Swinging Brookline News
November | Asking that delicate question
Asking that delicate question
You meet someone for the first time. You like them.
They seem to like you. You have loads in common. But in Utah there is
a delicate question begging to be asked, a query that could spoil everything.
Sooner or later, one of you just has to say it out loud: Are you
Comes now that nervous moment when the response could go either way. By
this I do not mean yes or no, I mean someone choosing
to twist themselves into a snit over it.
The question may be asked for a variety of reasons. Maybe you only want
to know just how much you have in common. Possibly, if you're an idiot,
you want to know who to avoid in the future.
The last time anyone asked for my religion was on TRAX. I overheard a
couple across the aisle wondering out loud when they should get off to
see the Salt Lake Temple.
Four more stops, I said. Can't miss it. Gray building.
Looks like a super-sized Alamo. Gold angel on top.
During the following conversation, the couple tentatively asked if I was
a Mormon. I told them the matter was sometimes much debated but, yeah,
Then maybe you can explain some things for us, the woman said,
and proceeded to ask questions that proved they were nice agnostic tourists.
I am never offended by the religion question. It takes far more serious
probing into my personal affairs to really bother me, stuff like a mugging,
scopy or an IRS audit.
For some people, however, religion is deeply personal. Inquiring what
faith they practice is tantamount to casually asking if they are wearing
a diaper, something that should never be done even if it's obvious that
one (or both) need changing.
I understand the question from a Mormon perspective. If one social question
can save another a hundred questions, or possibly a social gaffe, why
not ask it?
Knowing that someone is LDS -- although certainly no guarantee -- answers
potential future questions about alcohol, coffee, smoking, ice cream,
swinger sex and sometimes politics.
But I can also understand the issue from a non-Mormon perspective. Nobody
feels like being judged if the person doing the asking is Mormon, and
the answer is no.
I have seen that smooth look of superiority that comes over a person's
face when they find out that you aren't a member of the correct faith. I have also seen that superior look arise when people find out
that I'm LDS.
It is an issue fraught with peril. So, we dance instead of ask.
Locally, we look for all the stereotypical Mormon clues: big teeth, conservative
look, mid-calf shorts, neat hair, CTR rings, garment lines, etc.
But it's getting harder to tell who is and who isn't. Lots of clean-cut
Republican-looking people who aren't Mormons call Utah home. And there's
no guarantee that the tattooed and pierced weirdo next to you isn't waiting
for a mission call.
I know, maybe we should wear nametags. Or not. Thinking that we already
have each other figured out would only further prevent us from actually
getting to know each other.
Full credit goes to: The Salt Lake tribune
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