Saturday, August 30, 2008

Welcome to Utah

I feel that the most appropriate place for me to begin my blogging will be with an insight into what I'm sure will come to be one of the staples of this blog. The Utah Mormon Culture.

I find that I am on an almost daily basis amazed, entertained, and annoyed by various attitudes and traditions that our isolated little culture has inspired. The example I will focus on today deals with returned missionaries. It is no surprise to anyone that missionaries tend to return to where they came from profoundly affected by the area where they served. They adopt elements of the culture, dress, and attitudes of the area they served. I served a mission in Norway and because of that love techno music and euro mullets. Had I not lived in Norway there is no way I would like those things (well I might still like techno, it is amazing). However, sometimes this is taken to extremes. Ridiculous extremes.

Let us examine this idea deeper. I will start with an experience from Church several weeks ago. School has just started so I'm now in a new singles ward. With this comes introductions, the tentative feeling out, looking for just that right clique to ally yourself with. Also the obnoxious kids take the opportunity to secure their positions in the pecking order via extreme social posturing, also known as showing off. Well let me explain how these introductions go. It is pretty much a standard procedure. First you say your name, then where you are from, then what your major is, and finally where you went on your mission. I can't even begin to say how many times I've had to repeat those four facts these last few weeks. Well, where you went on your mission says a lot. Each mission has its own culture and stereotypes associated with it. So what I noticed is the way everyone pronounced their mission name. Those who served in the USA managed to say it without adding anything extra. The same for those who went to Europe. Ahh, but not those who served in South America. They pronounced their mission roughly like so: BBBBuueenossss HHaaiirrrrrrressss, Hhaaarrgentina. They somehow manage to roll about 86 r's even in words that don't have r's. If it weren't so annoying it would be impressive. To be fair it is impressive that they have managed to learn a foreign language and master it. However, I would submit that just because you can say a place name with a thick accent doesn't necessarily mean that you are some kind of prodigy linguist. I have also noticed that it is only missionaries who serve in South America who are guilty of this crime against decency. I myself am quite capable of saying the name of my mission in Norwegian, should I do so it would go from Ahslo, Norway, which is how it is pronounced in English, to Oshlo, Norge. There is a considerable difference there and I submit that most people wouldn't even understand what I said. Wouldn't that be impressive? Yet amazingly, I, along with pretty much everyone other RM from Europe, can say the name of my mission in English.

I wish I could say that is where it ends but unfortunately it is not. These same RM's also seem to be incapable of ordering, talking about Mexican food without making a mockery of themselves. I will give a recent example, I went with one of my friends to a Mexican restaurant where he ordered a BbuRRRRiittto. The Mexican lady working there gave him a weird look and asked if he wanted a burrito. He said yes and then to cover his embarrassment explained how he as a pale white boy spoke better Spanish than this Mexican lady because he served a mission in Peru where they speak real Spanish unlike those Mexicans who apparently butcher their native language. I have my own opinion of butchery, but you can just guess what that might be. This is another example that seems to be exclusive to South American Missionaries. I have another good friend who served a mission in Alabama and he sure doesn't start talking like a gansta' from da' hood any time he mentions fried chicken. Another example, I have a friend who served in Australia and I will personally guarantee that he has never asked someone to "throw another shrimp on the barbie."

On that note I will conclude by thanking all of those returned missionaries who have retained their dignity and are still capable of communicating in intelligible English even when everyone would be so impressed if they were to grace us with their hard earned and authentic native accents at the drop of a hat.