For Erin and Shott on their Special Day

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I can’t quite pinpoint the first time I met Matt Shott, but I do vaguely remember talking for a long time about video games with a frizzy-haired kid during youth group one night. I feel like we had talked a few times before that moment, but I think this was the moment we really connected. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Sonic the Hedgehog and I had never met anyone so knowledgeable about such amazing things.

 

Not too long after this encounter I found myself over at Matt’s house—I’m sorry… it’s really hard to call him Matt. See, all of his friends knew him by different names: the Fungus, the Legend, Shotty, Shottman, Shottgun, ashottinthedark, Bud Shott—but really we all just called him Shott.

 

This presented a problem on the phone. I remember calling his house once:

 

Shott: “Hello?”

 

“Shott?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Hey man! How’s it going!?”

 

“It’s going pretty good.”

 

“Sweet. What you up to today?”

 

“Not much.”

 

“You wanna hang out then?”

 

“Do you want me to go get Matt?”

 

“OH. Hi Mr. Shott. Yeah, is Matt there?”

 

Who started calling him Shott instead of Matt? I don’t know. Probably Brandon. Brandon starts everything. There has always been this weird vibe between Shott, Brandon and Hugh. They are always laughing about things that I’m pretty sure aren’t that funny. I mean, to them I’m sure it’s hilarious, but to everyone else I think it’s just a bunch of inside jokes. All you have to say is doubs cheese and Shott will start laughing. Or you can make a reference to some weird video they made about trying to track down a raccoon (or something like that) and that should get him going too.

 

These stories are ridiculous mostly because Shott and his friends are ridiculous. And because of that, it’s pretty easy to talk Shott into a lot of strange things. You should see some of the videos we made back in the day! There’s one where he, Taylor and I are superheroes. Taylor was called “the Duplicator” because he could turn himself into a bunch of mini-sized versions of his already mini-self. Shott was named Pac-Man because he could walk off one side of the video screen and onto the other like the old Atari favorite. And then I was Gasoblaster. For whatever reason, I had the ability to fart myself into space.

 

Yeah… It was messed up.

 

I’m pretty sure Shott and I were good friends, but now that I reflect on that, I’m not sure why anyone would allow their friend to record themselves with magical farting abilities. Fortunately, we killed my character at the end of the video so there’s no chance for a sequel.

 

We made countless other videos. There was one where Taylor and I recorded Shott running like a doofus down a long road for like 5 minutes or something. And another time, I actually got him to sing a song with me! After several attempts to record his beautiful singing voice, I eventually just took what he did and severely autotuned it to make it work. The lyrics were really pretty simple. He just sat in a corner of a room and sang “Sitting in a room. Just sitting in a room.” It was pretty dumb, and the bloopers were endless.

 

After Brandon and Hugh graduated, Shott, Taylor and myself hung out just about every other day. Mr. and Mrs. Shott can attest to this as we rendered them foodless for sometime. It was the Shott-house tradition. We would bury ourselves in their basement, break out some DDR moves or play some other video game or watch an entire 3 seasons of some TV show, and then return to the surface at 3 in the morning to deep fry whatever we could get our hands on. We couldn’t help it! They had like the best deep fryer in the world! It probably had something to do with the fact that we never changed the oil over the years.

 

So many french fries. So many chicken tenders. So many cheese sticks. So much constipation.

 

Which reminds me of another story, but we won’t go there today.

 

I still remember the sheer terror I felt when I learned that Mrs. Shott had gone on a health kick and was throwing the deep fryer out. I remember the anxiety that filled my soul as I pulled out later that day and spotted it in the trash. I’m not gonna lie: I debated long and hard about pulling it out of there and taking it home.

 

It was the same kind of terror and anxiety I felt the night I let Shott drink some Mountain Dew. Who needs alcohol when pop can do that to a man? Though he didn’t seem to recall it an hour later, I’m pretty sure a few tires came off the ground as we drove home through the backroads.

 

The stories go on and on because Shott, Taylor and I did just about everything together. We may have gone our separate ways when college came around, but come summer, we’d be back to hanging out again. I’d be in the middle of playing a video game when a text would appear on the screen, which, by the way, was an incredibly inefficient way to communicate. I never understood why Shott didn’t just call me. It took both of us like 15 minutes to type a reply to each other using a PS3 controller. Plus it forced me to pause my game every 30 seconds.

 

But despite all of the foolishness I have now indulged you in, you should know that there is a serious and deeply spiritual side to Matt Shott. There were countless times where we confided in each other for accountability and many other times where we had long spiritual and doctrinal chats about God and life and what-have-you.

 

We could talk about anything. I don’t think I always knew that, but I discovered it one night after I went through a breakup. I didn’t really expect to be able to talk to Shott about women (no offense buddy), but he did a great job at comforting me and helping me through it. Maybe it was because of how many women are in his home? Or maybe he just listened to me talk for like 3 hours and hardly said anything because he didn’t know what to say and that was what I needed? (Truth be told, I don’t really remember shutting up that night.)

