Of Dinosaurs and Priests

Just reminiscing a bit here, which might seem a bit self-indulgent, but you’re reading a website named after me so you shouldn’t be surprised by a bit of self-indulgence. I was listening to the Avett Brothers cover the very pretty hymn, “In the Garden” and that got me thinking.

My dad dated a crazy lady for a bit. Most kids think the person their single parent is dating is crazy. It’s almost a required facet of teenage angst, but trust me, Marla was of the batsh*t variety (I’ve changed her name in order to protect whatever is left of her theoretical reputation).

I did something once to upset her and she came over to our house to lodge her complaint with the father-figure. She was my track coach and I think this might have been the time a friend and I ran around the outside of the track during the two mile singing the theme song of Spongebob Squarepants. Fortunately the front door was locked and she was left outside yelling in. We were eating popcorn and watching something on the tube and turned from one glass screen of unbelievable trash to another, snacking on hot-air popped, butter-soaked Orville goodness. She ran herself dry and stomped away.

She was a Nondenominational Christian (can I hear an amen, brother?) and dad is a Mormon (praise the Mormon Jesus!). Not sure how they thought that kind of relationship would work out but whatever. We went to several functions with Marla, led by their charismatic preacher. He’d stand at the front of the room and pray like he was shooting the breeze with the Lord over a few cans of Busch Lite on the back porch, and the folks in the audience would chime in where appropriate to remind him of those needing blessings. “Don’t forget Mary-Margaret!” some grandma would shout out and the preacher would nod as if Mary-Margaret had been next on his list anyway. “That’s right, Lord, bless dear Mary-Margaret in her time of grief.”

We went to an activity once for young adults and they’d laid out big lengths of craft paper from 3’ rolls on the gymnasium floor and told us to draw scenes from the bible while we snacked on sugar cookies. I knelt and because the preacher had told me to draw one thing I drew something else (Anne says I have a defiance complex to which I reply don’t tell me what I do and don’t have, dammit). I drew a dinosaur eating people from atop a fortress wall.

The pastor made his rounds and made sure to talk to me and my sister Chantry since we were new and he likely viewed us as potential members of his righteous flock. He grinned affably at my doodling and jokingly asked what chapter and verse I was drawing. (*An aside here: Like most people I typically think of the right response later in the shower when it’s much too late to use, but there are occasionally golden moments when the answer comes on time…)

I looked up at the pastor, then back at my drawing, and back at him and I said, “Crap, this is from the Book of Mormon. They all run together anymore.”

He didn’t know what to say to that and moved on pretty quick to pester my quieter and better behaved sister.

Anyway, I always think about crazy Marla and my brief stint attending the Nondenominational Christian Church when I hear the song “In the Garden” and have to smile. It was fun.


P.S.      I always think of the term “non-gender-specific” when I see the word nondenominational.