If there was a baby store, and these things could be returned, I suspect I would be back on the shelf, my torn box pasted together with some scotch tape, and some old lady would pick me up and shake me, and turn to her friend and say, “Look, Elma, you don’t want this one. The box is already opened. Someone returned it. It must be defective.”
Of course, that would only have happened IF there was a baby store, and IF we were all blessed with precognitive powers, and my mother could have divined that when I was 14 I was going to say to her, “You know, that whole Joseph Smith story sounds like crap to me, and an excuse for him to have sex with lots of young girls.” Yeah, my ass would have been back at that BABY STORE fast.
But there is no baby store, and no precog powers, and my parents are stuck with me (and an older sister who is slightly more respectful but no more believing). The rest of the sibs all bought into the Celestial Kingdom Song and Dance Number, and did the whole Temple Marriage and Sunday Church-going and Eternal Family thingie. And none of THEM are going through a divorce, so that MUST mean the Church is true, RIGHT? None of them have had to return to live in the basement and ….oh wait. There was that two years that my brother was deciding what he wanted to be when he grew up, about five years ago, somewhere after he turned thirty. He lived here with my sister-in-law and my nephew, so I guess that’s not entirely true. But you know my mom is not remembering that and she just wants to introduce me to some nice Mormon guy who will get my ass back in line and BACK TO CHURCH. That, surely, is the answer to all.
Of course, my mom doesn’t actually say that to me. She is probably thinking it, but I’m sure she would never say it out loud. To me, anyway. But hanging with the parents all the time, you start to read the cues. My mother is good with verbal cues. You know, religious sign language. Living by example. That kind of stuff. My dad is not so subtle. Conversations with my father go something like this.
Me: Wow, it took me $60 to fill up the Jeep.
Dad: Well, you know that things are really coming to a head here. People are going to start breaking into people’s houses because they can’t even survive. The Church teaches us that the Second Coming of Jesus is close, and we need to be ready. Just today on the news, I saw a story about a guy who woke up to some guy in his house, and he got out his gun, but the robber took the gun and shot the man. He died! Things are getting bad.
I’m thinking, “Hmm, I think gas and Jesus probably had VERY little to do with this, and METHAMPHETAMINE a whole lot more to do with it,” but try explaining that to a man who has cable and a steady diet of Matlock and Little House on the Prairie. To him, meth is something that people believe is true, but that couldn’t possibly be, like the whole Jesus/God/Holy Ghost one being thingie. That’s a myth in Mormon Country.
They can wrap their heads around multiple wives and children and death and disembowelment vows uttered in the temple, but give them the Holy Trinity and they scoff.
Almost every conversation we have morphs into, “Well, you know, the Church teaches us that….”
My dad is pretty convinced that the world is getting more and more wicked every day, and that it’s a sign that Jesus is ON HIS WAY BACK, and my mom is busy washing the sheets because Stormy the Wonder Dog thinks their bed is Doggie Playland. But at least if Jesus comes back tomorrow, she’ll have clean sheets!
I personally think Jesus time is a ways out, because there have always been floods, and death, and destruction, and umpteen years ago there was that whole Bubonic Plague thingie, and if Jesus was sending a scourge right before he came back down, don’t you think THAT would have been an appropriate time to show up? I’m not all that convinced that the world is so much worse than it used to be. In fact, reading about Adolf Hitler, I’m pretty sure that evil has existed for centuries. And maybe it’s cyclical, like the weather. The fact that it has SNOWED in April does not mean Jesus is on the 11:30 flight from Kolob. At least in my book.
But religion has long thrived on scaring the shit out of people. That’s how you keep them in line. I remember hearing a screeching noise when I was about nine, and cowering under my bed, convinced that it was the Angel Moroni blowing his horn, and I would never, ever get a chance to wear a bra that I could actually fill out. I mean, my BLOOD RAN COLD, because people handed me these stories of the END OF THE WORLD and THE SECOND COMING like they were candy. And boy was I relieved when I found it was just the brakes on the old station wagon. No Second Coming today. Thank you.
I guess that’s why my dad has to say, “Well the Church teaches us…” every other sentence, because if he doesn’t, and Jesus just shows up there on the doorstep, he has FAILED as a parent, and he will NOT be spending his eternities in the Celestial Kingdom. It’s TELESTIAL for you, Mister.
My mom is not driven by the same religious demons, although she is definitely a big believer. As I mentioned before, she mostly comes from the “Living by example” school of religion. Yes, there is a cutout of Jesus in our laundry room, she never misses church, and Joseph Smith decorates her “Mormon room,” but we never get the “Church teaches us” speeches from her.
So, I guess I just have to say, thanks for not returning me to the baby store, Mom. After you get back from church today, maybe we can cook us up some barbecue and have a few beers. Er, or maybe a few Sprites.
Happy Mother’s Day.