Lia Filomena Pizzeria Something-or-Other, in happier moments.
Isn't she cute?
My friend, Lia, was a mess in Relief Society today. Seriously. A complete disaster. I know that as she's reading this she's sticking pins in her DeNae doll and cursing me in Italian, but I speak the truth. She couldn't so much as raise her hand without bursting into tears, and a comment that may well have begun as an insightful and well-conceived idea came out as more of a soggy squeak.
"It's like, when you need help from your dad, and you know he'll rescuuuueek-squee-squeek-sniff-amen."
Poor thing. "Alvin and the Chipmunks Discuss the Plan of Salvation".
I take part of the blame. I got her going in Sunday School. We were talking about Joseph F. Smith's revelation regarding the Spirit World, and how sweet it was that of all the prophets who might have received that gift, it was given to the one who had lost his own father while a child of just four years old. And of course, he saw his father Hyrum Smith in that beautiful vision.
Great scott, she was bawling, I was bawling -- we were quite a pair. Although, for what it's worth, there were plenty of others backing us up on the 'waa-waa' pedal, including men. It was a remarkable performance from everyone involved. We're thinking of taking our show on the road.
Now, Lia has an excuse: She's hormonally insane, a condition more commonly known as "pregnant". That certainly wasn't the problem with the guys, and I can't claim that as my reason for the water works. Although there is nothing that would make me wail like a banshee faster or with more enthusiasm than a change in that particular status.
Anyway, as I was giggling on the other side of the room watching Lia reach for her twelve-thousandth Kleenex, I thought to myself, "She's having a fully successful Relief Society experience."
That's what my son David once called it. When the families make their way to the RS room after their classes dismiss, it's not hard to gauge exactly what kind of hour the women have had together. Those weeks when we emerge with puffy eyes and red noses and that "smilin' through the tears" look of tenderness plastered on our faces are the weeks my kid declares 'a hit'.
It wasn't always so. For a long time, our kids would show up after church, take one look around the Relief Society room, and start bawling themselves. They weren't sure what had happened, but clearly it was devastating.
"Did someone die?"
"Did someone hurt your feelings?"
"Was there a fight?"
"Not this week, sweetie. Maybe at Homemaking."
"Then why (sniff, sniff) are you all (gulp, gulp) crying?"
It wasn't until they hit their conveniently cynical teens that they finally believed that there was nothing wrong with their mothers. We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
Could you imagine this among the men? Could you just see the High Priests draped over one another's shoulders, sobbing into their lapels and blessing each other's hearts?
Deacons? Teachers? Priests? Pffft. Don't make me laugh.
Well, now, that's a fish of a different kettle. Since they are YOUNG women, and therefore better not have the pregnancy excuse going for them, we can only call what goes on in their classes a 'dress rehearsal'. Sniffling and snuffling in the hall after class, their teachers surround them like hens and through their own sloppy tears assure them that 'it was the Spirit' that got to them.
(Someone probably showed that awful seminary movie "Cypher in the Snow", leaving the girls with no choice but to throw themselves from the first bridge they come to.)
And there is nothing more entertaining than watching the Young Men try to figure out why all the girls their age apparently lost their minds during the last hour of church. Everything had seemed fine in their combined Sunday School classes. The girls had played right along as the teacher set up the "Jeopardy" game on the board because he had, for the 52nd consecutive week, forgotten he had a calling.
But evidently, while the boys were practicing "The 200 Positions of Gumby, the Ninja Sloucher," in their Aaronic priesthood meeting, the girls had been sharing their feelings on the subject of reactivating their friends by sticking construction paper hearts all over their lockers, and it all just got to be too much.
You just want to scoop up those boys and say, "Get used to that dazed expression you're sporting. You've got sixty years of wearing it ahead of you."
Lia kept assuring me that she's not a crier. And yet her husband caught her weeping over a feminine hygiene commercial the other night. She brushed it off, telling him she's always been moved by quality advertising.
The bad news, girls, is that once the flood gates are opened, there is no closing them again. I don't even pretend not to cry during movies and television shows. If I thought I could get away with it, I'd just throw back my head and howl like a lunatic whenever the show gets a little emotional. "Mom, are you crying?" is now met with, "Yes, and you're all grounded for asking."
I just hope that Lia can embrace this new version of her. She's had one child already, so it isn't like she wasn't prepared for the whole "bawling because it's Thursday" deal.
And if nothing else, she now knows that if she ever needs someone to commiserate with, she can drop by the church.
We ladies will be there waiting for her, noses running and makeup smeared, having the time of our lives.