening. I didn't understand that anything these kids could find, they WOULD eat! If it was in the house, it disappeared quickly. The cereal lasted through one morning. I didn't realize that guys like Jon Moran would break out the "Jethro Bowls" (mixing bowls, as used by Jetho Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies) and eat an entire box at one sitting. Needless to say, the food budget for that week was in terrible trouble...and I wound up buying enough water, soda and lemonade to stock a 7-11. Something had to change...

The following year we returned to the Betsy B, and I this time I had a plan. I would get up each morning before anyone else was stirring and go to the local store, which was a Kroger.  I would buy all of the food and drink for THAT day. And when they ate it all, that was it- no more until the next day! I wound up buying lots of cereal and lots of snacks- Fudge RoundsOpies (Oatmeal Creme Pies), Freeze Pops, chips and more. And I would up buying enormous amounts of Big K soda.

Big K was the Kroger brand, and it was cheap- around 49 cents for a two liter bottle. It came it pretty much every flavor imaginable, and most of them were pretty good. We liked the Lemon-LimeGinger AleDr. K (Dr. Pepper rip-off), Root BeerCherry Lemon-LimeOrange, Black Cherry and many others. One particular favorite was a bizarre little drink called Red Creme Soda. The only one we just could not stand was cola. I had to buy real Coke for the cola drinkers. Every morning I would visit the store and purchase 10-20 two liter bottles of Big K. And every day we would drink most of them. We would go through 80-100 bottles in a week. I became a legend in that store- every day the workers would gather to see how much I was buying FOR THAT DAY! It was amazing. People became fierce defenders of their favorite flavors. At one point on the Beach Break '89 video Heather Beggs says to Russell Farlow  "We love Big K, don't we Russell?" His response is classic. He lets out a very happy sigh, throws his head back and yells "UH-HUH!!!" He spoke for many of us.

Like so many things in student ministry, Big K was only special because of the people and the place. I never bought it to use in my home or anyplace else. It was simply part of the experience of our own little Real World. Over the years it helped us survive some Black Thursdays, some relationship nightmares, and more than a few long nights on the porch singing. Big K was never all that good- but when we were sharing life together as one big "family of God," it was as good as it gets.

Because of Jesus,

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