Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Part One:
Today is, as everyone seems duty bound to say, an historic day in the history of the United States: the inauguration of the first black President of the United States of America. Only time will show whether it is a great day or a tragic day for the country. I am not against having a black man, or woman (black or white) for that matter, as President: I am just not convinced this is the right one. There are several conservative black men whom I highly respect, and for whom I would have voted without hesitation. They have economic and political knowledge and expertise far beyond the "hope and change" rhetoric of Mr. Obama, but are not politicians, have no political machine, and could never be elected.

I hope that President Obama takes a more moderate road than the one on which he campaigned and that he will eschew the radical, far-left, socialist agenda of some of his biggest monetary supporters. I sincerely hope he will reflect deeply on the oath of his office: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."(Article II, Section 1., paragrph 7); and not try to reinterpret the Constitution by executive order or by further encouraging activist judges. I am hopeful but worried, having read many of his statements about the Constitution.

Part Two:
Here is another memoir. Background: In February, 1967, I left home as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At that time missionaries spent a week in Salt Lake City for general training and instruction before leaving for the mission field. Those who were going to non-English speaking missions were sent to Provo to learn the basics of the languages they would be speaking. There was no Missionary Training Center then: language missionaries were housed in different dormatories on the BYU campus or around Provo. I was to learn Spanish, so I was sent to Knight-Mangum Hall on campus with my companion, Elder Barker.

The Smack Heard ‘Round the World
By Michael L. Goodman

I deliberately throw back the covers, swing my feet out of bed, and slowly sit up. The pain in my chest throbs with each heart beat. The narcotic pain pill isn’t working: I feel like death warmed over, but I know exactly what I am going to do in the next thirty seconds.
I have been at Knight-Mangum Hall, the Spanish language missionary training facility on the BYU campus, for two months. Actually, two and a half weeks of that time I have spent across the street in the campus medical center suffering with a viral heart infection. My companion, Elder Barker, and I had occupied the room on the southeast corner of the fourth floor all by ourselves until the week I had my “heart attack.” That week two new greenies were assigned to our room, and we lost the convenient storage space of the empty bunk beds by the door. I remember Elder Evans’ name only because of what happens this evening.
Elder Barker and the greenies have gone down to the showers at the other end of the hall. I have turned out the lights and eased into bed after taking my pain pill. As I lie here in the soothing dark solitude wishing I were home, a rumble of voices, banging doors, shouts, laughter, and running foot-falls begins to swell in the hall. A shaving cream fight has erupted down by the showers, probably instigated by fun-loving Elder Barker, and is rolling through the hall sucking missionaries out of their rooms to join the melee.
Into the room burst the greenies; on go the lights! They are giggling and jostling and punching each other while rummaging through their things searching for ammunition. They don’t hear me asking them to be quiet or to turn off the lights as they fling themselves back into the battle. The door is open. The lights are on.
Knowing that they are just going to come back anyway, I foolishly pull myself out of bed, shut the door, and turn off the lights. I am tempted to take another pill. Happily, the noise level ebbs somewhat as the action flows back to the far end of the hall and the showers.
A few minutes after I am back in bed, the noise level drops significantly. There is only the thump of running feet and quickly slammed doors and anxious, hushed voices admonishing, “Hurry!” Move!” “Go!” The zone leaders from three floors down must have come up to investigate the commotion, and the combatants are beating a hasty retreat.
The lights flash on as the greenies rush into the room, flushed, giggling, and too doped on adrenaline to be quiet or ready to sleep. They hop into their bunks, chatting and recounting the whole history of the whom and the what and the when and the where of the great shaving cream war.
I ask them again to be quiet. “Please,” I implore, “I am still sick. I’m exhausted, and I need some sleep. Please turn off the light and go to sleep.”
Elder Evans on the top bunk, rises up on his elbow, smirks at me and then says with a simpering tone and sarcastic smile, “Tuck us in and give us a kiss, MOTHER.”
His smirky smile vanishes when he sees me throw off the covers and sit up in bed. He cowers back slightly as I approach. His eyebrows rise as his eyes enlarge. He thinks I am going to hit him. But I am not going to hit him. I deliberately take his head between my hands and plant the biggest, loudest smack of a kiss I am able to pucker upon his hot, flushed cheek.
“Now,” I say through a tooth-clenched smile, enunciating each word, “be-quiet-and-go-to-sleep.”
Without taking my eyes off his horrified face, my hand slaps the light switch by the door, and the room is plunged into dark, terrified silence. Shuffling back to my bed, I clasp my hand over my mouth to stifle a chortle. Didn’t think I’d do that, did you, Elder. Well, now you know. Don’t mess with Goodman.
When Elder Barker finally returns, he is greeted by a stereophonic “Shhhhh” from the greenies’ bunks and an urgently whispered, “Don’t make any noise.”
I smile off to sleep.

No comments: