Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Mormon Temple

Ten years ago today, on April 24, 1997, the Mormon Church held an “open house” for the media at its then-new temple in St. Louis (pictured). At the time, I was working at KWMU, the NPR station in St. Louis, and was keen to go, since non-Mormons (such as yours truly) are not permitted inside temples after they are dedicated. My news director, Lester Graham, was skeptical about the newsworthiness of the event, but I convinced him to let me cover it anyway.

There was a large tent set up outside the temple where the reporters were divided into small groups before being led inside by Mormon guides.

Walking into a Mormon temple is not like walking into a grand cathedral. It’s more like walking into an apartment building. Mormons divide their temples into a series of rooms on different levels, where various sacraments (e.g., baptism, marriage) are performed. I found this very interesting… but not as interesting as another reporter in my group. She had red hair and freckles and was wearing a green dress. Her name was Allyson.

As the tour continued I casually sidled up alongside her. I don’t remember the first thing I said to her, but it was almost certainly a sarcastic remark of some kind, intended to be intelligent and charming. Whatever it was, I guess it worked.

When the tour was over, the Mormons invited the reporters to stay for a light lunch. I had a longstanding policy of refusing such offers, fearing even the slightest hint of impropriety (a fear, incidentally, that sportswriters don’t have). But Allyson was staying, so I made an exception on this occasion. We sat at a small table with one of the guides. As I recall, we had cucumber sandwiches on white bread with the crust cut off.

After lunch we walked out to the parking lot together. A moment of truth was rapidly approaching. How it came about exactly, I don’t recall, but we ended up exchanging business cards (how romantic). She drove off in her Toyota Tercel. It’s the car in which I would finally learn how to drive a stick shift. I noticed that she had very good posture: I’d never seen anybody sit up so straight while driving a car!

A little more than 18 months later we were married. We may be the only Gentile couple in the world to have met inside a Mormon temple.

Thank you, Lester, for letting me go to the Mormon temple that day.

Thank you, Allyson, for being there that day – and every day since.


Carol said...

A lovely recounting of an encounter that literally changed you life. Literally. And I mean that in the best and most correct sense! Happy 10 year anniversary to you both, xxc

Lester said...

I'm so glad two such great people were able to find each other, despite the editorial shortcomings of Matthew's news director.



Gov said...

10 Years?! I am struck by two inescapable truths:

1) What a perfectly-suited match yours proved to be.

2) Man, am I OLD.

(I'm so glad you two found each other. I wish you all kinds of crazy longterm happiness.)

PS: Hi, Lester.