Marty D. Lutheran and Johnny B. Baptist grew up in Ablaze™ Lutheran Church and School in Portland, Maine. Johnny’s middle name was “Barfolomew.” Pastor Freddy Tubingen had convinced his congregation that the name “Bartholomew” was the result of a medieval corruption of the New Testament text by the Catholics and that the Apostle’s real name was “Barfolomew.” In honor of Pastor Freddy’s bold stand against the papacy, Mr. Baptist wanted to name his son “Barfolomew.” Mrs. Baptist convinced Mr. Baptist to use “Barfolomew” as a middle name. Somehow, Johnny’s classmates discovered Johnny’s middle name in small clusters. The next time they would see Johnny they would say, “Hey Barf!” or “Hey Barf! Do you barf a lot?” or something equally creative. Each child seemed to think that he was the first one to come with such a clever, cutting remark. And once was not enough, each classmate seemed to think it only got funnier the more times he said it. By the time Johnny entered the fifth grade he realized that this was not going away anytime soon and he started to save the remains of the soup that his father made that would gather in the sink—split peas and ham and whatever else. He would place the mixture in small plastic tubes. When someone would yell, “Hey Barf!” Johnny would joyfully exclaim, “Don’t mind if I do!” Then Johnny would start violently convulsing and spill the soup onto the ground.
Pretending to vomit did not make Johnny very popular, but it did catch the attention Marty. Marty was impressed with Johnny’s ability to think outside the box in response to such obvious and uncreative ridicule. On Reformation Day, Marty would walk around the block and nail lists of grievances to his neighbors’ doors. He was always careful not to complain about anything the neighbor might be sensitive about. He wrote things like, “You newspaper is not properly folded in the trash can,” or “Your shoes do not match the color of your carpet.” But the neighbors didn’t get the joke. Some even tried to argue with his criticisms. The next day, Ms. Jefferts Shori saw Marty and yelled, “MY SHOES DO MATCH MY CARPET! YOU’RE COLOR-BLIND!” Marty thought this was absolutely hilarious and looked forward to next year. Unfortunately, one of the neighbors called the police and neither the police nor Marty’s parents appreciated Marty’s humor. Marty’s mom said, “If you don’t have anything nice to put on people’s doors don’t put anything at all.” Marty thought that maybe next year he would nail up pieces of paper that said things like, “HAVE A NICE LIFE!” and “I HOPE YOU’RE PROUD OF YOURSELF!” but never followed through.
Anyhow, after Marty witnessed Johnny’s fake vomiting, he walked up to Johnny and said, “Well-played, you crazy son of a Baptist!” (S.O.B. would become Marty’s affectionate nickname for Johnny.) From that day forward, Marty and Johnny became good friends as a result of their communal participation in unusual humor. Marty and Johnny started sitting together at church and came to realize they were also united in their dislike of Pastor Freddy.
Pastor Freddy had an inflated view of his own hipness. Freddy was a middle-aged guy who liked to lead the congregational singing with an acoustic guitar and would try to impress the youth by talking about how much he liked D.C. Talk. Freddy didn’t get rid of the liturgy completely, but he replaced the “Agnus Dei” with “Lamb of God” by Twila Paris and almost every week Freddy would lead the congregation in singing “Power of Your Love,” and “Shout to the Lord.” Despite the fact that the church’s youth tended to leave the church when their parents stopped forcing them to attend, Pastor Freddy was convinced that his guitar and natural hipness would eventually attract youths from all over the nation. Elderly members of the congregation remembered the good old days before the name change. They used to be Revival™ Lutheran Church. They used to sing songs like “In the Garden” and “I Serve a Risen Savior.” The old folks were paying all the bills, so Pastor Freddy agreed to make the fifth Sunday of every month “Old People Sunday.” The elderly people wanted to sing these songs more often, but Pastor Freddy convinced them that singing them once a month would make them more special.
When Marty and Freddy were both sixteen years old, they convinced their parents that if they had to hear Pastor Freddy lead them in “Pass It On” one more time, Ablaze™ Lutheran Church was going to have a critical event. They would set pastor Freddy’s pony tail ablaze™ while everybody was singing (well, not everybody…just the baby boomers in the congregation), “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” Out of fear of personal embarrassment, their parents allowed them to stop attending.
After graduating from high school, Johnny moved away to study medicine at the University of Mississipi to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. Marty went to the University of Southern Maine to study forensic astronomy. They planned to keep in contact with each other but neither was a big fan of writing just for the purpose of communicating the experiences of ordinary, daily life.
Friday, February 3, 2012
A Dweam Within a Dweam: The Historic Debate Between Marty D. Lutheran and Johnny B. Baptist
Posted by Chuck Wiese at 1:01 PM