By way of explanation, Beehive clothing is the name of the store where Mormons buy their temple clothing (outside of Utah, they are generally attached to LDS temples). They also believe that marriage within one of their temples is "for all eternity" and not "until death do up part." This short vignette, which can be performed as a reader's theatre or play, is based on experiences within one of those stores while shopping for a "spouse" (known as an eternal companion). You should also note that Mormons refer to each other as brother and sister.
I wrote the following based on a comment from a friend in a chat room; she asked the title as a question: "What if Beehive Clothing sold eternal companions?" It was originally a short joke written in five or ten minutes. At her request, I expanded it to its current size and posted it on an LDS message board. With one exception, a man who found it too long and boring, the reception was pretty good. I guess that I now do requests!
What if you were able to purchase an eternal companion at Beehive Clothing, and did not have to go through all of the pains of courtship and dating? What if you could choose the kind of mate you wanted, just as you choose your style of temple clothes? If marriage partners were fitted like temple dresses or came in different lengths and widths like slippers, I imagine that an afternoon at your local temple's clothing store might go something like this:
"I am going to lunch now. Can you cover the phones and the front counter by yourself for the next thirty minutes?"
"No problem, I'll see you back about 12:30."
"Hello, Beehive Clothing, this is Sister Young, how may I help you?"
"Hi, I understand that you now stock eternal companions at the local Beehive Clothing Stores and I need to get a new one."
"A new one? So this will not be your first purchase?"
"No, ma'am. I've had to do this before. I have, however, got all my paperwork completed with Salt Lake and have my authorization for another sealing."
"That's wonderful, Brother, most people don't take the time to do that before they come to us."
"Thanks, my bishop and stake president were a big help. I haven't had much time myself, with the kids and all."
"Can I have your name before we go on?"
"It is Brother Carter, Thomas Carter."
"Good, Brother Carter. Now what size are you going to need?"
"I wear a 34 waist and need an extra large."
"No, I'm sorry, I mean the size for the intended."
"Oh, I'd prefer about 5'4" and 120 to 130 pounds, but I'm not set on any particular size."
"Do you prefer a newer, straight from the factory model or, like yourself, do you want something that has been road tested."
"In my situation, I think that the experienced model is probably going to give me the best fit."
"I see, and will that be with or without the accessories?"
"Accessories? What do you mean? That sounds like buying a car!"
"Well, everyone has certain options that they prefer. Let me list a few for you:
The experienced Molly Mormon pattern can sew, cook, quilt, and drive the kids to soccer practice. She comes automatically with two boys and two girls, with the option of up to six more. She also comes equipped with a golden retriever, a complete collection of Afterglow CDs, and a mini van. She does have a teaching certificate for Kindergarten, but prefers staying at home and doing cross stitch. Her bumpers are available in a variety of widths and can be used for balancing children, closing kitchen drawers while her arms are full, and keeping a loving arm about the husband's waist.
The experienced Sweet Spirit pattern can do all of the above, but comes with only two children and with an option for only two more. She drives an old Pacer, and prefers music of the last decade. Her cooking skills are more along the lines of anything that fits in a frying pan and multiple flavors of jello salad. Her dog is Heinz 57, her cat roams the neighborhood, and the pipes in her sink leak. This pattern generally needs a little body work, but is better with the right kind of man."
"Can I design my own accessories?"
"No, we're sorry, but we do just sell the standard models. You can choose different styles of these models, but you cannot design her from the ground up."
"Well, what other patterns do you have?"
"We do have a few Single Cecilias in stock. They have no children, a full time job, drive a new sports car, and have a rather jaded outlook on life. While they do marry in the temple, they are not guaranteed a return trip.
A few really popular styles are the Pretty Peggy Primary President, the YW Wanda, and the Early Morning Seminary Ellen. I can also get an Activities Committee Annie, a Relief Society Susie, and a Stake Calling Connie."
"You mean I can choose my companion based on her calling?"
"Salt Lake has discovered that certain women have the temperament for some callings and not others based on personality. We try to stock all of the auxiliaries. Some outdoorsy men enjoy the Camp Director Katie or the Volleyball Coach Vickie. We are, I should add, no longer stocking the Inactive Inga or the Agnostic Abbie. We only provide companions for an eternal marriage, and those do not meet the criteria at the present time.
These calling models are available in both the newer and in the experienced models. For example, we call the newer one the Potential Pretty Peggy Primary President "
"Do you have any styles that come in a convertible?"
"Do you mean that you want to browse our models with the top down?"
"Hey, I like to know what I am in for and what they have to offer."
"Brother! You do not get to try out the merchandise before purchase! If you are looking to buy that kind of wife, I suggest that you go to J.C. Penney, Walmart, or Dillards (depending on your budget)! We offer only eternal quality and do not base our designs on sleek, sporty, or fully loaded!"
