About a week ago, Dave's and my coworker Gabriella invited all of the naturalists to her family's house for the weekend. It sounded like a delightful idea.
During the planning of this event, Gabriella approached Dave with a sinister idea. She says to him, "Yo Dave, it'd be really funny if you showed up at my parents' house dressed as a Mormon and tried to talk to them about Mormon stuff."
Dave agreed, and after I agreed to assist him, we dressed up like this:
Having done this, it was now time to talk the world by storm. A Mormony storm.
On the way to Gabriella's house we started to get our story straight. Dave and I imagined new lives for ourselves, from attending BYU to plotting out how we would approach the house without being seen.
We were ready.
But, soon there was a hiccup in our plan. We sent a text to Gobby to ask her when she and the people in her car would arrive at her parents' house. We realized that we were on track to get to her parents' house twenty minutes before she would. And despite our intention to make everyone around us uncomfortable, we decided to wait for Gobby to show up for our own sake. So, we decided to do what all Mormon missionaries do on their down-time. Get coffee.
So Dave and I camped out at Starbucks in our LDS uniforms and watched people's reactions to us. It was then that Dave and I began to realize just how much people assume about someone by the way that they dress. Even though it was our intention to channel a stereotype in our clothing, it was still surprising to see the looks that we received from others. Everyone around us thought they knew everything about us just by looking at us.
Soon it was time to make our move on Gobby's parents. I was nervous as we walked up to the door and we rang the doorbell. Our goal was to get invited to dinner as Mormons. We knew it would be difficult.
On the second ring Gabriella's mom came to the door. This was how the conversation went:
Dave: Hey, how's it going? Do you have a few minutes to talk?
Gobby's Mom: Actually, we were just sitting down for dinner, sorry.
Dave: Well... so do you have a few minutes?
Gobby's Mom: No, but we believe in Jesus, we believe that he died and rose again and is in heaven now, and we're going to heaven when we die.
Me: Oh, okay, well...
Gobby's Mom: Have a good night!
And that was the end of the conversation. Less than thirty seconds, from beginning to end. Dave and I were cracking up on the way back to the car. We realized that we hadn't even said anything about God, religion, the Book of Mormon, or anything. We just wore ties and tennis shoes and showed up.
We wanted to change our clothes so we pulled into the next street over. On one side of the street there was a fence that would allow us to change our clothes without being right in front of someone's house, so we parked there and got into our normal clothes. We noticed a guy on a bike across the street watching us.
We drove back to Gobby's house and opened our doors to get out of the car. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the guy on the bike shows up and says, "What the f--- are you guys doing?"
We were taken aback by this a little.
"Um, we were just pranking our friends down the street here."
Dave continued, "Why do you ask?"
"You guys were just being really suspicious outside my house."
A reasonable conclusion.
"Nope, we were just playing a prank on our friend."
Then he rode off on his bike. Dave and I shrugged our shoulders, locked the car, and went back to Gobby's front door.
Dave and I were standing in the exact same place that we were when we came dressed as Mormons. We rang the doorbell, and Gobby's mom came to the door again.
She invited us in without even mentioning that we had just shown up as Mormons less than five minutes previously. I thought this was odd.
A few of the naturalists were already sitting down at the table. One of them said, "We thought you'd show up all dressed up."
That's when Dave and I realized not only that Gobby's mom hadn't told them that Mormons had shown up at the door, but she didn't recognize us as those Mormons. At all. We all laughed, Dave and I especially.
It was a pretty funny night, and I learned a lot about people. I decided that in the future I will be a lot nicer to people who show up at my door. It's a difficult thing to just show up and talk to a total stranger about God on their own turf, even as a joke. And, people aren't always what they appear. And furthermore, judging someone by the way they dress without taking note of the person underneath is a surefire way to moderately embarrass yourself. Appearances can be deceiving.