Sunday, May 30, 2010

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Jim was the only non-Mormon in my Provo neighborhood. He was 13 and built like a young linebacker with jagged teeth and a long curly mullet. He came from a small town in Iowa, 1300 miles away from Utah, a place were Mormonism was the minority. Jim’s mother died giving birth to his younger brother; his father, overwhelmed by the idea of raising two young boys alone, shipped Jim and his brother to their grandparents’ home in Utah.

I often lingered at his house to watch Jim’s grandfather lean his elbows on the deck dropping F-bombs at Jim and his brother. Also originally from Iowa, Jim’s grandparents had lived in Utah for over two decades and, despite multiple chats with Mormon missionaries, held to what some in the community called their worldly ways. While others attended Sunday sacrament meeting, Jim’s Grandpa worked on an old Mustang, ashtray to his left and a beer in his right hand, a tapestry of obscenities preceded any clanking metal. Jim’s grandmother contrasted the modestly dressed stay-at-home moms by watering flowers in a spaghetti string tank top and daisy dukes. She also contributed to the family income by selling Avon.

Most of the neighborhood viewed Jim as a bad influence due to his family’s non-Mormonism. I suspected that Jim had few friends outside of myself. He often threw a football in his front yard and dove to catch it, and I could tell by the way he lingered and drifted his eyes across the street between throws that he longed for someone to be at the other end of the pass. Jim was also the only other kid in the neighborhood that lived with his grandparents, and even though I was not into sports, Nintendo, or cars, three things Jim favored, we often spent hours discussing how long elderly people spent in the bathroom and how much we hated the Lawrence Welck Show.

As far as I know, Jim held no religious affiliation. His home held the strange wonder of a tropical island. I’d never smelled coffee, beer, or cigarettes until I entered his kitchen. Images of Christ and LDS temples did not hang on his walls nor did he say morning, night, or occasional prayers. He’d never bore a testimony of the Lord and his family didn’t have Monday night scripture study. He was free of the constant reminders of baptismal covenants, Christ’s sacrifice, and sexual morality. Outside of school and sports, his life had little obligation and I envied the uninterrupted pace of his existence.

Jim was also the only friend I had that was willing to talk about sex. We sat next to each other on the bus softly discussing nipples, blow jobs, and sexual positions. Jim rubbed his hand through the coarse hair of his upper knee, licking his lips and not holding back when expressing his longing to explore a woman’s body. He avoided euphemisms, saying vagina instead of bathing-suit-area and tits instead of no-no-spots, and he spoke with confidence even though both of us were only slightly familiar with these parts of a woman’s body. I found how sexually candid he was refreshing and longed for his ability to talk about sex without pondering on it’s morality.