"Hold on sister, I was just joking."
"I'm sorry, but it is hard to see the humor about an eternal companion."
"What colors do they come in?"
"Each Beehive Clothing stocks the shades most often used in their area and a few of the other, less needed colors. We can, however, bring in any color you want."
"Okay, let me come in on my lunch hour and we can look at the pictures. With my situation, I probably need to get a Molly, but would like to see the different styles of Molly that you have."
"You can see me or go through the distribution center directly. You can also see a few pictures on the internet if you log on to the distribution center's website."
"Thanks for your help. I think I'll be there in about half an hour. I'll swing thru a drive thru somewhere first and grab a burger. Goodbye."
"Have a good lunch. See you in a few. Goodbye."
Tinkle of bell and sound of door opening
"Good morning, sisters, what can we do for you here at Beehive Clothing today?"
"Hi, my younger sister here needs to get an eternal companion, but is a little nervous and shy about it."
"There is no reason to be shy! What are you looking for?"
"She really wants..."
"She can answer for herself. Honestly, some of the women in the church spend too much time playing matchmaker! It is her eternal happiness that is at stake here, let her choose for herself. The days of arranged marriages are over."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to but in. After she is finished, I do need to shop for myself"
"That's okay, just remember that we must all choose for ourselves."
"Can you tell me about some of the styles you have available?"
"Are you looking for a newer model that has never been road tested or a used model with a little mileage?"
"I've never been married before and want him to be the same way."
"Okay, do you have a size preference for him?"
"About 6'2", 185 pounds, dark hair, dark eyes, and a good smile."
"Okay, let me tell you what I have available:
Our most popular model is the Peter Priesthood. He has shiny teeth, is an R.M., drives a mid-size car, and has graduated from seminary. The economy model is still in college and enjoys macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles. The full priced model has a degree and is already in the work force. Both models have never been married and are a little shy around women. Most of the married women that choose this model the second time around have one major complaint.
'What is that?"
"Well, he is rather inexperienced and unimaginative in the more intimate areas and always falls back to his previous training."
"Yep, missionary position every time, or at least until he gets some practice and training."
"Oh, what else do you have?"
"Some girls prefer the Eddie Eyeballs. He drives a foreign car, is generally mobile in his career, has an ear ring and a tattoo, is only semi-active, and his commitment level seems to waver. Salt Lake is thinking of discontinuing this style as most of the women seem to be back again after a few years and a few pounds.
"Do you have anything a little more normal?"
"Well, we do have the Norman Mormon model. You can get him in the Priesthood Leadership, Young Men's/Scouting, or Stake Missionary style. He is hard working, went on a mission, attends church, loves chocolate chip cookies, enthusiastic about his family, spends every Saturday morning helping someone move, and reads bedtime stories."
"Any drawbacks to this model?"
"Well, the hair recedes, the eyes weaken, and the stomach widens with age and experience, but the warmth, kindness, and love grow proportionately."
"What are the differences in the three styles of this model?"
"The Priesthood Leadership model leaves for church early every Sunday morning and sits on the stand away from the family, the Young Men's/Scouting model drives a pick-up and has a garage full of tents and sleeping bags, and the Stake Missionary model comes with 30 church videos and a tv/vcr combo that he takes out with him two evenings a week."
"I think I like the Young Men model. I always wanted my kids to be Eagle Scouts. The Priesthood Leader looks really good, too. My children will need someone to look up to. I also can't leave our someone who loves missionary work, because I want all of my sons and daughters to go on missions. Let me think about it for a few minutes."
"All are very good choices. How about your older sister now?"
"Well, I kind of need one of the used models."
"Let me tell you what we have available:
Our most dependable model is the Tired Tom. He is a custodial father and knows how to balance work, kids, a calling, and all of the other problems that a single mother also encounters. He does have several advantages. He knows how to do all of the housework because he has been doing it all himself. He also owns the required mini van and has a stable job. One drawback is, that while his own clothing is a little ragged and un-ironed, his kids are always clean and look nice. This model is generally thrilled with a good catch, and does not slow down, even after he gets some help. He, of course, comes complete with furniture and all of the other household goods.
There is also the Lonesome Larry. He only has his kids a few weekends a month, every other holiday, and six weeks during the summer. He will not move away from being close to them, so is not available in all areas. He does, however, love children and will go out of his way to see to their happiness.
We also have the Raised-em Ryan. His children are already grown and he is a little bit older. He already owns his house and his car, is set in his ways, and doesn't really want kids around except for the occasional grandchild visit. We generally do not recommend this model to women under 40, women with small children, or women who want more children.
Incredibly enough, some once married women go for the Nerdy Ned. He is available at any age over 35. He has never been married, never had a serious romance, can't dance, teaches gospel doctrine, still lives with his parents, and can be kept under the thumb. He is, however, totally devoted to any women who will pay him any attention. He has the potential for greatness if a women refuses to dominate him and can bring him out of his shyness."
