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They didn’t leave with first prize, my soul, but the Mormon missionaries walked away with a consolation prize. Two young women walked down the driveway and identified themselves and their affiliation in an overly exuberant manner while I washed my car. They were cheerful enough and weren’t keeping me from my task at hand, so I answered their questions as I scrubbed the wheels and didn’t offer my opinion unless they asked for it. I’ve spent enough time with zealous believers of various faiths to know that to reasonably debate points of doctrine (building one’s argument on a particular religion’s sacred texts is to employ circular logic and so does not count as reasonable) is as effective as curing a headache by bashing one’s head against Grandma’s gigantic porcelain statue of the Sacred Heart.

One was from somewhere and the other was from South Korea. A minute into the pleasantries the Korean girl let out a big yelp. The other girl simultaneously said, “Oh! A llama! A llama! How many llamas do you have?” Interspersed among the llama questions (“What do llamas do for? Like, like, like, a cow that you get meat?” The Korean girl was so excited that her English usage suffered. I should have told them we eat them) were the usual missionary questions:

Do you have a church you go to?

No.

Have you ever gone to church?

Oh, yes. [Only every Sunday – and I do mean everyand every goddamn Holy Day of Obligation for the first 19 years of my life. Probably way more than you’ve gone, sweetheart.]

Has anyone ever invited you to the local Mormon church over there on, um, on . . .?

Yes.

What were their names?

I don’t know, they were just like you. [And you can be sure I won’t remember your names, either.]

What church did you go to?

I think that’s a little personal, don’t you?

I have no problem telling anyone what church I went to, but when I was twelve I read an interview with Cher. She gave that answer when asked that question and I’ve always wanted to do the same.

Oh, no! Not at all! Why wouldn’t you want to name your church? Do you know anything about our church?

Of course.

Oh, just what you’ve heard, or do you know anyone from our church?

Both.

I would like my prize now, for not saying “I know all about you people: I watch Big Love.” Because I bet they’ve never heard that before and have a script prepared that explains how they are LDS and not FLDS.

Do you have a family?

Yes.

How many kids do you have? [What if we had no children, even though we desperately wanted them, because we were unable to conceive? I would never ask that question of a stranger.]

Two. How many do you have?

Oh, none! It’s just me! [Seriously, they spoke only in question and exclamation marks.]

Oh, then you’re not married? [A cross-examination trick: never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.]

Oh, no! We’re not married, just out here doing our missionary work! [I should have asked if they were a couple.] Is there a reason you haven’t accepted the offer to visit our church?

Thank you, sweet Jesus, for giving me an opening.

Yes. Until the Mormon church changes its opinion on homosexuals and gay marriage and quits its presumptuous practices of baptizing the dead and implying that others’ beliefs are invalid, as missionaries are wont to do, I have no interest in anything Mormon.

I lied. I am fascinated by Mormons (and religion in general) and have read and studied lots about them.

Oh! Well, everyone’s different!

Here, they looked up at the house, maybe looking to see if they’d stumbled upon a dyke compound. I was glad that Captain OCD was busy in the house, cooking dinner, and willed him to not come outside and blow the scene they were probably painting in their heads.

No, actually, everyone’s pretty much the same. It’s just that some people are bigots.

Okay! Well, you have a nice evening!

You, too!

Halfway down the driveway, they turned around and asked if they could take pictures with the llamas: “For my friends! We don’t have those in Korea!” I told them sure, and got Daisy to come to the fence. The Korean girl stood with her back at the fence and then let out a big squeal. As her fellow missionary was taking the picture, Daisy reached around until her nose was perpendicular to the girl’s cheek, all the while blowing on her face and then nuzzling her neck. They are big animals that can be scary if you don’t know any better, they blow on you (instead of sniffing, like a dog does), and everyone thinks they spit, so I was impressed that the girl stood there while her picture was being taken, albeit squirming and squealing. They didn’t leave with my soul, but I was happy to have given them at least a little something to take with them.