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Short Stories: Let’s See a Movie: Jaws or Emmanuelle?


In September of 1975, I drove from Sierra Vista, Arizona to Phoenix to visit my girlfriend. Anita, two years older than I, was a sophomore at Southwestern Conservative Baptist Bible College. Anita and I met at Sierra Vista Baptist Church. It was not long before I was head over heels in love with her, an attractive, temperamental woman with much more experience with the things of the world than her younger boyfriend. Our torrid nine-month relationship had all the trappings of a match made in Heaven, but by the time my weekend visit was over our relationship was shattered and I was on my way back to Ohio on a Greyhound bus.

I stayed in the men’s dormitory while visiting Anita. One night, we decided to go see a movie, in violation of Southwestern’s code of conduct. We had two movies to choose from: Jaws and Emmanuelle. While most readers are quite familiar with Jaws, they might not be as familiar with Emmanuelle, a French soft-porn movie. Both Anita and I had what church leaders called a rebellious heart. While we attended church regularly, sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, and worked in the bus ministry, we loved living on the edge. When presented with the choice of Jaws or Emmanuelle, we briefly considered whether we should give in to our rebellious nature and buy tickets to see Emmanuelle. Our Fundamentalist training ultimately won and we spent the next two hours watching a mechanical shark hunt and kill humans.

While our relationship ultimately burned in the flames of my jealousy and immaturity, I still have fond memories of the nine months Bruce and Anita were an inseparable pair. From Anita irritating the hell out of then-deacon Chuck Cofty with her miniskirts and employment at an alcohol-serving pizza place, to taking trips to Mexican border towns and hiking the Huachuca Mountains, we had a wonderful time. I still wonder to this day what might have happened had we chosen the other movie.

Anita and I briefly stayed in touch, but a year later I moved to Pontiac, Michigan to begin studying for the ministry at Midwestern Baptist College. I soon met a beautiful dark-haired girl whose beauty and quiet demeanor quickly quashed any thoughts of my nine-month relationship with Anita. I have often wondered what became of Anita. Years ago, I heard rumors that she married, had children, and divorced.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    Becky Wiren

    American Christians are largely fine with lots of violence, but to see bare breasts? Oh no, how evil! And I think fundie Christians like the “evil” part, because it adds to the pleasure of seeing something titillating. No, I didn’t mean to make that a pun although I think it makes a good one. 😉

    Funny how the cultures that are fine with naked breasts, are so much more relaxed than the American puritanical culture. Sheesh.

  2. Avatar

    Seeing a movie with naked boobs may have sent Young Bruce down a path of eternal destruction….. I do find it funny how fundies get all bent out if shape about unclothed women and sex.

  3. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I won’t claim to have seen the world. But I’ve lived in one other country besides the US and have visited twenty more. The US is the only one in which I’ve seen people laugh at violence in movies or TV. Also, there seems to be an inverse relationship between how much violence and how much sex is shown in mainstream movies and TV. The US is at one end of that spectrum—and it’s the only “advanced “ country where fundamentalist Christians have so much sway. On the other hand, while French TV shows and movies aren’t free if violence, there isn’t as much of it and little, if any, seems gratuitous. But almost everything you’ve heard about the French not being afraid of sex is true!

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Bruce Gerencser