Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nu, ou pas nu?

After injuring my knee in the dead of a Montreal winter, I questioned whether I should remain a missionary. Uncertain how long my recovery would take, I felt that there wasn't much I could contribute to the work. What I didn't know, however, was that there was something very special in store for me. For although I couldn't participate in most normal missionary activities, I could appear on a live talk show to discuss nudity.

Allow me to explain.

After my injury I was given a new companion who was also dealing with some health problems, and we were assigned to work in the mission office. As office sisters, our job was a little tricky. There were two office elders, and the office couple was often called away on various and sundry errands. The tricky part? According to mission rules, two elders can't be alone with two sisters. Our office elders took this rule VERY SERIOUSLY. As soon as the office couple even hinted at their preparations for departure, the elders would suddenly bolt out of their chairs, and flee from our presence as fast as their Mr. Mac legs could carry them.

Often abandoned in the office, it became my job to answer all French-speaking calls whilst my companion worked on the mission newsletter. And so it was one fateful afternoon that a caller announced:

"I am calling to discuss with you your church's position on nudity."

"Our position?"

"Well, I've heard that Mormons don't believe in nudity. You guys are very modest."

"Yes, we do believe in modesty. Let me tell you why . . ."

I went on to explain to her our beliefs about the sacred nature of our bodies, the law of chastity, etc., etc..

And then she said:

"I find your point of view very interesting. Would you be willing to appear on a talk show to discuss your beliefs?"

I told her I didn't think I could, but she insisted I take her name and number. Laughing with my companion afterwards, I wondered if I should tell the mission president about the offer, certain that he'd say no. So I did. And he didn't.

In fact, he thought it was a great idea. President Hinkley had recently been interviewed on national television, and that had gone swimmingly! He was all for it.

And so, a week later, my comp and I found ourselves in the waiting room of a television studio in downtown Montreal. The male host of the program, sporting what to the best of my recollection was a lime green, satiny suit, platform shoes, gold hoop earrings, and a smartly trimmed goatee, spoke to me in rapid-fire French, telling me there was nothing to be nervous about. He said that there would be four people on the show besides himself: two opposed to nudity, and two pro. I say pro because I was told a few minutes later that the man and woman sitting opposite me were not merely "pro-nudity", but were in fact the FOUNDERS OF THE MONTREAL NUDIST SOCIETY. And the woman was about as close to naked as one could get without removing all of one's clothing. As her male counterpart smiled smugly at me from across the room, I, clad in a dress my grandmother had made for me (I believe there was rick rack involved), was introduced to my anti-nudity partner. She, a formidable woman who looked to be in her early 80s, took one look at my name tag and said:

"You're a Mormon? I hate Mormons."

And with that, we were lead into the studio. At this point I was fairly certain that this was not the type of program my mission president had pictured when he agreed to my participation, and I silently prayed that he would forget which channel I'd told him to watch. We were seated, the lights came up, and our host announced:


There's not much more to tell, really. My companion, who watched the show on a monitor in the other room, said that the camera focused mainly on me, and that my expression varied from looking vaguely horrified to looking like I was going to burst into tears at any moment. The host and the pro-nudes referred to me as a nun throughout the entire program, even after I explained (several times) that I wasn't. My anti-nude partner told everyone she hated Mormons, and then she fell asleep.

The next day my mission president told me he hadn't been able to find the right channel. I was immensely relieved until a shifty man at church told me he'd seen me on TV.

And taped it.


~j. said...

Do you think they would have been more open to your views if you HAD been a nun? Like at the Chicago airport?

Deb said...

Thank you for this story.
Getting my own blog together and I will have it up soon.

Kiki said...

Awesome story! Did the shifty man give you the tape as a mission souvenir?

c jane said...

I am impressed that your French was so good that you did an interview.
C'est cool lo!

cotton_in_the_medicine_bottles said...

Must have copy of nudie show!

Emmie said...

Carrie and Cotton,
Alas, I have no copy of the show. And I'm not really sure about "alas" . . .

C Jane,
I discovered during the interview that my French wasn't nearly as good as I thought it was when I wasn't teaching discussions or asking for directions!

Queen Scarlett said...

This was hilarious. And... your baby is so deliciously cute. Makes you want to kiss his cheeks all over. Good thing I'm seperated by miles of fiber optics.

Emmie said...

He is truly a delicious baby, and I'd love to take credit for it, but his cuteness is entirely due to my sister and her husband. I miss the little guy like crazy, and can only hope my future children will emulate their cousin!

Emmie said...

Queen Scarlett,

P.S. Your baby is adorable!

Queen Scarlett said...

I guess I should take off detail-oriented from my resume... should've read the profile first and not assume ... I'm an a$$... I'll be the first to admit it.

AND... YES... I think my baby is adorable too... so thank you!!! Always nice to find people of brilliance who think so too. She's even more so now... she can recognize and say and do the signs for apple, candy, cookie, cracker, banana (num-a-na...sometimes sounds like num nuts), bread, cereal, moon, stars, sun... must stop spewing.

L said...

I knew you had something to do with this...

Emmie said...

How do you come up with these?! My respect for you grows ever stronger.