Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Random Arizona Memory

(Tucson High School "Troubadours" vocal ensemble, 1983, at the Temple of Music and Art. The following year, my teen prank garage band played at the same location.)

I was a "choir kid" in high school (see above). It wasn't like Glee or anything; we just stood there in our sweaters and sang (although we did put on a musical every year, a painful ordeal for all involved).

Anybody who was ever involved in anything in high school knows all about field trips to other parts of the state for various reasons, and choir was no different: there were competitions, all-state events, regional meet-ups, etc. Since the major cities of Arizona are far apart (it's a big state!), multiple day happenings always involved staying with host families arranged through the local schools participating in the events.

Now keep in mind that I'm from Tucson, and also keep in mind this unscientific, totally unfair yet basically accurate infographic about Arizona:


Every time we headed north, and particularly when we made trips to Flagstaff or Mesa, there was a certain detail about our staying with host families that had to be discussed, the fact that Mormon households were especially enthusiastic about signing up to be hosts. "Many of you," we were told, "will be staying [dramatic pause] with LDS families." Those who had been through the ordeal groaned, while the newbies looked puzzled. "Be prepared."

Be prepared for what? To be worked.  If you stayed with an LDS host family, you were treated to a non-stop festival of Mormonism, abounding with special "youth activities" which just happened to be scheduled while you were visiting. Meanwhile, the rest of us were attending totally fantastic teen keg parties. The ones I went to in Flagstaff, huge raucous bonfires in the woods, were the best parties I went to in high school. 

The next day, the lucky ones were bleary-eyed, partied-out, and bursting with gossip as we recounted our nights and compared injuries.

"How was your night?" we'd taunt our less fortunate mates as they struggled with their armloads of LDS pamphlets and cassettes, and they would invariably erupt in a kind of post-traumatic, un-Mormon Tourette's syndrome. "Fuck! Shit! Asshole! Fuck! Fuck!" they would shriek while desperately chugging forbidden Coca Cola and unbuttoning their blouses. Then, offended, any nearby Mormon teens would stand up en masse and silently move away from our corruptive vulgarity.

Good times!

I was never parked with a Mormon family. I have a sneaking suspicion that event organizers probably arranged for that. I was, after all, an outspoken atheist and a punk rocker with a penchant for Flock of Seagulls hairdos and garish parodies of resort wear. I also think I was one of those kids who everybody knew was a hairdresser before I did (right?). So I guess in those cases, that worked to my advantage!

So anyway, call me a bigot if you must, because I've heard that it's now chic to pretend that the Church of Latter Day Saints® is not a singularly obnoxious, frequently ludicrous mutation of Christianity, which is obnoxious and ludicrous enough to begin with, but that's my mean-spirited Mormon story of the day.


19 comments:

Comrade Physioprof said...

Flock of Seagulls hairdos

HAHAHAHAH! Before I read the post, I guessed that was you in the picture!

nixiebunny said...

I really, really want to 'click for way bigger'!

That's a fine Mormon story. Lucky you, being kept away from that particular brand of no-fun insanity.

sfmike said...

That's just about the best Mormon story I have ever read (and your map is a model of using graphics for enlightenment and good). Thanks.

Lulu Maude said...

We in the west all have our Moron er Mormon stories. I went to school with lots of Mormons. They would go off to BYU after graduation, and the girls would drop out after sophomore year to get married... something about going up to some major make-out rock and changing your educational plans.

I now live in Joseph Smith's birthplace state, with The Actual Birthplace about a 15 minute drive from our house. They do nice Christmas decor there in the winter.

But what a crock-y story... gold plates n' shit...

Hilarious to think about all them Mormon predators. Did you see Betty Bowers' vid on Mormonism on youtube?
Classic!

mack said...

I love the mormon descriptions, you can remove mormon and insert christian in many places, and the story would fit quite a few of my born again experiences. The looks I would get when I told christians "gee, the federal government respects my religious decisions, why can't you?" were classic.

Desertwind said...

Whatever happened to that badass girl on the far left?

dianegsocialist said...

Is that Katie next to you in the picture up there?

Flying Spaghetti Monster said...

This is pure comedy gold. Thanks for taking me there. The first time I can remember hearing about crazy Mormons as a kid was the polygamist scene in "Paint Your Wagon"

Peteykins said...

Diane, yes, that's Katie. I didn't know you knew her! She was one of my best friends for a lonnnng time.

samael7 said...

I love Mormons, if only because their very existence forces certain Christians to explain why Mormon beliefs are "crazy" and theirs are perfectly okay.

Anonymous said...

I like the black guy posing on the far left. He is the star of the choir!

Great story! I feel for those kids that had to stay with the Mormons.

Peteykins said...

Oh, right, Katie's in my prom picture, too. Yes, same girl!

Matty Boy said...

I hate to be the first to write it, but you had a long neck back then. Putting you one step over the no-necked Hispanic guy who is pawing the previously mentioned bad-ass girl gives a serious optical illusion effect to the whole thing.

As always, I say this with love.

Peteykins said...

My neck is no shorter now. It's probably my most distinctive feature.

dianegsocialist said...

Peter, I didn't know Katie. I just thought maybe I recognized her from the other photo. From two portraits and a brief description, she seems kind of awesome.

dinthebeast said...

We had a mormon bass player in our band right after high school, only we didn't know he was a mormon. Nor did we know at the time that the entire mormon church in Eureka, Ca. was praying for our demise on a weekly basis so as to remove him from our corrupting influence. We didn't need their help, as we sucked to a more than fatal extent... When I found out later, I didn't know whether to be annoyed or wear it like a badge of honor.

-Doug in Oakland

hooverific said...

Yeah it's a funny post but yeah it's mean spirited too. for what it's worth a Mormon turned me on to "Super Fly" in high school (dinosaur alert!). he ended up on one of their crazy missions but i still agree with him about the record: it's pretty good in spots. Was impressed with his defense of it even as everyone around him was listening to Led Zeppelin or even whiter records if that's possible; he was really listening to Mayfield and himself. Just sayin'. not all mormons are kooks just cuz they are born into kookiness...there's lots of reasons!

Peteykins said...

The cool ones always leave the church. Always.

David in Tucson said...

Here's my observation about a lot of Mormon organists whom I've heard play: no passion. They play the notes, they do whatever the score calls for, but there's no life there. It's like it's been crushed out of them. Male or female, makes no difference. Gay or straight, well, they're so tied in knots it messes with my gaydar.

If they can break away from the church, they might be lucky and find their passion. Or they might not. I've seen both.