"The nerdy one sounds like too much work; besides, my kids would walk all over him. The guy who already raised his kids would not be good for mine. My ex is now a Lonesome Larry, so I need someone a little different. I think I'll have to go with a Tired Tom. Can I get him about age 33 with brown hair and a light blue mini-van?"
"I'm sorry, but I don't have that color combination is stock right now. But I can have on overnighted to you by tomorrow."
"You mean to my house?"
"Oh no, we only ship to the temple of your choice."
"I was hoping he could come and mow my yard , but if I have to wait..."
"Why don't I get you two sisters to take these forms, sit down over at that table, and start giving me your information and dates. I see a young man approaching and I need to assist him."
Tinkle of bell and sound of door opening
"Good afternoon, young man, what can I do for you today?"
"Well, I just got back off my mission last week and I need to find a wife. My mission president said that if I didn't do so quickly, I would be a menace to society."
"Well, I'm sure that we can help. Do you want someone Laurel age that you can be engaged to for a while, someone who is currently writing to another missionary, someone in her first year of college, or do you have something else in mind?"
"Hey, I don't want some guy to get "Dear Johned because of me!" That happened to me and it wasn't fun. I also don't want some young girl that is giggly, keeps stuffed animals, has to go to the bathroom in groups, and I have to wait for to grow up, so the Laurel is out."
"Young man, you do not know anything about young women. They will always be giggly, like stuffed animals, and go to the bathroom in groups."
"Oh, can I get one that isn't, ...I mean doesn't?"
"Only if you want one in a coma. So what are you looking for?"
"I want someone who is young, beautiful, has a friendly smile, and will stand beside me throughout all of my trials in life. I want someone who will smile at me in the morning when our alarm goes off. I want someone who will raise our kids in the church, attend their PTA meetings with me, and take them to soccer practice. I want someone who will be proud of being on my arm, who will hold hands with me as we walk down the mall, and who will make my favorite dinner on my birthday. I want to sit at the kitchen table and eat chocolate chip cookies with her after the kids go to bed, and discuss our problems of the day. I want someone who, if I am called to the bishopric, I can look down and see in the chapel with my children alongside of her. I really didn't come here to get some standard patten or style, I am looking for my the woman who will complete me, as I help make her better and stronger."
The two women get up from their chairs, bring up their paperwork, and prepare to turn it in. The younger one looks shyly at the R.M. as he is speaking.
"Young man, what can you offer this kind of a woman? You can't expect perfection without giving something in return."
"I promise that I will love her. I promise that I will always be there for her. I promise to take care of her and the kids when she is sick, to not go out all of the time with my buddies, to buy her roses or candy for no reason, and to always keep a current temple recommend. I promise to never give her any reason to doubt me or my fidelity. I promise to make her my queen."
"Young man, what is your name?"
"Elder Taylor, ...oops, ...no, ...now I guess it is just Norman Taylor."
Sister Thomas looks for a moment at the paperwork of the two young ladies.
"Brother Taylor, this pretty young lady is also here looking for a companion. Her name is Peggy. Why don't you to go out and sit and talk by the fountain for a few minutes while I take care of her sister Molly's order for a Tired Tom? You can each help the other one decide what it is they are really looking for today."
Norman and Peggy look at each other and smile. They go out the door, to the sound of the tinkling bell. Sister Young looks down at the papers that Peggy filled out and places them in the trash can.
"I won't be needing this paperwork any more."
"Sister, why are you throwing away my sister Peggy's forms? Don't you think she's worthy? She does have a new temple recommend and is being endowed tomorrow."
"Because she now has her Norman Mormon and he has his Potential Pretty Peggy Primary President. They seem to be perfect for each other. Look outside, they are already holding hands and looking at the temple!"
"So what about my companion? I want my tired Tom!"
"Well, we can order one from Salt Lake City and hope that the shipping department gets everything right, or you can wait about fifteen minutes for a really nice Brother Thomas Carter who is coming in to look at styles and patterns on his lunch hour."
"So if my sister and I can both find possible eternal companions without ordering them from Beehive Clothing, why are we here?"
"Would you have found an eternal companion if it wasn't for Beehive Clothing? I think not! Sometimes, we still like to do a few things the old fashioned way. If you'd like, you can step outside and watch for a mini van to pull into the parking lot. Who knows, you might even offer him and his kids dinner if he mows your yard this evening."
The tinkling of a bell is heard again as the older sister walks out and the employee returns from her lunch hour.
"Hi, Jamie. Anything exciting happen while I was gone? Or was it just typical stuff?"
"Welcome back, Marge. Nothing much new today. I just matched up two couples and didn't even have to deplete our inventory!"