The following are true tales, without embellishment.
The Primary president was doing sharing time one Sunday soon after my first calling to teach in Primary. The topic was Word of Wisdom; kids had to choose a picture and put it on the bulletin board on the good or bad side. Cigarettes, bad, apples, good. Then there was a picture of macaroni and cheese. The child put it on the good side—no evil here. But wait, President disagrees. Macaroni and cheese is a processed food. We shouldn't eat it all the time. It isn't good for our bodies. So she moves it to the bad side. I bite my tongue, nearly drawing blood. This is officially the most confusing Word of Wisdom lesson for kids under eight ever. I'm confused even. I clearly need to ask more questions about what my kids are learning each Sunday while they’re away from me.
Our whole stake is reorganized so we are in a different ward after a dozen years in the same one. I show up at the building on a week night to get my temple recommend renewed. There's a guy hanging around the bishop's office who I see every week but don't know, so I put on my friendly face.
"Hi, I'm Eliana Osborn. I don't think we've met yet."
"I'm Brother X."
"X? I think I know your wife."
"I'm not married."
"XY X? You guys have to be related, right? She used to be in the stake Relief Society?" I keep talking for some reason, even though the man has folded his arms across his chest defensively.
“We were married. After twenty years she decided she didn't want to be married to me anymore."
I apologize. This is very awkward. I had no idea of this piece of stake gossip and certainly wasn't trying to get into something. The man clearly is not over this. He keeps talking, telling me about how it all went down three years ago. I'm overjoyed when the counselor is ready to meet with me.
My sons are growing out their hair. On one kid, it looks very cute. He's got the surfer thing going on and is frequently complemented on his wild hair. On the other one, not so much. He's got different hair. It hangs funny when it is long. It looks worse when he sweats and pulls the damp strands down into pointy sideburns. I feel strongly that I should let them have control over this aspect of their lives though, so I'm letting it go. Really. Almost all the time. OK, I may complain to blog readers and my husband, but I'm not forcing either kid to get a haircut. Offering? Yes.
Post sacrament meeting, the people in the row behind me stand up in the aisle and start talking to me as I collect my stuff. I know them in passing, can tell you their names, but this is probably the first or second time we've ever conversed.
"What's wrong with that kid's hair?" asks the man.
"Ha ha, I know, he's growing it out," I reply.
"Looks like someone went after him with pinking shears," man continues.
"It is the summer, I'm letting him do what he wants," I say, trying to keep it light.
"He's got a good head of hair. Maybe could use some conditioner …"
I don't hear the rest as I'm walking away to teach a class.
I'm in the hall walking around during Relief Society, holding a baby for someone with non-baby friendly responsibilities. I run into a friend with her own baby, chatting with another woman in the ward. We discuss summer plans, the weather. Woman I Don't Know Well starts talking about her husband.
"He's teaching the lesson in EQ today. He's just going to tell them that everyone looks at porn. Then they can get to the rest of the lesson without being weird. I mean, he's addicted to porn. He's got a problem with it. He's working on it. Everyone does it."
I don't know what to say. I'm looking for something supportive but I'm kind of annoyed at the idea that every man is a creepy liar who spends his time online doing who knows what.
And she keeps going! I won't detail her further confessions on behalf of her spouse, but you get the idea.
On the car ride home, I ask my husband about his lesson before saying that I got a preview of it.
I can't recall hubby's exact words, but he's peeved too at the implication throughout elder's quorum that if he wasn't willing to admit using pornography, he was lying.
Do you have any weird conversations or happenings from your Sunday meetings this year? All of these examples have taken place within the past year, except one. Please tell me I'm not alone.
Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best.
Image credit: Steven Guzzardi (used with permission).