Trouble in the Alley

Yesterday I was sitting in one of the few alleys in town, snagging wireless internet from the library.  It isn’t a real alley, but because we have so few (3?) we need to be generous with our definitions.  It has a garden and a bench, and is really more of a passageway between the library and the fish protection store than an alley.  My favorite alley is across the street.  You can tell it’s a real alley because it has graffiti and cigarette butts in it, and sometimes you even find people standing there smoking or swearing.  I know!

Anyway, I had a few minutes before I met my co-worker, so I sat on the steps in Faux Alley with my laptop, conducting important research on the internet.  I was researching Clark Bars, because they’re quite good except that they're inclined to get stuck in teeth.  I had my first Clark Bar in a long long time the other day, courtesy of E-bro, and he told me that's because they hardly ever make it across the Mississipi, which seemed implausible.

So,  I was reading about candy when two young Mormon men walked towards me from the river side.  I could tell they were Mormon by the black suits they wore, and I could tell they were young because of the way the suits fit, as if they’d both had major growth spurts since the suits were fitted. 

You see what I mean about the alley?  If this were a real alley, I’d be getting mugged by tweakers, not being saved by clean-cut young men wearing suits.

“Nice laptop,” Elder Amos said. 

“Thanks, Elder Amos.” I knew his name was Elder Amos by his large nametag. I don’t think the term “elder” was being used ironically, although he didn't appear to be capable of growing a beard.

I scooted over on the stairs to make room for them to pass, which they did.  A few seconds later, they came back. 

“Hey, do you like the internet?  We’ve got a really cool website that you should check out.” He handed me a card with a glossy picture of Jesus wearing a white robe and a yellow belt, with an address for the LDS website. 

“Thanks,” I said again.  I do like the internet.

“There are a lot of stories there about people opening their hearts to the heavenly father.  I think you’d enjoy that.  It will change your life.”

I wasn’t sure why Elder Amos thought that, because it didn’t seem like he knew much about me.   Maybe I look like the type of person who hangs out in an alley waiting to be saved. “Great, I’ll check it out,” I said, mostly because I wanted them to go away so I could continue my important research about candy.

They thanked me and went back up the alley towards Main Street, but then turned around again.  “We’d like to come to your house and talk more about this.”

“Oh, no thanks.”  They stood there for a moment looking at each other, as if they were trying to silently agree on whether or not they should push the issue, and then, for the third time, walked back towards Main Street, where perhaps the saving was better.

I’m not going to get into what I believe versus what they believe, at least not today, because that’s not my main point.  I know many fine people who make good neighbors and citizens and family members who belong to the LDS church, but suffice it to say that our beliefs are worlds apart.  My point here is that I find it so arrogant for a religion to assume they have the one answer that's best for everyone.

By this point in our lives, we’ve all figured out how to decorate the arc from birth to death with the things that keep us getting up in the morning and being decent to one another.  For me, it has nothing to do with a heavenly father and everything to do with the amazing people I’ve met a long the way, the mortals who struggle each day to make sense of this wonderful and confusing little planet; the people who light each other’s way in the dark times, celebrate together during the good, and generally, work to accept one another exactly as we are.


  1. You have to give them credit for being brave enough to approach folks though.

  2. better late than never ... on to day 5

  3. I love this post, especially the last paragraph. I couldn't agree more.

    It's really hard for me to be patient and nice with the soul savers when they show up at my door. The audacity alone makes me crazy. But then I try to think of them as misguided children and kindly shoo them away.

    I'm glad to know I'm not the only one doing important research on the internet! Have a great weekend.

  4. I think the last paragraph is beautiful. I think you should give a talk about it at our church. I'm serious Bets - you have such a gift. I would love to hear you share with the whole group.

    xo c*

  5. "This wonderful and confusing little planet." So well said! I'm going to turn it into a little mantra for the week. Oh, and look! The sun just came out to shine in out little planet, so I need to get out and dig around in it!

  6. B:

    You know how you enjoyed the Clark Bar and you wanted to share that with us? That’s all these LDS in their matching outfits want to do. They have found the epitome of Clark Bars and want to share the news with the world. They want you to have a bite, too; and me and everyone else, because they want you to live in ecstasy for always, not just until the chocolate runs out.

    Have I ever mentioned to you that you are one of the amazing mortals I have met on my life’s journey? You are. :o)

    ~ M ~

  7. Hey B!
    Marissa, with the cool shades and the attitude, nails it! Your Mormon uncle loves you just like that! (Too many exclamation marks? Sorry, but this has been that kind of day.)

  8. Comment should not be empty...........well, now, dammit, I know that!

    Being judged so harshly before even beginning has made me forget what I was going to say.

    I think it was simply that I love this blog and will keep returning no matter how you insult there.

  9. Of course I agree with all of the above, but you reminded me of something else. The drinking age went down to 18 while I was in college and so they put in an official campus drinking establishment and had a contest or something to name it. The college was Clark University, and instead of going with Clark Bar they decided on "the Pub." And that's why I don't give them any money.

  10. Why thank you all for reading, and for commenting. And M, excellent point, and you are one amazing mortal yourself! Mike, mean no offense, and I'm glad you're having an exclamation point kind of day!!! :-)
    Lo? You too, I mean no offense! Yikes, I'm glad you'll keep coming back.
    And Murr, I think that's a very valid reason to not give money. The Pub. Now THAT's never been done before...


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