Sep 18, 2013

Fall 1977: I Become My Boyfriend's Best Man

Verne and Boomer
In August 1977, just before my senior year at Rocky High, I helped Verne, the preacher's son and my sort-of boyfriend, pack for his freshman year at Olivet Nazarene College. We hugged, and I waved while he drove away with Brother and Sister Tyler.

Three weeks later, everything ended.

On September 12th, a Monday night, Brother Tyler called and asked to talk to Dad. This was disturbing in itself -- preachers never called, they preferred unannounced drop-ins.

After a long, solemn conversation on the phone in the kitchen, Dad returned to the living room and said: "He asked if I could get Verne a job on the assembly line at the factory."

"But Verne's at Olivet!" I protested.  "He just started two weeks ago.  Why would he..."

"He's going to drop out.  He needs to get a job."

I still didn't understand.  "No, that's impossible.  He's going to become a preacher.  We're going into the ministry together.  Is Brother Tyler losing his job, or. . . ."

Dorm at Olivet
A few moments later, Verne called from his dorm at Olivet.  "Hey, I know this is going to be a shock, but I'm getting married a week from Saturday, and I'd like you to be my best man."

No, that's impossible!  "Um. . .ok, congratulations, I guess.  I'll be happy to be your best man.  But why are you. . .I mean. . .who's the girl?"

"Kristie Davis." (Not her real name.)

She was a senior at Rocky High, saved along with her parents at the fall revival last year.  She had come along on two or three of my dates with Verne, an "arm dangler" to keep up appearances, but...

Yesterday at the evening service, she ran up to the altar while Brother Tyler was still screaming. Perplexed, he ended his sermon in mid-scream and announced an altar call.  I wondered a bit about her howling sobs and the wads of yellow Kleenix crumpled in her hands, but theatrics were quite common at the altar, so I didn't think any more about it.

Now I knew: Kristie was pregnant!

Modern guys. Note the superfluous gang sign.
That's why Verne sneaked off in the middle of our dates, to have sex with the girl, Kristie or whoever!  And later, when he asked “did you get any?”,  he meant did I have sex!

Sex! And  intimacy, and passion, while all I got was an occasional hug!  And all that talk about pairing up at Olivet and then working in the same church forever – he meant a business partnership.  He would be sharing his real life with a woman!

The next Sunday, Brother Tyler announced the upcoming wedding, and his resignation -- he couldn't stay in the pulpit after the scandal of having his son get a girl pregnant.  He and his wife moved to Kansas City, where he took a desk job at General Headquarters until the furor died down, then found a new congregation far away from Rock Island.

After he had odd predicament of making his boyfriend his best man, Verne went to work in the factory, and eventually became an electrician.  He and Kristie stayed in the Nazarene Church for awhile, defiantly occupying a pew in the married-couple section of the sanctuary in spite of the glares of church members, but by the end of the year, they couldn't stand it anymore and dropped out.  We tried to stay friends for awhile, but we no longer had anything in common, and eventually we lost contact.

Now we're Facebook friends.  He's divorced from Kristie, and living in the Washington, DC area, very near the gay neighborhood of Dupont Circle.