Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Body and Blood

Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Body and Blood

Article excerpt

It's six o'clock, time for dinner and Little House on the Prairie reruns. I walk up the stairs as my mom is pulling some string beans out of the microwave. She asks me if I'll set the table while she gathers everyone for dinner, and I say yes. After my dad, brother, and sister show up, she turns the television down for family prayer. I can see the television glare flickering off the silverware and windows, but it's quiet while everyone kneels down.

My dad gives the prayer himself. He asks Heavenly Father to watch over my sister at college in Price, Utah, and says thank you for the food and the gospel and the prophet. I haven't figured out whether I want to say Amen at this point in my life so I just mutter something-not Amen, but not silence either.

The dinner is a Mormon casserole with cornf lakes on top of cheese potatoes, and the episode is the one where Mr. Edwards ends up reluctantly housing a chimpanzee circus refugee. The chimpanzee's name is Rose, and she's a burden at first, spilling f lour everywhere and pulling down the shelves in the Edwards's kitchen. Like all Little House episodes, it's a rerun on KBYU.

I've seen this one before and know that Rose and Edwards eventually develop a bond, but I don't feel like enduring the glares and dropped forks that would follow a request to switch the channel two turns to the right and watch The Simpsons instead. Sure, and maybe while we're at it we can ask God to cancel church this Sunday and we'll stay home and gamble on football games. Missing family dinner altogether is also out (If that's how you want to repay your mother for making this meal for us, that's your choice), so I'm here. But I eat my potatoes fast.

By the time Mr. Edwards has to fake Rose's death because she has been declared a danger and a menace for hitting Nellie in the face, I am finished and ask if I can clear my plate and be excused. I am sixteen years old, and I've been waiting all day for night to fill the city, for family dinner to be over so I canmeetmy friends at the park.

We meet at Anderson Park because it's private. The sign says there's a dusk-to-dawn curfew, but no police patrols ever come by, and there are ten-foot lights beaming into the pavilion at every angle. The lights shine all night long, so at any hour you can read the insults and numbers to call for a good time etched into the metal benches, and you can see bodies moving on the grass, too.

The park is hard to find if you haven't lived in Pleasant Grove your whole life. It's pocketed at the back of a residential neighborhood and can easily be mistaken for a rich person's yard if you don't see the green sign. It takes twenty minutes to walk there frommy house. I walk through the orchard, always on the lookout for deer, and then up Locust Avenue. I cut through the grounds of Pleasant Grove High School, across the football field, and up the bleachers. I cross the street and take Anderson Way. The park is the dot of a question mark at the end of a curving dead end.

I am the fourth one there. Travis is in the pavilion pouring a small bottle of something brownish that he must have stolen from his brother into a half-empty one liter bottle of Pepsi. Steve is showing Charles how to punch and quickly move back into a defense stance. Steve is the one who owns the boxing gloves, which are what gave us the idea in the first place. He is also the only one who claims to know the approximate rules of boxing. The rest of us know only one fighting strategy: Try to hit the other guy somewhere in the face as fast and hard as you can. I have heard lots of times that if you hit hard enough, you can knock some nose bones or something up into the brain and can kill someone. I don't know about that, but a fast, hard hit will at least turn the electricity off most people. Even if the juice cranks itself back up, you get the pleasure of seeing the other guy's nose bleed while you get your ass kicked.

We spend on average three nights a week boxing in a park. …

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