I’ve been passed this meme like a bad case of the clap. I’m seriously logorrheic, and I have a good sense of the line between information that ought to remain public and ought to remain private, but I get too much of a kick sharing “too much information,” as they say. So I have nothing that will be surprising to all my acquaintances. Here’s the best I can do.
(1) I was a “historic interpreter” at the Joseph Smith Historic site in Nauvoo, IL, and the Kirtland Temple Historic Center in Kirtland, OH, and gave tours to thousands upon thousands of Mormon pilgrims. Was I raised Mormon? Depends on what you mean by “Mormon”! I grew up in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the anti-polygamist Mormon sect that stayed in the Midwest while Brigham Young and Co. trekked west, and which then “reorganized” when the son of the slain prophet, Joseph Smith III, was old enough to take on the mantle of leadership. The RLDS church turned out to be something like the Episcopalians of Mormonism (my mother was in the first cohort of women in the priesthood in the mid-Eighties), and recently changed its name to The Community of Christ. I never wore funny underwear, never had a Temple recommend, never was baptized as a proxy for a dead person, never believed in Kolob, and paid tithing on ten percent of my increase (what you’ve got left after necessary expenses), not my income. That said, I did grow up believing that the people depicted in Apocalypto were Jews who came over the ocean in hollow wooden boats with a plug in the top, lit by glowing stones, and that Christ would return to the town of my birth, Independence, MO. I filled up a lot of quarter cards with my paper route money to help build the temple.
(2) At Lenihan Junior High in Marshalltown, Iowa I spent a year on the exhibition jump rope team, the Skippers. I used to be able to do push-ups inside the double dutch, was able to do a few “triples” (pass the rope under three times in one jump), and can probably still do more “doubles” than you, despite my relative corpulence and bad knees.
(3) I was a bit of a Max Fischer in High School, where, despite being a decidely mediocre student, was senior Student Senate president (based on my campaign speech promising a non-lame homecoming theme and dolphin-safe tuna in the cafeteria–both abject failures), Thespian Club president (and winner of the hotly contested Jean Seberg–Mary Beth Hurt drama award), and French Club co-president (despite having almost zero fluency in French — Joyeux Noel!), and a leading National Forensics League point winner, and other stuff I forget. Who had time for homework?! I was also awarded the Left Foot Award (an old left sneaker) for being the worst dancer in South Side Transit, the MHS swing choir. The highlight of my theatrical career was playing Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at the Marshalltown Community Theater in the summer of 1991. I remember being pretty awesome. Really, it’s been all downhill since high school for me. Actually, it’s all been downhill since I was twelve. I was amazing at twelve. And very, very short.
(4) I went by “Bill” until college. I pretentiously tried to switch to the full “William,” but my high school friends in my dorm called me “Wilk” and everybody assumed that it was “Will.” So my comically repetitive name is not really my fault.
(5) I received an “F” the first semester of my freshman year in the University of Northern Iowa Varsity Men’s Glee Club, due to missing rehearsals. I had been in a head-on car collision (my fault!), breaking my collarbone, sending my bottom teeth through my face under my lip, and cracking several ribs. Bob Byrnes, the former Glee Club conductor and UNI carilloneur, was the most sternly drill-sergeant-like yet also sentimentally Liberace-esque dude I ever met. He would yell gruffly at how bad we sucked, and then cry when we really nailed the stirring “Climb Every Mountain” climax to the Sound of Music Medley. He did not take missing rehearsals lightly. (And I just see that he died in 2004. RIP, Bob.)
Enough of my ridiculous midwestern wholesomeness. Merry Christmas everybody!