Yes, I am a Mormon. Yes, I live in Utah. But no, I do not have more than one wife.
It just seems that way.
The Mormon church quit practicing polygamy a long time ago. (1890, to be exact.) That's over 120 years ago. And yet, when some people hear the word "Mormon," they feel compelled to say, "So, how many wives you got?" (And then they stand there with a smug look on their face like they just uttered the funniest sentence in the history of the human race.) (They didn't.) (I'm not sure what the funniest sentence uttered in the history of the human race is, but I'm pretty sure it involves the word "poop.") (Or maybe "horticulture.")
As Mormons, we try to educate the world that we are normal-ish, one-wife-loving people. The 2002 Winter Olympics were a great opportunity to get that message out. There are occasionally profiles about the church on television shows like 60 Minutes, or magazines like Time or Newsweek. Or sometimes we'll trot out Steve Young as our example of Mormonhood. (Isn't it sad that we're still using Steve Young for this? He retired over 12 years ago, after the 1999 season. Shouldn't we have had another talented, handsome BYU quarterback to hold up as an example by now? John Beck and Max Hall, you've really dropped the ball!) (Often literally.)
But, every time we make some progress along those lines, Hollywood comes along and puts out a show like Big Love or Sister Wives. (Yes, I'm blaming Hollywood for all of our problems.) (That last parenthetical notation was sarcasm, by the way.) (Hollywood is really responsible for only 64% of our problems.)
I've never seen any episodes of Big Love because I am too cheap to pay for HBO, Showtime, or whatever station used to air that show. And, despite what my DVR might tell you, I haven't seen more than three minutes of Sister Wives. My wife, her mother, and her sisters all like to watch that show. If I walk into the room and it is on, I'll find myself something more entertaining to do, like maybe the dishes.
They say they like Sister Wives for the "train wreck" aspect of it. Me, if I want to see a train wreck, I'll watch an actual train wreck. Or a Minnesota Vikings playoff game.
Personally, I can't fathom being married to more than one woman. It took me forever to find one woman crazy enough to marry me, let alone several. And yet, sometimes it seems like I have several wives.
A couple of weeks ago I took my family to the zoo. It ended up looking like a trip with a polygamist clan. Besides me, there was my wife and two kids; my wife's sister and her two kids (her husband is in the army and is currently deployed); my wife's sister's friend and two of her kids (separated from her husband); my wife's mother (her husband at work); and my wife's mother's friend (her husband at work.)
So, for those of you counting at home, that's one man, five women, and six kids. My very own "Sister Wives" troop! (And, for those of you wondering about the generation gap, because of the "scandalous" age difference between my wife and I, I'm actually slightly closer in age to her mother than to my wife, so the whole thing is somewhat feasible.)
I find myself in these "Sister Wife" situations frequently. Partly because of my work schedule. (I work two day shifts and two evening shifts per week, giving me either five days or five evenings a week to go out with my troop.) And partly because my wife's family is so female-centric. (She is one of three sisters, with no brothers. The only man in the family, her father, works a standard five-day work week, and is often busy on the weekends doing volunteer communications work for local search and rescue.)
The funny thing is, the zoo trip didn't include probably my most frequent "Sister Wife," my wife's other sister, the single one who lives in our basement apartment. Other occasional members of my clan include my wife's aunt, when she visits from New York; my sister, when she visits from Idaho; and my adult niece when she visits from Washington.
Do I like being surrounded by attractive, intelligent women? Of course I do! Would I want to be married to them all? Oh heck no!!! One wife is a-plenty for me!
Because there are so many women in my life, I often find myself in very feminine-istic situations. The other day I went with some of them to a place where we painted ceramics. Yes, I was painting ceramics. Even tonight my wife and one of her sisters are upstairs playing Barbies with their daughters. I had to take Buzz and escape downstairs to finish this column and maintain a little hint of my masculinity.
My "Sister Wives" are great and all, but there are times when I wish I had some more "Bro Dudes" to hang out with to watch some games and belch and fart with. Who knows, maybe the Vikings will make the playoffs this year so me and my "Bro Dudes" could watch a train wreck of our very own.