Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Favorite General Conference Memory

Love Is a Battlefield

Sister Julie B. Beck appears to be in greater pain than my mom was when she fell and split her chin open.

My mom has a couple of glasses of wine a week, and she gets a bit beyond buzzed at the party she hosts each St. Patrick's Day, but she's otherwise not that much of an alkie, and is definitely the lighter drinker of the two of my parents. At least once, however, she deviated from her normally moderate approach to alcohol consumption. I'm going to make her sound like a complete lush in this post, but what the hell?

A few years ago -- I believe it was in spring -- my mom had several of her favorite friends and relatives over for brunch on a weekend for some unexplained reason. My dad was golfing at the time. I haven't a clue as to where anyone else's husband was. Two of the guests were practicing Mormons, though both had and still have -- at least as far as I know -- senses of humor. Four or five of the guests had somewhat direct Mormon connections, as in having married someone who once was or perhaps still was a practicing Mormon, or having a sibling who had converted to or had married a Mormon. A couple of the ladies had been Mormons in prior incarnations but had either officially or unofficially renounced  the faith.  The remaining few couldn't have distinguished a Mormon from a Hare Krishna  even if they'd had a picture of George Harrison back in the day in one hand and a relatively recent picture of Mitt Romney in the other hand to use as visual aids. The main point is that it was a rather motley crew gathered that morning in terms of the Mormonism factor  of the brunch attendees.

Because it was either the first Sunday in October or the first Sunday in April -- and again, I'm reasonably certain it was April -- the LDS semi-annual or annual (depending upon whether it was actually October or April, but I'm still pretty sure it was April) General Conference was on the BYU channel on TV.  Someone who had already been hitting the Mimosas quite heavily suggested that General Conference be turned on. My mom was sufficiently under the influence of mimosas and Bloody Marys to think it was a good idea.

My mom fiddled with the TV remote control until she had the TV so screwed up that all that could be seen was the full screen of the closed captioning for the hearing impaired of some program that was on a channel that should not have been in our TV lineup.  (My brother Matthew probably ordered it without my parents' knowledge.) 

To say that the closed-caption translation for the program was even as mild as R-rated would have been akin to saying that Bound & Gagged magazine (which I only know exists because I googled "list of pornographic magazines")  is intended primarily for children aged ten and under who desire to reaffirm their LDS or fundamental Christian religious beliefs. 

I never saw much of the actual program the sign language lady was translating, but the sign language alone for the content  was itself pornography personified. It would be indelicate for me to be more specific, but my hormone-surging brother excused himself from the room while holding the sports section of the newspaper in front of himself from the waist down to avoid humiliating himself or embarrassing my mother, though she was so far from rationality that I doubt she had the capacity to feel being hit over the head with a sledgehammer, much less to fell embarrassment that my brother's hormones were manifesting themselves in such an obvious manner. I share this solely to illustrate just how graphic the sign language was. 

My Aunt Joanne, as one of the two practicing Mormons present, was not bombed. She took the remote control, got it off full-screen closed-captioning (we got a tiny glimpse of the show for which we'd seen the rather intriguing ASL translation; the program itself was almost a disappointment after the tremendous build-up the closed captioning had given us had given us).

So Aunt Joanne found the BYU station, and our viewing of the One-Hundred-and-Forty-Somethingth General Conference began. The MoTab was caterwauling away about the prophet. Which prophet to whom they referred they did not specify. The ladies started some sort of drinking game, where everyone except those who didn't drink downed a shot of something potent each time a speaker used the word even. Mormons are fond of the use of the word even, as in even Jesus Christ, or even Joesph Smith, or even Thomas S. Monson.  I told my dad once that I didn't understand the meaning of the word even in the context that Mormons used it. He said not to feel bad  because they didn't have any idea what they meant, either.  They just like the sound of it.

At that point, Sister Julie B. Beck, General Relief Society president at the time, took the stand. Female versions of LDS General Authorities, while denied the priesthood, the mysterious General Authority stipend, and most other benefits afforded their male counterparts, do nonetheless hold the privilege of using middle initials. That almost evens things out, wouldn't you say? The men get to make all the decisions of importance, control all the money, receive all the money that is paid out, receive positions of authority for life, and gain access to the church-owned vacation spots. Perhaps the female "leaders" get to use the vacation facilities in off-seasons as well if the males don't want them at the time; I really don't know. In any event, wouldn't it be lovely to vacation in south Florida in August? THAT would certainly make up for second-class status, even if you were among the very upper echelon of that second class.

Anyway, as my mom saw Sister Beck take the stand to begin her talk --- I couldn't tell you if it was one of the more momentous diatribes, such as the "Mothers Who Know" speech about taking their daughters to church each Sunday with hair brushed to perfection and their sons in freshly ironed white shirts and ties with neatly combed missionary haircuts, or one of her more mundane ramblings. I wouldn't know, because my mom muted the TV.

My mom then stood atop the fireplace hearth right next to the large-screen TV and began belting out Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield" as though it was Julie B. Beck singing the song rather than ranting about the importance of homemaking or whatever the subject of her rant. My mom is a classically trained vocalist with a bachelor's degree in vocal performance. Stage tunes, too, are well within her genre. I could even see her trying to imitate Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, or even (may she rest in peace) the late Whitney Houston, but Pat Benatar was reasonably far from her range of credulity. Still, it was funny -- funnier than hell, even. That was, until my tipsy mother stumbled, fell to her knees onto the floor, and split the underside of her chin on the bricks or the raised fireplace hearth. 

Someone immediately grabbed a dishtowel, and someone else grabbed ice. My mother, quite well anesthetized from her morning mimosas, continued to sing "Love Is a Battlefield" the best she could with two people compressing her chin with a towel-wrapped ice pack. She was feeling little if any pain at all.  Miraculously, the only blood that stained anything was on a cheap throw rug we should have gotten rid if before we moved to our present house, anyway, as it didn't match the decor of our present house.

My Aunt Joanne, as one of the two  sober people present and as an MD  -- a dermatologist by training and board certification -- jumped into action. She raided my dad's emergency stash and expertly stitched my mom's boo boo. My Aunt Heather, a pediatric nurse practitioner, probably could have done the same thing with almost equal expertise had she not been even drunker than my mom was. 

I remember my Aunt Joanne commenting that the use of Novocaine was probably redundant but that she would inject my mom with it anyway. After the wound had been stitched, one of the drunks suggested that my aunt give my mom a Vicodin or two, but my aunt answered that doing such would be an especially bad idea considering my mom's blood-alcohol content, and that my mom didn't seem to be feeling much pain, anyway.

We all watched the rest of the particular session of General Conference. In the midst of a seemingly never-ending talk by Richard G. Scott, my mom, stretched out in a recliner, fell asleep right in the middle of her rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." 


  1. That sounds like a very exciting party! Lucky for your mom that so many medical people were around. I don't remember ever seeing my mom drunk, though she and I both blush when we drink.

  2. Guinness, or the half bottle I typically drink, doesn't make me blush, but I don't know about other alcohol.

    How's your mom doing, anyway?

    1. My mom is very chipper. I know my dad's death was painful, but she is doing fine.

  3. That sounds about right. Wish I'd been there!