I had been getting a lot of late-night calls recently from my former missionary companion, who has been pulling out all the stops in his efforts to persuade John McCain (who tells close associates that he regards Mitt as a world-class dweeb) to put him on the ticket as his vice presidential running mate. My advice to Mitt has been to spend some time with his family and concentrate on his new hobby, clogging, and forget about politics for a while.
In my opinion, becoming McCain’s running mate is a fool’s errand—Senator Hothead is going to be trounced by Obama, and the stink of defeat will rub off on my former missionary companion, and the odor will linger into the next election cycle. Better to smell clean and fresh when 2012 rolls around. But Mitt is nothing if not determined, and his desperate quest to become McCain’s second banana has taken over his life.
When I was finally able to make contact with Mitt, he was in a terrible state, and he launched into a incoherent rant about disastrous photographs, compromising calendars and the horrors of the French sling.
I interrupted him, and adopting the tone of President Elbert Dehahn, our mission president in Paris, France, who was always able to talk Mitt down when he was treed by one of his frequent fits of anxiety, I said, “Hold on now, Elder Romney, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Let’s take things one thing at a time.”
Mitt took a deep, prolonged breath. “OK, OK. Did you read about that guy who got excommunicated for making that calendar with all those shirtless missionaries?”
“Yeah, good thing, too. We can’t have missionaries taking their shirts off. No telling where it might lead.”
“Don’t you remember? Our promotional calendar?”
It always amazed me how Mitt seemed to have total recall of our missionary years.
“That cute little photographer, Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle—what was her name, Mademoiselle—“
“Monique. Mademoiselle Monique.”
“Ah, oui. That’s the gal. She wanted to pluck your eyebrows.” In those days Mitt sported an impressive monobrow.
“The point is, what if that calendar surfaces? My five sons are already jetting their way to Paris to track down old copies.”
It was all coming back to me now, in a nostalgic rush of memories. Mitt was willing to go to any length to recruit converts, and the calendar was a huge success. All those French teenyboppers lining up along the Champs-Élysées to get our autographs. Mitt even agreed to have his chest waxed, though he drew the line on plucking his eyebrows.
“But what’s the problem? It wasn’t just beefcake stuff. As I remember, it was a theme calendar, scenes from the Book of Mormon and that kind of stuff. How could they excommunicate us for being so filled with the spirit of the Gospel? We drew straws to see who got to pose in the loincloth as Samuel the Lamanite, and you—”
“Don’t remind me,” Mitt said, his voice growing hysterical. “I’m not worried about being excommunicated. It’s John I’m worried about. I’ll never be vice president if he sees me in a loincloth. I got all kinds of grief from him about those ads I did when I was running for governor—“
“Flexing your pecs on the beach.”
“Don’t remind me, I never should have volunteered to take my shirt off.”
“Well, at least we didn’t let Monique talk us in to posing with Gudrun and Ursula, those German girls we met at the spa in Munich. They were spilling out of those breast plates Monique came up with.”
“Actually, I could probably talk my way out of those photos if they surface.” There was a long pause. “I never told you, but after you went out for a package of Gauloises that afternoon, I posed for a couple of more photos for Monique.”
“In a loincloth?”
“She called it a French sling, though it looked like a jockstrap to me.”
Mitt finally calmed down when I reminded him that Monique knew him as Willard, not Mitt, and that there was no way to connect him to the photos. When he hung up, his heart was glad and still full of vice presidential hopes.