Open to Interpretation

8 07 2010

Please be gentle with me. This post was difficult for me to write.

You remember I’m Mormon, right?

Before I dive into this post, my non-Mormon readers need a crash course on the Word of Wisdom. I’m sure you’ve all heard of it in vague terms (“You don’t drink coffee?!”), but a bit more in-depth knowledge is required before my rant will make any sense.

So. Here’s the basic list from mormon.org:

“In addition to emphasizing the benefits of proper eating and physical and spiritual health, God has spoken against the use of:

  • Tobacco.
  • Alcohol.
  • Coffee and tea.
  • Harmful, habit-forming drugs.”

Stick with me, here. Yes, I’ve tried everything on that list. I’ve even enjoyed the hell out of some of it. Obviously I’m not bringing this up so I can try to convince y’all of the error of your ways. I just need you aware of the principle, and now that you are, I can move onto the real reason for this post.

As my faithful readers know, I went to Las Vegas to attend a community pharmacy conference. All our meals were included, and dinner the first night featured an open bar. Sometimes it’s like God is messing with me. “Hey, you down there, I know you have issues with substances and all, and you’re trying to be good, but hey–check out that free liquor!” [Please don’t send me a message about how God really isn’t saying that and it’s totally Satan unless you want to be mocked.]

Anyway, I’m at this conference with free booze 10 feet away from me and…I didn’t drink. I know, right? I’m pretty frickin’ awesome. But it wasn’t just my supreme willpower and desire to do good that kept me from drinking (Did you giggle a little just then? I bet you did!)–it was my fear of judgement. I was at the conference with my boss and two coworkers, all of whom are also Mormon. I knew if I broke down and had a drink, there would be gossip and censuring looks and all sorts of irritating things that make me want to drink even more.

The next day our free lunch came with iced tea. Fortunately, I wasn’t at all tempted. Iced tea is wrong. Argue with me all you want, but I know the truth. Iced tea is icky. I went off to find water, and when I came back, my coworker was sprinkling sugar in her iced tea.

I think I did a double take. It was the very last thing I expected to see. Like, ever. And because I can never keep my mouth shut (That’s endearing, right? RIGHT?!), here’s the conversation that followed:

Me: “So…I’m just curious. How is drinking iced tea any different from if I’d had alcohol last night?”
Her: “Well, tea doesn’t have the same effect as alcohol.”
Me: “I must’ve missed that part in the Word of Wisdom where it talks about how something affects you.”
Her: “It’s my only vice.” [I don’t think she meant that like it sounds. I believe she meant her only vice pertaining to the Word of Wisdom.]

It went on for a bit, but you get the idea.

In light of this new information, I’ve come up with a handy sliding scale for Word of Wisdom offenses:

Level One
You drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis. Shame on you!

Level Two
You drink coffee or tea. You’re on a slippery slide, my friend.

Level Three
You smoke cigarettes and/or drink alcohol. You’re totally screwed. You will now die of lung cancer and/or cirrhosis.

Level Four
Crack whore.

There, now. Doesn’t that clear things up nicely?

I’ve spent some time trying to figure out why I’m so bitter about this whole encounter, and all I can come up with is that I felt like I’d been judged and found lacking by someone who has problems with the exact same commandment.

What makes me angriest is the knowledge that I’ve done the same thing. I made snide comments about the addicts who came into our pharmacy and then I went home and popped a handful of Lortab. I shook my head in dismay at the people doing sobriety tests at the side of the road, but then deemed myself perfectly capable of driving home after a night of drinking.

One of my biggest pet peeves is hypocrisy, yet I’m one of the worst hypocrites I know.

I’ve become my own pet peeve. Weird. Also, uncomfortable. Someone hurry and do something really annoying so I can focus on something else, okay?

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9 responses

13 07 2010
Sue

I’m a Level One – I’d have to jump over level two because I don’t like coffee or tea. Blech. Matter of fact my kids and I were just talking about Mountain Dew before I left the house this morning. My son (5) asked me why they call it Mountain Dew and I replied because Hill Dew didn’t sound that impressive. Or perhaps, as I thought about it later, it would be a more impressively concoction made by replacing the caffeine with a more mellowing ingredient.

10 07 2010
Elisa

My name is Elisa and I am a Diet Coke whore.

Hear me roar.

10 07 2010
Mimi

It’s because we’re in Utah. BOO.

9 07 2010
Alex

No, it’s God with the free liquor. Satan, on the other hand, is the one that invented bar tabs and credit cards with 20% interest rates.

9 07 2010
La Yen

I just like that I have so far to go before I reach Level Four.

8 07 2010
Linda

Yes the church is full of hypocrites. We can’t let it make us crazy. Now I’m going to go drink my Dr Pepper.

8 07 2010
Janice

It’s always puzzling to me when people deem certain acts acceptable or unacceptable. I mean, really, isn’t the law the law regardless of the act? I have never understood this notion that “WE” get to decide what “HE” meant. Or that we get to decide it’s our judgement that even matters in the end anyway.

8 07 2010
Tenille

Gulp, I think I can relate. I can remember the idiot in seminary who thought I shouldn’t pray because I smoked. I said he shouldn’t pray because he was passed out drunk at a party on Saturday night. 🙂

8 07 2010
Kristina P.

I completely understand what you are saying. I would be extremely angry too. And yet, I drink probably 80 oz. of Diet Coke a day. So, I’m not really any better.

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