By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Now Monty was whispering into my ear the final token of the ceremony. "Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and in the sinews," he intoned. "Power in the priesthood be upon me and upon my posterity for generations of time and throughout eternity." Then he commended me for passing the test: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter you into the joy of the Lord."
We joined hands in one of the secret grips, and he pulled me through the slits in the veil.
We were in the Celestial Room, named after the upper-most tier of the complex Mormon heaven, and the most notoriously decorative room of the temple. Vast and hushed, crowded with fussy furnishings and lit with chandeliers, it was populated with dozens of bent heads above fig-leaf aprons. Most of the prayerful were seated in deep chairs along the walls but a few were kneeling, away from the foot traffic emanating from the veil. I could have gladly dropped to my knees myself, but the quest for peace of mind was postponed as my family and Monty's family, all of whom had apparently passed through the veil ahead of me, crowded around to sweep me into a series of congratulatory embraces. The temple ceremony was completed, and Monty and I were well on our way to becoming man and wife.
Later, dressed for the world again, my first pair of daily "garments" already sticky with sweat beneath my suffocating street dress, I tried to tell Monty a little of what I was feeling as in that awful ovenish weather we walked across lawns that seemed to go on for miles between the temple and the car. "It wasn't what I thought it would be," I said. "I expected to hear things that would make me feel inside the way I feel when I'm singing the hymns I love the best. You know, when it all comes together in your heart and you know that what you're involved in is the right thing?"
"And you didn't?" he asked, without much understanding. His arm came around me and pulled me against him. His face was changed by his passion for the things we had just gone through together. "Boy, when I brought you through the veil, that was something."
@body:On the final day of my wedding, when I would actually become Monty's wife, the first thing on my mind as I awoke was my eccentric sleeping arrangement.
I was entangled in a situation born of my desire to get married in the Arizona temple. Since my family didn't live in Arizona anymore, my parents had rented a two-bedroom furnished apartment in Scottsdale that summer and, upon our arrival from Utah a couple of nights before, had installed me and my betrothed in the room with two single beds. "I guess I can trust that nothing will go on in here?" my father had asked sternly, looking hard at first me and then Monty.
He spoke as though Monty and I found each other wildly compelling, a not unreasonable assumption. I reassured my father with cheery confidence, however. I knew I wouldn't encounter in that room a temptation I couldn't resist unless somebody interesting came in through the window.
In keeping with the theme of avoidance that had characterized my engagement, though, I didn't consider until that last morning the ramifications that pallid attraction would hold for my marriage. I waited until I was watching Monty's stocky outline lying beneath a sheet six feet from mine to admit that, although he didn't repulse me, whatever lay between us was too thin to occupy us for long, in bed or otherwise. Even this close to the embargo lifting, I felt no urge to slip in naked beside him as a surprise.
And even if I had wanted to, I wouldn't have known exactly what to do next. My parents had harkened so well to the church's promotion of innocence that the entirety of my direct knowledge of sex had been obtained through a series on sexual disease that had run in the local paper when I was a teenager and an odd presentation that had been presided over a couple of weeks earlier by my gynecologist. Unfortunately, the doctor's attempt at sex education hadn't sunk in very deeply, on account of my embarrassment.
It wasn't that the information itself had embarrassed me; it was the setting. This particular Provo doctor must have been in great demand for the premarital services that BYU kids required, since he had hit upon the idea of group orientation as a way to increase efficiency. On a second visit that Monty and I undertook so that more things could be explained to us, when I had expected to have the pleasures of marriage described to me privately, we had found ourselves instead herded into a meeting room where perhaps fifteen couples sat on rickety folding chairs exchanging equally rickety smiles and nervously holding hands.
"Is anybody here not a Mormon?" the Mormon doctor had asked loudly from the front of the room. "I give a slightly different lecture in that case."
But no, we were all Mormons. In fact, I knew quite a few of the kids in the room because they attended my ward. I did not know them well enough, however, to desire to share with them the slide show of brightly colored genitalia that followed. "Since you're Mormon kids, you probably don't have any experience," the doctor had said matter-of-factly while the projector beeped and various views of vulva and testicles loomed on the wall. "I recommend that as soon as you're married, the first thing you do is turn each other upside down to see what you've got. Get acquainted."