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News » Deep End

The Cool Factor

Anything Pope Francis can do, Utahns can do better


  • Jon Kilborn

My colleagues in the Ministry of Truth down at Temple Square were having a collective fit at the latest breaking news out of the Vatican. Every time the Latter-day Saints get some good publicity (such as the recent boffo performance of Elder Dieter Uchtdorf of the First Presidency on Dancing With the Stars), the Catholics come along and trump us with yet another feel-good story about the wildly popular new pontiff, Pope Francis I.

By now, everyone has heard about how the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as the pope was known back in the ’60s when he was a Jesuit priest, earned some extra cash as a bouncer at the hip Buenos Aires night club El Toro Malo. Patrons called him either “The Enforcer” or “The Confessor,” depending on whether he was maintaining order or giving absolution. (Father Jorge was said to be tough on enforcement, easy on absolution.)

As far as world popularity goes, the pontiff beats our prophet across the board. He leaves him in the dust, as it were. As soon as the news broke about the pope’s gig as a nightclub bouncer, me and the lads in the Ministry of Truth immediately used all the resources of our vast communications system—tweets, news bulletins, ward newsletters—to let the world know of President Monson’s own regular-Joe past life as a rum runner during Prohibition.

Only KSL and the Deseret News, alas, ran the story. KSL opened the 6 o’clock show with President Monson reminiscing about the good old days eluding Eliot Ness, and the D-News splashed a photo on the front page of a raffish young Tom Monson, his fedora at a jaunty angle, posing on the running board of his souped-up Duesenberg roadster.

“The Mob trusted me,” President Monson told KSL’s Carole Mikita, “because they knew I wouldn’t be sneaking a wee nip from the goods.”

President Monson is not the only local luminary with real-world experience on the résumé, and taken as a whole, the jobs once held by our present-day luminaries are far more impressive than anything the Catholics can put together, including the pope’s stint as a bouncer once upon a time in Buenos Aires.

Everyone is familiar with the many talents of our senior senator, the Honorable Uncle Orrin Hatch—singer, songwriter, stand-up comic. What the vast majority of his constituents do not know is that before he made it big as a tummler on the Borscht Belt (sample one-liner: “There was a girl knocking on my hotel room door all night. Finally, I let her out.”), Uncle Orrin apprenticed as a pharmacist’s assistant, where it was said that no one could count pills faster than Hatch.

Among the General Authorities, the variety of youthful employment is impressive. Elder Boyd Packer, for instance, sold ladies’ shoes after his mission, occasionally counseling customers to seek out a decent pedicure. Sister Sheri Dew worked as a flight attendant back in the days when they were called stewardesses, and you can be damned sure fliers buckled their seatbelts and returned their seat backs to the upright position when Ms. Dew instructed them to do so. Elder Dieter Uchtdorf crossed paths with Sister Dew when he sat in the cockpit, but before a career as a pilot he had dreams of Broadway stardom.

His first big role was the lovable Kurt Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. But his voice broke, and he had to leave his dream behind.

Our secular leaders likewise found gainful and various employment in their youth. After a spectacular career kicking footballs for the BYU Cougars, Rep. Jason Chaffetz had a short-lived position as a foot model for Nu Skin International. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart developed interpersonal skills as a hair stylist at Great Clips, where she was famous for giving a good shampoo.

Sen. Mike Lee earned extra cash as a kid by dressing up as a clown for children’s birthday parties, but refused to cut the cake if the birthday boy or girl didn’t blow out all the candles. Candidate for Congress Mia Love worked her way through school as a manicurist, but was rumored to be rather sloppy when doing the nails on the customer’s left hand.

Former Senator, erstwhile CIA operative and Book of Mormon scholar Bob Bennett may have had the most interesting early job of all—he was the advance man and personal trainer for Marilyn Monroe. Top that, Pope Francis.

D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.