The Best Friends
Snide Remarks #308
"The Best Friends"
by Eric D. Snider
Published in The Daily Herald on July 31, 2002
In the LDS Church, there is a program called home teaching, wherein two gentlemen are assigned to be your friends for an hour or so each month. During that hour, you may ask these fellows, who are indeed your bosom chums, for assistance or guidance in any matter. The hour is concluded with hearty well-wishes and slaps on the back and assurances that you may call upon these men at any time for help or counsel, after which they leave and you neither see nor hear from them again until a month has passed, at which point the exercise is repeated.
Or at least that's how it sometimes turns out. In theory -- and often in practice -- it's a wonderful program that helps a lot of people. But sometimes we religious folk aren't so hot at making things work the way they should. And more often than not, I suspect it's the home teachees, rather than the home teachers, who screw it up.
My roommate Raymond (names have been changed) and I had a visit from the occasional best friends in June, and we had a fine discussion about things like my being a movie critic, and what movies do I like, and could I get them some free tickets to some movies? They also presented a diverting sermon whose subject matter escapes me now. At the end, one of them offered a prayer, during which he forgot my roommate's name. He said, "Bless Eric and ... ... ... his roommate." He struggled for many seconds, during which I thought it would be funny if I adopted a God-sounding voice and said, "His name is Raymond." But two things I remember from my upbringing are that doing funny things during prayers is generally frowned upon, and impersonating God never ends well.
So I let him struggle, and he finally gave up and said "his roommate." In a discussion some of us had later on, we determined this was better than guessing at the name and getting it wrong. I occasionally encountered this problem as an LDS missionary, meeting with and praying for a lot of people on a daily basis. You hate to get the name wrong, because then the wrong parties receive the blessings. You say "Johnson family" when you meant "Thompson family" and suddenly the Thompsons get nothing, while the Johnson family -- whom you don't even know, and who may be a family of pornographers -- gets a load of blessings.
So that was June's visit. By the time the end of July rolled around, circumstances had changed a bit. Raymond, my roommate, was dating a young lady seriously enough to have started attending a congregation for married people, so my home teachers had no jurisdiction over him anymore. And on this particular Sunday, my actual best friends Luscious Malone and Tanny Tantan were at my house, too busy reading Entertainment Weekly and watching the Food Network to be interested in hanging around for a visit from the ecclesiastical best friends.
And so the imminent arrival of the ecclesiastical best friends caused a flurry of activity, and my house became the site of a French farce. Doors opened and slammed as Luscious and Tanny scurried into another room to watch TV and read, while Raymond ducked into his quarters. Immediately, the first door opened because Luscious and Tanny had decided a larger room would be more comfortable for hiding -- Luscious was making Anne Frank references by now -- so they scampered down the hall. Tanny then darted back to the living room to retrieve his shoes and car keys, fearful any evidence that human beings other than me were present would result in the best friends demanding I produce them so they could be their best friends, too. I suppose he imagined the home teachers had robot spiders that would search the premises, like in "Minority Report."
The visit went fine. I like my home teachers, as they are ordinary folks with a genuine interest in me (and, possibly, free movie tickets) -- you know, the way it's supposed to be. And if I'm not getting anything out of the visits, it's probably because of all those doors slamming in the back of the house distracting me.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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