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Quacks and Oddities



        Well, I went on the Mormon temple tour. We had to wear white booties to protect the floors and rugs. "The booties have no religious significance," a tour guide told us. He was a little late as I had been worshipping them for at least ten minutes before I got the news. "Might have told me earlier!" I admonished.

        An usher came up and said, "Hi Steve." She thought I was my twin brother. I told her I wasn't. I tugged at my foot-long ponytail. She said she didn't remember my hair being so long. I told her that that was understandable since we had only just met. Everyone was cheerful. Later the usher passed and said, "Hi, Tom." Everyone thought I must be LDS so I lorded it all over them and acted like I owned the joint.

        We watched a short video on Mormon temples. Then we went up various stairs and looked at various doors with golden labels always in Spanish and English.

        I remember a lot of stairways and hallways. A huge, gaudy chandelier. A marriage room with something like a gymnast's horse but covered in felt on opposite sides of which I guess the bride and groom kneel and tie the knot or put on rings or something. The fire marshal had posted a golden sign that declared maximum occupancy was 70.

        I saw that baptismal room with the golden oxen underneath. Very clean-looking water and nice tiles and steps leading down. The tour guide told us that the oxen represented something or other in the Old Testament, a book you'd think was gospel the way he quoted from it.

        There were lots of paintings, most of which depicted Jesus accomplishing various tasks. To my surprise his portrayal  was a lot less like the Brawny paper towel guy than the depictions in most Mormon places, and certainly not the platinum blond, blue-eyed Swedish-style Jesus that I have seen in a few others. I tried my best to keep my big meat hooks off the paintings. I didnít poke or pick at them or anything else.

        There were a lot of other paintings of things like the Superstition Mountains, canyons, rivers, and the desert. One scene had Christ floating over a barren desert plain with miles of human figures floating in the sky on either side of him. The paintings all looked to have been done by the same artist. I asked the tour guide who painted them and he told me I could ask questions after the tour in a courtesy tent they had set up. I'm not sure he knew the answer. Later, I went to the tent and there were more paintings and one I recognized as a smaller knock-off of a big one I had seen inside. I got the feeling the paintings were prints or something, so I didn't ask about them because I didn't want the people manning the tent to be embarrassed.

        The tour guide didn't say much so we didn't learn anything except that married people who are Mormons are forever bonded and will join up again in heaven and things like that.

        The building was nice, but so are all nice new buildings that have that nice new paint smell. This building had a few tasteful appointments, but mostly I remember stairs and hallways with only a few moderately big rooms. What it lacked was a great big old Catholic-style room with high ceilings and stained glass where people are awed and where the janitor can practice yodeling when no one's about.

        I was a little disappointed, but I was still glad to have had the chance to see those bronze oxen.

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