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The Wire: Six-Inch Rule Strictly Enforced

orlandos the wire 2

Polly and I are re-watching The Wire on MAX — arguably the best series of all time. One episode featured a scene from Orlando’s Gentlemen’s Club — a strip club operated by Orlando, but owned by Baltimore drug dealer Avon Barksdale.

The scene under discussion took place in Orlando’s dressing room for the strippers. On the wall was a sign that reminded me of my days as a dorm student at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan:

orlandos the wire

As you can see, someone marked out the six and wrote a one. 🙂 If you have ever been to a strip club, you would see that the one-inch rule better reflects reality, and in venues where lap dances are given, the distance number is actually zero. (Please see Short Stories: The Preacher Goes to the XXX Movie House.)

The sign got me thinking about my days as a dorm student at Midwestern. The college had a six-inch rule too. Dorm students were forbidden from getting closer than six inches to the opposite sex. Breaking this rule could result in expulsion from college. Please read Thou Shalt Not Touch: The Six-Inch Rule, if you have not already done so.

six inch rule midwestern baptist college 1970s

Much like the sign at Orlando’s Gentlemen’s Club, the six-inch rule (the width of a hymnbook) was universally ignored by dorm students. The rule was strictly followed when at school or in public dorm spaces. However, away from the college, say on a double date, the rule was cast aside for normal, healthy heterosexual experiences. Polly and I did not kiss each other until we had been dating for four months. We did the dirty deed during Christmas break while I was visiting Polly at her parent’s home in Newark, Ohio. And once we tasted the forbidden fruit, there was no going back. While we were virgins on our wedding day, more than a few students couldn’t wait, rounding third and sliding into home before saying “I do.”

I don’t know of a dorm couple who didn’t break the six-inch rule. Some got caught and were either campused (lost dating privileges) or expelled, but most couples learned how to play the game (and who to double date with) and escaped punishment. Polly and I certainly feared getting caught and being expelled, but the six-inch rule was no match for raging hormones.

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

    The rule we were told was “Bible distance” apart, so inevitably someone would bring a tiny New Testament ……

  2. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I followed the “Bible rule” regarding contact with my dates. Which Bible did I use? KJV, of course! (The one I found in a hotel room.)

    It’s ironic that a strip club would have the same rule as a Bible college. But it’s no surprise that in either environment, nobody follows the rule!

  3. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Summer working as a kitchen-boy teen helper at what was then called Muskoka Baptist Conference, near Huntsville in Ontario, Canada… I can’t remember her name but we’d sneak out after curfew and neck all night under the stars. That’s kinda all and everything we did: Glory! Hallelujah! God is great! Praise almighty and everlasting (at least in memory) hormones! Oh, I think it was Tina, yes, Tina, a city girl wrestling with a small-town preacher’s son all night long, till the dew lay wet on the grass with us. Whew! Amen. Can I get an AMEN!

    • Avatar
      John S.

      Amen, brother Brian! Now next we move onto Brother Eli who will be taking up our collection for this week. Brother Eli will remind everyone that it’s not just tithes but offerings that are expected. This way we can pay for that new building and also for evangelist Brother Brian’s mission expenses..

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