March 17, 2024


by: tguerry


Categories: Current Culture



A good many years ago — in fact, way back into the Twentieth Century — my parents encouraged me to join the youth group at a church our family attended. Despite my initial reluctance, I ended up learning a lot of important lessons through that group.

The very first lesson I learned — and this one has served me well — is that when an adult makes a statement like, “These kids deserve extra leeway because they’re good church kids,” you should treat that person as you would any other mental midget, and never, ever entrust the wellbeing of your precious progeny to such a dimwit. I will admit however, that upon that statement reaching my seventh-grade ears, I was far more predisposed to becoming a regular member of the group.

Not long after I joined the group, our fearless leader hatched the grand idea of us Junior High kids engaging in a trust exercise that had been popularized among adult groups of the day. Even though at that time, I weighed a tiny fraction of my current ballast, I was the youngest of five kids and consequently far too skeptical to step into such an obvious trap.

My pal Billy’s girlfriend Karen, on the other hand, was one of those gullible, coddled, only-children and among the first to volunteer. Billy, who was a year my elder and far wilier, gave me a sinister smirk, indicating that I should pay close attention. You’ve already surmised the outcome, but it was the consequences of that outcome which rendered durable life lessons.

When Billy dropped his hands to his side and took a pathological step backwards, Karen hit the floor with a combination of splat and thump, enhanced by a scream later mimicked in Stephen King movies. It was an unforgettable event.

Having previously engaged my teen-aged mind in what I deemed not an inappropriate amount of attention to Karen’s shapely backside (after all, she was my best friend’s girl), I prayed that her delicate lower spine would be protected, as indeed it was. I did, however, fail to account for her cat-like reflexes which resulted in her hand hitting the floor just before and beneath that Venus-like derriere.

Karen’s wrist was not broken but it was badly sprained and my friend, Billy received a scolding from Mrs. Lamebrain Group Leader that would make a Marine Corps drill sergeant blush. I remain, fifty-five years later, still impressed with how instantaneously church-lady transformed from Mother Teresa into the fire-breathing Bride of Lucifer, and I attribute her reaction more to her fear of parental repercussion than to dissatisfaction with Billy’s lack of Biblical morals.

I did manage to look suitably appalled at Billy’s behavior throughout his tongue lashing but also flashed him the conspiratorial wink of delinquency at the appropriate moment. Turns out that the verbal onslaught was the least of Billy’s problems. Karen of the fine… (well, you know) … dropped out of the youth group and never spoke to Billy again. I’ve always wondered how that little game impacted her future world-view.

But enough of all this. What I really set out to write about is “Trust”. I belong to a couple of peer groups where we discuss significant work and life issues. As you might expect, trust is the primary ingredient for the success of those groups — It takes a long time to build and only a single poorly considered comment to lose. One of the things I most enjoy observing is the shifting group dynamic, depending on which group members are present and which are absent.

Some people mesh more readily than others. Some don’t mesh easily at all. And, what I’ve noticed is that failure to exhibit trust (even minutely) results in failure to be trusted, further compounding the failure-to-mesh issue. Now I can guarantee than none of the groups I’m a part of will ever engage in that absurd, blindfolded, backwards-falling BS, especially if it involves me, but it would be interesting to observe what might happen if someone like Billy’s ex-girlfriend joined our group.

Oh, yeah. That other life-lesson I learned in the youth group: if you’re ever going to drop someone on their ass, you better be dead certain you’ll never need to count on them in the future. Billy would eventually spend time in prison over a more serious prank, and I’m certain that Karen never visited him or sent cookies.

Let’s talk. I’d really like to hear what you have to say, and it might even give me something to write about. Email me at
I’ll buy you coffee and we can compare notes. I promise not to steal your ideas without permission.


Trust is built on telling the truth, not telling people what they want to hear.

― Simon Sinek


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