I love the blog Stuff Christians Like. Jon Acuff has given tangible substance to the things many Christians have been laughing about for years in their own heads. I think many of us have been a little afraid to directly poke fun at the church for fear that we suddenly will be zapped by God. We have this ridiculous idea that God hates laughter and it's hard to admit that the churches we've created are far from perfect. But I don't think the zappings will commence any time soon. In fact, being a little silly and honest about the goofy and many times non-biblical things Christians do has opened up a much deeper conversation among the people following the blog.
Anyway, I've wandered from where I wanted to go with this post. Jon included a very awesome reference to Saved By the Bell yesterday. It seems that Christians really dig Saved By the Bell by the number of comments that mentioned it. Maybe because it was a "clean" show that was way more innocent than a lot of teen dramas. Maybe because you couldn't escape the continual syndication every time you turned on the TV. Maybe because it was so incredibly cheesy, us sarcasm lovers got to have a half hour sarcasm festival each time we watched. Maybe because Zack and A.C. were so dreamy. So with that, SBTB lovers, I dedicate this story for you.
I had been working for the local Girl Scout council for a few months when my supervisor came to me in 2002. "Beth, we had someone cancel on the trip to the national convention in Long Beach. Would you like to take their spot?"
A free trip to Long Beach?? Not doing actual work for a week??
"If you need me, I think I could fit it in," I replied.
So I got to experience the wonders of southern California and the wonders of people who lived and breathed Girl Scouts. Both were equally fascinating and frightening. The convention had, of course, a huge expo center with booths on everything from cookies to sailing to women's barbershop quartets. While I wandered the corridors of endless booths, trying not to be tempted by the free giveaway sign ups that would fill my life with junk mail, I saw IT. IT was a small booth promoting a video chess program for kids, hosted by Dustin Diamond. That wasn't so exciting. But the sign on the booth. I couldn't believe my eyes. Dustin Diamond was making a personal appearance the next day!
I had spent countless hours after school and Saturdays watching Saved By the Bell. We didn't have cable. After that it became a legend in my high school honors classes. What do smart kids do when they're not challenged enough in school and the teacher leaves for a few minutes? Why re-enact scenes from Saved By the Bell, of course! In college, many a procrastinating morning was spent with my roommate watching....you guessed it!
So to see that THE Dustin Diamond would be live and in person almost caused me to hyperventilate. I had one burning question that needed to be answered. It had been simmering in the recesses of my mind for almost a decade. This was my one chance.
The next day I convinced my 30-ish co-worker to come with me to meet THE Dustin Diamond. She was at least mildly interested to meet a celebrity of SBTB caliber. It was better than my 50-ish co-workers who responded with, "Who is Screech Powers?" I was expecting a bit of a mob, so we came a few minutes early. The gymnast Dominique Dawes was there the day before and she was swamped! Surely the crowds of Dustin Diamond awe would be greater. But when we got to the booth, no crowd and no Dustin Diamond. We hovered for a few minutes, circling the booth like Screech Vultures. Then suddenly and really without any notice, Dustin walked up and sat down at the booth. My co-worker and I spent roughly two minutes convincing ourselves to talk to Dustin, who was sitting all alone, looking bored. I spoke first. Awkward greeting, looks like a neat chess program, blah blah. I really don't remember exactly what I said, but I kept thinking, "Wow, it's just like talking to a regular person. He's just like any guy. Why am I the only person who cares about THE Dustin Diamond? Should I ask the question? Should I? Why not? Go for it!"
So in the middle of a pretty boring conversation, I said, "Um...so I always wondered why the early episodes of Saved By the Bell in junior high were set in Indiana and then when you went to high school, some of the same kids AND the principal were suddenly in California?"
Dustin replied, "I don't know. I guess the writers just thought the plots in California would be more interesting."
I was a little let down. For some reason I was expecting a funny and fitting explanation about how the moving company accidentally moved four families instead of one complete with a Screech "ZOINKS!" I guess Indiana is exciting enough for Miss Bliss, but not exciting enough for the likes of A.C. Slater and Kelly Kapowski. Sigh. This Indiana Girl was a little put off. But I did ask to take a picture with him and he very nicely complied.
So the ironic thing about this post is that Jon's SCL post about Empty Room Lessons ending with a Saved By the Bell reference prompted me to write about a Saved By the Bell actor who had his own empty room experience...or empty booth experience as the case may be. It makes me wonder if Dustin Diamond learned any lessons that day. Odd. But not as odd as the "Slater Pants" phenomena. We'll talk more about that next time.
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