My Temple of Doom: Part One

In my mind, I can imagine a day, far off into the future. With a warm fireplace flickering in the background, my children, my children’s children, and even the faint cries and coos of their children all sit around a table festooned with a holiday feast. The finest silverware clanks from forks and knives and the cheerful conversation and reminiscing of times shared together as a family fills the air. I sit at the head of the table, snug in my red knit sweater. I am not eating, but I’m taking in each sound and smell of the festive event and the warmth that spreads across the generations of my family—my heritage.

“…and then I found out he was standing right behind me! Can you believe it?” the unnamed spouse of an unnamed grandson laughs to the rest of the table. “So, what about you, Grandpa?” she says, looking at me though I am still rather uncomfortable with her referring to me by that name. “What’s your most embarrassing moment?”

“Oh, Dad doesn’t talk about that,” a son quickly retorts. “Believe me, we’ve tried to get it out of him for years. We should probably just change the subject. Could someone please pass me the green beans?”

“But, why won’t he talk about it? Everyone is sharing their own,” the spouse says.

“No, really, we shouldn’t keep bringing it up. Could you please just pass the…”

“The year was ’99, back in the old century,” I finally say, loud enough to silence the rest of the table. Everyone listens intently, even the youngest children. Sadness and nostalgia flicker across my eyes which stare straight forward as if looking directly into the memories I’ve tried so long to repress. Some would say they could see the faint reflection of a waving American flag in my eyes as I began my harrowing tale.

I made my way to my girlfriend’s house one summer morning. The sun had not yet come up and there was still a briskness in the air for July in Utah. I walked to her door, dressed in a shirt and tie and knocked gently so as to not wake up the other sleeping residents. It isn’t a usual occurrence to begin a date before 6:00 in the morning, but there was little that was usual about what was to come.

The plan for our date was to go to the temple to perform baptisms for the dead. That last sentence would either make perfect sense to someone who is LDS (you know, the Mormons) or would be horrifying to someone who is not. To summarize as much as possible for those who might be in the later categories, Mormons frequently make their way to temples to perform certain acts of worship. Much has been said about the “secretive” nature of temples, but what happens inside temples is not so much “secret” as it is “sacred”. That being said, the things that do happen are probably far less interesting than anything you are imagining at the moment. If Bill Paxton knows all about it, then it probably isn’t too much of a secret anymore. As I tell this story, I hope to keep that sacredness intact even while I use the most powerful tool of the devil—blogging. When it is all said and done, I am still a Mormon and I still believe that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us all as His children, but who might have a vendetta against me for some reason.

One thing that is done inside temples is baptisms for the dead. Rather than digging up the remains of infidels to dunk their skeletons in water, Mormons perform the baptism vicariously for that person—which is more efficient though much less CSI. This is something that youth 12 and older are invited to take part in and youth 16 and older are prone to exploit for a religious-themed dating experience. I know. We are weird.

World-renowned shooting guard, former second baseman, and all-around good guy Danny Ainge is a Mormon.
But it was for just such a purpose that I was waiting on the front porch of my girlfriend’s house at such an, interestingly enough, ungodly hour. After a few minutes and a few extra knocks, my girlfriend Tina (you remember “Tina,” don’t you?) came to the door, bleary eyed and pajama-clad. “I totally forgot that was this morning,” she claimed. She then also claimed that she could get dressed in just a couple of minutes. It took her closer to around 45 minutes all of which were spent with me sitting in the split-entry waiting for my chance to piously impress.

At long last we were off to the temple. Utah, being home to no fewer than one billion Mormons, has several temples. That morning, we decided to go to the Jordan River Temple which is near the south end of the Salt Lake Valley. Once we made our way there, a man with a suit coat and an earpiece met us at the front door as if we were to meet the President inside (which if you vote Republican this year might just be a possibility…our plan is near fruition!) and told us the temple was closed for cleaning. I was perfectly content with the idea that the Lord would recognize our effort and we could now go and enjoy a delicious Denny’s skillet breakfast. Tina, however, would not be dissuaded from her religious duties, so she suggested we go to another temple. So we went downtown, at the north end of the valley, and visited the Salt Lake Temple. If you are not LDS, you still would recognize the Salt Lake Temple. Its Camelot-esque architecture juts out from the otherwise conservative buildings of the Salt Lake City skyline. It is also used as the stock image for inspirational stories about the benevolent Mormon church and horrific cautionary tales about the occultist Mormon church.

At the entrance, rather than a sacred service agent, we were met by an aged, motherly matron, one of several volunteers, mostly retired, who spend their days in the temple dealing with people like me.

“Can I help you?” asked the elderly woman behind the counter, all in white from her hair to her clothes to her translucent skin.

“Yes, we are here to do baptisms for the dead,” I said, with a little too much pious pride.

“Oh dear,” the matron said as she looked at her white watch. “The last baptisms for the day take place at 10:00,” she said kindly. It was 9:56. Apparently, baptizing is a morning-only activity. They have to empty out the font before The Price is Right starts or something. “I’ll see if we can take you back there.”

She eventually came back to us and said that they would make a special exception for us and would take us back. If there was something we needed, it was to be made as a special exception. The matron led us quietly down a flight of marble stairs and through the labyrinthine hallways of the Salt Lake Temple. They were like a labyrinth because they were very maze-like, not because there is a Minotaur who might come out of a corner room and chase you through the hallways with a cleaver. I am not saying that there isn't one of those too, but I also can't say that there is one (wink). However, something akin to that horror was unknowingly waiting for me on the other side of the baptisimal font on that fateful day.

“Um, grandpa, can we take a break now and go get some popsicles or something for desert? I mean, your story is great and all...”

“Micah…you hush up now,” my daughter-in-law reprimands. “But if you are getting up, I’ll take a banana Creamie.”

Kids these days. They just can’t appreciate a good story.

To be continued… (which it is here if you need to get to it immediately.)

Gladys Knight, of Pip fame. Yeah, we got her too. Seriously.


Aubrey said...

Great. Now I'm hooked. Can't wait to see how it ends!!!

Dimond24 said...

Truley gripping.

mh said...

How long do we have to wait? Oh great. Now I want a banana creamie.

Rob & Michelle Eberly Family said...

Hello ... Where's the rest of the story?

The Doutts said...

Cam I can't believe your making everyone wait so long. Good thing I already know how it ends. Good stuff.

Dimond24 said...

I started reading your older posts, because there is nothing else of value to read on this thing they call the internet.