It has been my privilege recently to be a regular contributor to Desert Saints Magazine, a publication directed towards the LDS crowd in southern Nevada and southern Utah. (It is, of course, not an “official” publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as evidenced by the fact that it contains ads for local businesses and also by its publishing articles wherein unsavory celebrities like Sharon Stone and Tara Reid are casually and almost flippantly mentioned. And yes, I take full responsibility for that, since I am referring to articles written by myself.)
Below is my article now featured in the February issue of Desert Saints Magazine. The issue is focused on brides and stuffs of a lovey-dovey nature. I call this story…
Never, in all my youth, could I conjure up the image of the moment I would purchase an engagement ring. In my mind, the buying of the ring was The Final Step. And The Final Step to The Final Commitment would be intimidating to most, would it not? (I submit that it would.)
Turns out, if you’re getting engaged to Katie Fillmore, the purchasing of the ring is not The Final Step. The Final Step is telling her dad that you want to marry his daughter. Oh, the humanity!
It was the end of Winter Semester at BYU when I knew Katie was The One. I knew it so confidently, I was actually quite calm when I met with the jeweler and described the ring I wanted. Like, my voice only cracked twice. All that was left now was meeting my future in-laws.
Serendipitously, Katie’s family was coming out to Provo, Utah for the graduation ceremonies of Katie’s two older sisters. They would be visiting for a week. Perfect. This would be ample time for me to explain my plans to Katie’s dad, have him pull a gun on me, yell some obscenities in my face, slap me around a bit, and then surrender to the fact it was going to happen regardless. Sensing that our relationships was heading in this direction, but being demure about it, Katie told me that while her family was visiting, her dad might want to take a walk with me.
“Any time a boy has shown interest in one of his daughters, my dad has taken them for a walk,” Katie explained.
“Do these boys ever come back from the walk?” I asked. “Like, intact, with the original bone structure of their face and everything?”
I then proceeded to hear stories about The Walk. Men who stopped dating Fillmore girls because of The Walk. Men who wept openly because of The Walk. Men who had to join the Witness Relocation Program. Because. Of. The. Walk.
And I was destined for The Walk.
Well, the Fillmore Family arrived on the scene that next week. They were staying at a beautiful cabin in Sundance, up Provo Canyon. And I? I had been invited one evening to come up for dinner and to stay the night. Oh, sure; like I’m dim witted enough to just carelessly walk right into the Lion’s Den. A cabin in the woods? THE WOODS?! I’ve seen enough movies to know that 35 to 38% of people who just normally go into the woods don’t come back alive, much less somebody who is going to tell the father of the woman he loves that he wants to marry his daughter. I’m no fool!
“I’m going to the woods!” I told my roommates. “If I’m not back in time to watch Seinfeld tomorrow night, I want you to remember this name: Bruce Fillmore. He’s the one that buried me somewhere in Provo Canyon.”
It was a splendid evening. Dinner was delicious, Katie’s siblings all adorable and comical, and Katie, perfectly secure and confident in our future. As I prepared for bed that evening, Bruce walked by. “Do we need to go on a walk?” he asked. Ah, nuts. “I suppose we better,” I answered. “We’re agreed – no weapons?” He didn’t answer me.
I spent the better part of that night writing down the kind of questions I anticipated a father asking his potential son-in-law. “How long was your longest kiss with my daughter?” “Have you ever seen a movie starring Sharon Stone?” “Do you own any CDs by any artist with the words “Beastie’ or ‘Boys’ in their name?” I practiced answering all of these.
“So, what are your intentions?” was his actual first question, as we started The Walk.
“To marry your daughter.”
And then he embarked on a series of questions that opened my eyes to what this was all about. It wasn’t about me at all. It never was. It was about a father’s sincere and unconcealed love and concern for his daughter’s happiness. It was about a father who had known his daughter her whole life and loved her from her first breath. A father who had taught his daughter her divine identity, carefully corrected her when she made mistakes, comforted her when other people’s mistakes hurt her, prayed over her, sacrificed for her. And a daughter who admired her father and expected I would live up to standards he had helped instill in her.
“What do you see as her strengths? What do you see as her weaknesses? What do you bring to the relationship? What are your strengths? What about her education? What about money?”
I answered every one of these questions from my heart and soul. Defensive feelings quickly faded and I found myself wanting to assure my future father-in-law that I would apply all the goodness I had in me to never disappoint Katie. I also pointed out I owned no Beastie Boys CDs and had no idea who Sharon Stone was, but he seemed disinterested in that part of the conversation.
“Has she ever cooked for you?”
“Yes. Once. Enchiladas.” (They weren’t really for me, but I saw her roommates eat them, and I felt the need to defend my future wife.)
“You know…she has a hard time waking up in the morning.”
Ah-HA! Trick question. For had I known that she had a difficult time getting up in the morning, that would indicate that I had been around her waking up in the morning. And I don’t care who you are, that’s grounds for serious pain.
“No, I didn’t know that. Are there any other concerns you have but aren’t expressing?”
“Nope. And I suppose if I did you would get married anyway.”
“Yes. But it would sure be nice to know you were excited for us.”
“I am excited for you. I think you guys will have a great time.”
And then he hit me in the face. I’m not even kidding. I should have seen that coming. Katie insisted later it was only for comic effect. But it still hurt.
But for the young men out there who will one day be taking The Walk with me: be forewarned. Sharon Stone and Beastie Boys may not be relevant, but among all those important questions I learned from my time around the block, I will be asking your feelings on Tara Reid and Insane Clown Posse. And you should be careful how you answer. The Walk could end very, very badly for you.
Other articles I have written for Desert Saints (and yes, there is an LDS slant in these articles):
A Christmas Story of Forgiveness
Gratitude for My Family
Blessings of the Temple
Following Priesthood Counsel