My father, the polygamist!
One day when riding a train through Europe I started a conversation with the person next to me. They promptly asked me if I was Mormon. My answer is always a simple, “I was raised Mormon but left the church years ago.” When I say this a flood of questions follows. “How did you grow up without electricity? How does it feel to wear regular clothing? How did you get away?” The question that is asked almost every time and is my favorite, “How many wives does your father have?” This is a classic. Over the years I have become an expert at answering the short answer to what a Mormon is, always staying calm and polite.
Many of my friends have spent hours asking questions. One day a close friend came to my house with the French newspaper Le Monde (the equivalent of the New York Times in France). She looked worried and wanted to have coffee with me. I asked her what was wrong. “I need to talk to you about your Dad.” I was curious and sat down promptly, “What about my Dad?”
She waited until I was seated and followed with, “Le Monde brought out an article on Mormons. I’ve read it, and it states all Mormons have more than one wife. Your Dad is lying to you, he has secret wives.” She reached her hand across the table and held my hand looking into my eyes worried. I burst into laughter. She continued, “This is serious, you’ve been brainwashed, I am sure read this.” I stopped laughing, grabbed the newspaper and skimmed the article. The article was not talking about the Mormons but the re-organized Mormons, the group that lives in Colorado City. I had some history and some explaining to do. My friend was upset with the paper; it is the most esteemed French paper. One little word was missing, one misunderstanding and the entire meaning changed.
I have never read the news the same again. Don’t get me wrong, I read the news almost daily, but I am critical, I ask questions and I know the journalist might just get it wrong or write from his bias. Being raised Mormon, learning different languages, having to deal with people thinking the oddest things about me has taught me I just might have it wrong about another culture or religion. You really can’t know it all, and yes even the biggest newspapers get it wrong on occasion.
Oh and P.S. my Dad only has one wife, he calls her WW for Wonder Woman, and they are the cutest couple you can imagine.
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife