The Boys in Suits

February 9, 2012

Participating in MamaKat’s Writing Workshop again this week! One of the prompts was: Who is at your front door?  For more awesome writing and fun, hop on over to MamaKat!


“Dammit,” I say to my stepson, as I turn the Collins glass around for the bazillionth time. “I can’t get the angle right. Why can’t I photograph cocktails?”

“Want me to try?” he says.

“Go for it. You can’t suck any harder than I’m doing. Maybe it’s the light? I don’t know.”

He takes the camera, crouches down, and studies.

The doorbell rings.

I look at the clock: 2:30 on an incendiary August day.

“Colin must be doing another lemonade stand thing,” I say. I turn and yell, “Girls! Get the door! It’s Colin! I’m busy.”

The girls thunder down, all tan limbs and bare feet and throw the door open.


Then, “Um, Mom?”

Awesome Stepkid R. shoots me an evil grin. “It’s that creepy meat man again.”

“Ugh! That guy needs to bugger off.” I roll my eyes and walk reluctantly to the door, where the girls still stand, staring.

Two very young, very earnest, very uncomfortable-looking boys, clad in ill-fitting suits, stand outside, squinting in the summer sun. I look down. They have books and pamphlets in their hands.

Awww, Jesus. Mormons.

The girls study them curiously. “Why are you dressed so fancy?” Miss M. blurts out, and I cut her a stink eye.

The boys smile, though, and the dark-haired one laughs. “Well, seriously, we wouldn’t be dressed like this if we didn’t have to, especially on a day like today. It’s just sort of part of the job.”

I do not have time for this shit.

They’re sort of cute, though, in their terrible suits, and it’s rotten outside, and even my cold black heart softens at the sight of them.

“Look, I’m going to be honest with you,” I say, hand on my hip. “I’m an agnostic and my husband’s an athiest and you’re not gonna get anywhere with us, and I’m not listening to any spiels, but you are welcome to come in for some lemonade, if you’d like.”

The blond one looks uncertain, but the dark-haired boy smiles and laughs again. “Some lemonade would be awesome. Thank you.”

They immediately remove their shoes at the doorway as they enter, loosening their ties a little.  The girls follow in their wake, sensing something good.

“I’m Peter, by the way,” dark-hair says. “And this is Justin.”  I shake their sweaty hands.


“And who might you be?” Peter asks the girls, crouching down to eye level.

Oh, this kid is good.

As the boys enter the kitchen, they spy ASR, camera in hand, circling the Collins glass, trying to find an angle. As they sit down on the stools at the counter, they eye him with open curiosity.

“Mommy makes food and stuff and then writes about it,” Miss M says. “She takes pictures too and sometimes it takes forever.”

I laugh and fill two tall glasses with ice and lemonade, sheepish. “Blogger.”

“That’s a cool job–a writer,” Peter says, taking a long draw from his glass. “Oh, gosh, this is great. Thanks for letting us in. We were dying out there.”

I top off their glasses. “How long have you been out there?”

“Like today, or how long have we been on Mission?” Peter says.

I shrug. “Both, I guess.”

“Well, Mission-wise, I’m almost done,” Peter grins. “This is my last month.” He bumps Blondie on the shoulder. “Now Justin here is just starting his; I’m kinda showing him around this week.”

“Are you glad to be almost done?” I ask.

Peter nods. “Yeah. I mean, it’s been good, it’s been a good experience, but I’m looking forward to being done. You miss people.”

Justin bites his lip and looks me in the eye for the first time. “I’m really sorry to ask you this,” he says, “but would it be possible to use your restroom? We’ve been out since morning.”

“Oh, jeez, sure, of course,” I say, somehow feeling guilty for not knowing. I point down the hall and say, “Second door on the right.”

“Thank you.”

Peter studies the mess of construction paper, markers and string on the countertop. “Art project?” he asks the girls.

“Yeah, we’re making masks!” D. says enthusiastically. “I’m making a parrot one and M. is making a rabbit but she’s mad because she can’t get the ears right.”  She cocks her head, gives him a lopsided grin. “Wanna help?”

“D.!” I say, mortified. “I’m sure these guys need to get back…” but as I speak, Peter picks up a pair of scissors and reaches for construction paper.

“Sure,” he says, as Justin exits the bathroom. “To be honest, it gets pretty boring out there. We’re grateful for the break.”

M. sidles up to Justin. “Can you make good ears?”

“You know, it’s been a while, but I am great at ears,” he says, sitting back down at the counter. “What kind do you need?”

Awesome Stepkid R. puts the camera down. “Hey Dana, I think I got your shot.”

“Thanks,” I say, and he vacates, fast as a fox.

I realize I’m in for a bit of a visit. The boys are cutting and there’s glue involved and the girls hover intently.

There’s a half-consumed pan of key lime bars on the sideboard, so I cut the rest of them, put them on a plate, and settle in for the duration.

They’re sweet with the girls, measuring string and asking them what they like to do in the summer, and I quickly dispose of the liquid in the Collins glass.

“What was that in there?” Justin asks, as I rinse it out.

I give a hard bark of laughter, unable to help myself. “Something you definitely cannot have.”

Luckily, they laugh, too. “You have a  nice family,” Justin says.

“I used to teach high school English, in a different part of the state,” I say, filling the sink with dish soap. “There was a large Mormon population there. I always really enjoyed the kids–great manners, really hard workers. I always wondered about the Mission thing, though. It seemed so cruel to me, making these kids leave their families, go from house to house, trying to talk to strangers. I just thought that had to be so hard.”

“You don’t sell stuff, do you?” Miss M. asks. “Mommy isn’t nice to people who come around selling stuff.”

The boys crack up. “No, we don’t have to sell stuff. But sometimes people still aren’t very nice.”

Peter takes a second key lime bar, looks at me. “Sometimes it gets pretty weird. People let us in, and then yell at us, or say stuff like, ‘We feel so sorry for you, being brainwashed by that cult.'”

Justin secures the ears to Miss M.’s mask. “What do you think?”

She puts the mask on, runs to the bathroom mirror. “Good!” she says. “We did good.”

Peter looks at the clock and sighs. “It’s probably time to go back out there. Thanks for the lemonade. And the cookies.”

They bid the girls goodbye, and M. hops up and down. “Come back and do crafts with us soon, okay?”

Shoes back on, pamphlets back in hand, Peter slaps Justin on the shoulder. “Onward.”

**endnote: At the end of the month, Peter returned to our door, finished with his Mission. He just wanted to tell the girls goodbye, and good luck.

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber February 9, 2012 at 9:16 am

Wow, this story mirrors my husband’s experience and what my brother is currently doing!! Ha! It’s so funny to hear it from an outsider (i.e. not a Mormon). :)


Mary Lee February 9, 2012 at 9:18 am

You can write until you’re blue in the face about what a hardass you are and I’ll never believe you again.

The Minxes are enchanting and absolutely delightful–food preferences excepted, of course.

You could make a McDonald’s drive-thru excursion a great read.


elizabeth February 9, 2012 at 9:33 am

This story makes me want to see The Book of Mormon even more than I wanted to before:

How am I not surprised that the Minxes charmed them into craft time? They could charm a candle to sit next to a roaring fire.


Abby February 9, 2012 at 9:37 am

I agree with Mary Lee, but will encourage you to keep writing about what a hardass you are–or even McDonald’s–because you have an amazing gift, my friend. Write on.


lexy February 9, 2012 at 9:58 am

great story – so nice of you to let them in to take a break from the sun. I didn’t realise that mormon kids were so young when they started the whole door-to-door thing. We don’t get any religion-related visitors coming to our door.


Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts February 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

Agnostic or otherwise, you’re good people, Dana.


Arnebya February 9, 2012 at 10:30 am

Oh, how sweet of him to come back by. That day meant something to him, your treatment of him. It pays, you know, to simply be aware and tolerant and dammit, just lemonade giving to others. We usually only get Jehovah’s Witnesses visit. We may not want their pamphlets, and their faith is not our own, but they are people just like Peter and Justin, and we’ve offered them drinks when it’s been blazing summer. (And, admittedly, I’ve read some of the papers they’ve left; it’s started a good conversation or five).