 

Or maybe none of us truly knew the Shottman Legend and perhaps he just sat in his basement all day, watching chick flicks, eating ice cream and crying his eyes out. My guess is that wasn’t the case, but then again, he did find a wife before most of my friends. Perhaps there’s a hopeless romantic in him somewhere that we all missed!

 

After all, five minutes before this service started Taylor told Shott that if Shott cried, he wouldn’t be able to help himself, at which Shott replied in his monotone voice, “You know me, I’m and emotional guy.”

 

I didn’t spend as much time with Erin, but don’t worry, I still have plenty to say about her, because who hasn’t met Erin that doesn’t have plenty to say about her?

 

I got to know Erin as my wife got to know Erin. She was a jerk. She and my wife—they were both jerks. In fact, they had two other friends who were jerks as well: Clare and Becca. Surely everyone understands what I’m saying when I say this, but incase you don’t, let me explain. For whatever reason, these four girls decided it’d be fun to put their names together to create an acronym: Jodi, Erin, Rebecca, Clare; AKA: the Jercs. I tried to tell them that they spelled it wrong, but they wouldn’t listen. They liked being jerks.

 

Out of the four of them, I knew Erin as the loud one. Me and her are tight, so I can say that. Seriously though, it didn’t matter where you were on campus—if she was outside, you could hear her. You could hear her laugh a mile away—and her insults! There were times where I’d Skype with Jodi and I thought I could hear Erin over the computer and outside my window!

 

Okay, I might have over-embellished that one a little, which I didn’t do at all with Shott.

 

She’s quite vocal at church too. She laughs loudly at my jokes when no one else will. The more insulting the jokes are towards myself, the louder she’ll laugh. She’ll also laugh whenever she feels awkward. That’s just how she handles it.

 

“Erin, will you and Shott come forward this Sunday so we can pray over you and your upcoming marriage?”

 

“HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

 

“Uh… okay?”

 

She also likes to speak up during church to correct me or call me out on something I said—in fact, I’d be surprised if she hasn’t done so already as I’ve been reading this. All I can hope is that she’s not calling me out on some kind of analogy I’m making between Jesus and science, because chances are she will render my analogy obsolete, right in the middle of service.

 

Maybe that’s why I call her before my message now a’ days. In fact, just a few weeks ago I called her early on a Saturday, hoping that a scientific analogy I had found was true.

 

“Hey Erin, how does light work?”

 

“What?”

 

“Science me! How does light work?”

 

“You’re calling me right now to ask me to explain quantum mechanics to you?”

 

“Ooo, that sounds so cool. Yes, explain it to me.”

 

“Dude, your making me have to think back to some old classes to have to explain this.”

 

“All I need to know is that light is still a particle and a wavelength and that that hasn’t been disproven or anything over the years.”

 

“No Jamin. Light hasn’t been disproven.”

 

“Cool, thanks!”

 

She’s my resident scientist at church. Using her magic, she once blew up a few pumpkins in order to entertain the kids there (and me). And whenever I have a question that only smart people know the answer to, I ask her. Unfortunately, she has yet to present me with science-fiction theory as to how our entire world could be turned into 2D pixel-like landscape, but I trust that one day she’ll figure it out.

 

But hey, I’m getting distracted. I was trying to explain Erin being loud. Even Erin’s car is loud! After her muffler broke, you always knew when she was coming. Jodi and I would be sitting at our old apartment:

 

“When’s Erin coming over?”

 

*VROOOOOOOOOM*

 

“Ah. Never mind.”

 

It took her quite awhile to get that thing fixed. I think she even came late to small group once because she had been pulled over for how bad it was.

 

While it might be easy to find Erin via the sounds she sends through atmosphere, it’s not so easy to spot her visually once spring has rolled around. She simply camouflages into all the greenery everywhere. Seriously! Who has that much green clothes in their wardrobe? I know of no one! She’s like a cartoon character. Does she have 50 pairs of the same outfit or something?

 

But outside of all of this, Erin too has a deep, serious, spiritual side. I’ve witnessed it first hand. As I’ve gotten to know her better, I’ve seen a certain light in her that I had missed  when she was more just Jodi’s friend. I’ve heard her ask profound questions. I’ve seen her do things that God asked her to do, even when I bet she didn’t want to do it. I’ve seen her grow in a way that I’m not sure even she understands and it has been amazing for me to watch.

 

And so now here I am, about to marry two great friends in my life to each other. They represent something to all of us. A son. A daughter. A cousin. A brother. A sister. A friend. A best friend. Maybe they even represent a stranger because your someone’s plus one or a wedding crasher. But no matter who you are, look upon these two as an example of what love looks like. All of us married folk know they have no idea what they’re getting  themselves into. Thank God they didn’t take their marriage classes from me.

 

I have seen a depth in these two that is strong enough to contain one another’s soul; a strength that goes beyond themselves; and an honesty that is a rare find. I am excited for them as they move into this next step and I believe that as they continue to ground themselves together in the power of Jesus Christ, they will find a fullness in their marriage that was built specifically for them to experience together.

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