Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dieter Uchtdorf: The Rock Star General Authority

Dieter "The Rock Star" Uchtdorf

I have a favorite among the LDS general authorities, and it's not anyone who is related to me. The LDS head honcho I like most is Dieter Uchtdorf.

Dietet Uhtdorf has the requisite middle initial that all the rest of the LDS general authorities have, but I refuse to use it, not as any sign of disrespect toward Dieter Uchrdorf, but rather as a refusal to cave in to a silly LDS social convention. Once an LDS man reaches the general level of church authority, he ceases to exist just by his first and last name. He instead becomes either first initial  middle-name-by-which-one-is-called surname or first name middle initial surname. Once when I watched general conference, I noticed that President Uchtdorf identified himself as Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf.  While I may be guilty of attaching greater-than-intended signifance to the simple recitation of a person's name,  I viewed this as an ever-so-slight deviation from the silly stuffed-shirt middle or first inital custom.  For the record, if Dieter Uchtdorf personally asked me to call him Dieter ABCDEFGH Uchtodorf, I would do so each and every time I uttered his name.

I've never met Dieter Uchtdorf.  I was once  in the same room as he. I lingered not too far from him with the hope that I might get to shake his hand or that he at least might smile in my direction, but he didn't notice me.  I don't think he was being snobbish or rude. That sort of thing happens to me a lot. I suspect I possess  characteristics of a chameleon that allow me to blend in with my surroundings and to be not very noticeable. This trait sometimes serves me well, but at other times is frustrating.

I casually mentioned to my dad one day that I plan to invite Dieter Uchtdorf to my senior violin recital. It was while he was watching the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. I think the game ended up with a somewhat lopsided score in favor of San Diego State, but early in the game my dad was watching with what seemed to be genuine interest. I was taken by surprise when he turned away from the TV screen, and pointed his right index finger at me. "Don't you dare," he intoned.

"Why?" I asked him, curious as to the reason he would care.

"Because he might show up," my dad replied, offering no clarification as to why it would be a problem if this iconically benign man were to appear at my violin recital, or, for that matter, at any function. My dad turned his attention back to the TV and to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

"You really think there's even the slightest chance that Diester Uchtdorf would come to my violin recital?" I  inquired.

My dad chewed and swallowed a mouthful of potato chips (Lays' chicken-and-waffle-flavored potato chips, if you can believe such a thing even exists; I'm certain I'd toss my most recent meal if I as much as  opened the bag and took a whiff, much less actually ate one of the revolting things) looked at me as he thought about it momentarily, then flatly responded, "No."

"Then why would you care if I sent him an invitation?" I pressed him.

"Because nothing good could possibly come of it," he told me. "He might see the invitation as a request for a gift." He said this as though the idea of receiving a cash gift through the mail from Dieter Uchtdorf or anyone else would be something that might be a problem for me. "And we can't entirely rule out the possibility that he might think your grandfather would be offended if he didn't show up." This in itself was almost laughable, as however remote the odds might be that Dieter Uchtdorf would attend my recital, the chances of my grandfather himself showing up are  even slimmer.  Were I to suffer an untimely death, if my grandfather were to make an appearance at the funeral at all,  it would be only to gloat and to proclaim the event a most joyous occasion. He's certainly not coming to my violin recital.

"Grandpa ranks lower on the totem pole than he does," I countered. "Why would he think he had to show up to appease Grandpa?"

"Because we have no idea what's gone on behind closed doors in meetings and what disagreements the two of them might have had, and how he might think that if he doesn't show up at this recital, Grandpa will have it in for him," he concluded, putting another chicken-and-waffle-flavored potato chip in his mouth. "God, these things are disgusting."

"Then why do you keep eating them?" I asked incredulously.

"Because no one else is going to get them out of the pantry if I don't," he answered with his typically  condescending Duh! Why do you even ask? inflection.

"I'll get 'em out of the pantry for you." I took the bag from him, walked into the kitchen, crumpled it, and dropped it into the trash.

"What in hell  do you think you're doing?" he demanded. He got up, took the vile potato chips, if they can even be called potato chips, out of the trash, sat down, un-crumpled the bag, and began eating them again. "Go away," he told me, " and don't even think about inviting Dieter Uchtdorf to your recital. I'm not kidding."  He refocused his attention onto the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, stuffing one chicken-and-waffle-flavored potato chip after another into his mouth until the bag was empty. He handed the empty bag to me, saying "Now you can throw it away."

What I  didn't share with him that it was too late and that Dieter Uchtdorf's invitation to my recital had been mailed about six weeks earlier. Even so, that would be a ridiculouly late invitation if there was any way he would come even if he could and had the slightest inclination to do so. His schedule is probably set a year in advance.


  1. I'm not sure what is most unsettling about this post, Uchtdorf, the vile chips, or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

  2. OMG… this was funny!

    Those potato chips do sound horrible.

  3. Just thinking of the smell of those chips from across the room almost makes me nauseous.

  4. I remember when Frito-Lay was test-marketing 3 new varieties of Lay's last spring, and I tried the chicken-waffle ones. They were all right, a little strange, but they made me want real fried chicken, which I usually don't buy. So I bought fried chicken a few times at the local supermarket deli and got it out of my system.

    I couldn't imagine eating the chicken-waffle chips for fun. There's a much better new variety called garlic bread, and I love them. Of the three new varieties, my neighborhood convenience store carries only the garlic bread chips.

    Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf, I like your name. It reminds me of Georg Friedrich Handel. You're welcome to share my garlic bread chips any time.

  5. I, too, think "Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf" has a lovely ring to it.

    I can imagine how garlic flavoring might be an asset to potato chips.