Thursday, June 23, 2011

you mustn't squeeze the melon 'til you get the melon home

Okay. Here's the thing.

The Manti pageant is kind of stupid.

Lemme 'splain for all you peeps who aren't One of Us (yet--wait 'til you die, ha!). The Manti pageant (also known as The Mormon Miracle Pageant) is a play put on every summer by the good people of Manti, a smallish town in central Utah. It's a huge event that for two weeks swallows the city whole with tourists camping at the park, Manti's "Famous" BBQ Turkey Dinner (the quotes are theirs, which I find refreshingly honest) being served for minimal cost, quite polite protesters holding posters stating things like "Joseph Lied" and "Abortion is Murder" (not sure why with that second one--maybe they have not met our church's official position on abortion?), and general county fair-like gaiety. I have not attended before this year, but it is evidently a Big Deal. I went with our church young women's group.

The "famous" dinner is instant potatoes, canned/powdered gravy, canned green beans, rolls with margarine, heavily marinated Sanpete turkey, and box mix cake. I will now proceed with my snobby, graceless assessment.
1. potatoes: fake-tasting, could not finish them
2. gravy: fake-tasting, could not finish
3. green beans: wretched, inedible, with much non-bean plant matter mixed in
4. rolls: dry and bland, could not finish
5. margarine: fake-tasting, the worst I've ever had, did not eat
6. turkey: I have been acclimated to it by a former Sanpete resident and I thought it was nice and salty, ate it all
7. cake: fake-tasting and so sweet I think I have a cavity, choked it down

I felt bad for tossing the food, but it was too gross to eat. I'll be darned if I'm going to put up with all the bad press for being a wasteful American and not get the benefit of throwing away a plate of filling but unlikeable food.

I'm not sure what the overarching theme of the pageant is. It goes through Joseph Smith finding the golden plates and translating them, then flashes back to the civilizations chronicled in the Book of Mormon, then back to the days of the early Mormon pioneers. It's hard to figure out what they want you to take away from it. I think they want you to know that we believe that the soul, or spirit, or whatever you may call it, lives on after death, and that family relationships can also perpetuate after death. But they don't really talk about that until the last couple of minutes of the show, and the rest of the time they're just sort of telling stories that are boring to church members and probably confusing to non-members. It's about an hour too long, disjointed and scattered and in serious need of an outline, a stated purpose, a clear path from point A to point B, and a ruthless editor.

I did cry during the part where they depict a woman dying on the trek across the plains, and after she's buried her little daughter runs back and throws herself across the grave. I am a sucker for bereavement. Were I unlucky enough to have been in that situation I would have prayed every night to freeze to death so I wouldn't have to wake up the next day and have my hair chopped out of the ice with an axe, or try to dig a shallow grave in the frozen ground in which to lay the body of my most recently deceased child--a grave so shallow that the wolves would be in it as soon as my back was turned. But my path is not to be one of the early pioneers, thank goodness. Which makes me wonder what kind of crappy stuff I'm going to have to do to make it fair. It better not be organ harvesting.

We also visited Cove Fort, which I am not going to explain for you. It's interesting, and really hot. I hate central and southern Utah. But one of the sister missionaries commented that it was the boys' responsibility to gather and clean out all the chamber pots in the rooms, and that she would rather have done that than milk the cows, which was the girls' job. WHAT? I would never make that choice. What kind of person would rather handle human feces than udders? I've done both, and I'll take the udder every time.

On the drive down the girls in my car were prank calling some of the other leaders and playing fart sounds (with the Atomic Fart app--the more things change the more they stay the same, don't they?) into the phone, and calling boys they knew and asking questions like "do you like snow or dirt better?" Was this poor leadership on my part? Probably not.

You may think that the foul food, the ookiness of the production, the uncomfortable heat, and the prolonged sitting in the car would mean that I had a bad time. That is not the case. I had fun. But I'm not going back to Sanpete anytime soon, unless it's to dock sheep.


tipsybaker said...

I tried to teach my husband to milk a goat last night, and he was almost unable to bring himself to touch the udder.

kacy faulconer said...

Like so much in the church, it sounds not fun but worth it.

Amy said...

Thanks for your honesty. I went to that pageant when I was a kid and thought it was long, crowded and didn't make sense. But, for the past ten or so years, I've been thinking I should see it as an adult. You know, maybe take my kids. Now, I think, maybe not.