Barbara February 9, 2012 at 10:56 am

This made me think of my mother…who I saw slam the door in the faces of Jehovahs. So unkind and intolerant. She was a strong Catholic. Who knows? Back in those days maybe there were told to do that….or perhaps she’d had a really bad day. (I’m trying hard to excuse her, here) Good lesson, Kitch.


TKW February 9, 2012 at 11:30 am


I could totally use some of your mother’s attitude when the creepy meat man comes by. :)


Jenna February 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

Yeah, I’m totally with Mary Lee. Your whole ‘hard ass’ thing–it’s just a disguise that you need because you’re such a softy on the inside!


Stacia February 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Dammit, Kitch. Now, next time the Mormons come by, I’m gonna have to invite them in. And have lime bars on the sideboard. (I think the second one will be harder.)


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon February 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors and that’s why I love you.

Ok, dreadful Cyndi Lauper lyrics aside….you treated these boys with dignity and respect despite the fact that you weren’t interested in their message. Which I think makes their visit with you a success and sets a great example for your kids.

No, they didn’t convince you that your personal salvation can be claimed by pledging your allegiance to LDS (as opposed to LSD, but that would be a whole different story). But you treated another person with kindness and humanity…and I don’t care what god you pray to, I call that grace.


TKW February 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm


I think what helped was the frank admission that they weren’t going to get anywhere. But lemonade and a bathroom break, I can handle. Plus, the girls thought they were fascinating.


Pamela February 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm

You amaze me with your ability to rber these details and then duplicate them. I felt like I was right there I’m your kitchen. So beautiful!


TKW February 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm


I think I remember it because it was just so weird, you know? I’m in the middle of photographing a cocktail and the Mormons come calling. Awkward!


Jennifer February 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm

You big softie. That was so sweet. But it was also very kind of them to actually hear what you said at the door and to not try to push you once they came inside. Awesomeness all the way around.


Kristen @ Motherese February 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Lady, you set the [key lime] bar high. We live in the Bible Belt and have lots of visits from missionaries – Mormon and otherwise. When I see them at the door, I usually just hide in back of the house and threaten the kids to keep quiet. (Non-confrontational, thy name is Kristen!) xo


TKW February 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm


If I hadn’t thought it was Colin and his lemonade stand, I’d have been hiding in the laundry room. I do not engage. xo


bryan February 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

What a great way you have of telling a story. I so enjoy the way you let us in on little bits of your life.


Erica@PLRH February 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Oh, that is so sweet and so totally awesome.


Liz @ PeaceLoveGuac February 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm

What a great story! I love that they came back to say goodbye.


idiosyncratic eye February 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm

What a lovely story, I think you may have taught your whole family (and maybe a wider audience of readers) that engaging with people from different walks of life and viewpoints can be a rewarding experience for all involved. Whoever we are, whatever we do or believe, we still need water, food and bathroom breaks. We’re all humans! ;)


SuziCate February 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I love this story…next time I hope I have as soft a heart as you did! That is so sweet that he came back later to say goodbye to the girls. Whenever I see boys that are so good with kids I always think of what good dads they’ll make someday.


Cheryl @ Mommypants February 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm

It’s a sweet story, and a good lesson for all of you.

I don’t think I would’ve shared my key lime bars, though…


Mr. TKW February 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm

What Kitch did not mention is that those young men came by other times before their mission was up and our house became like a rest stop on their obligatory spiritual journey. She does have a big bleeding heart sometimes.


TKW February 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Argh! Quit ratting me out!


Heather February 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm

As always, you are amazing. What a story. And how wonderful are you for letting them in on a toasty summer day. Your daughters will surely grow up to be amazing women.


Jane February 9, 2012 at 9:08 pm

I’m always, always drawn into your stories and I just lose myself. I love how you handled the situation, too. I’m one of those who pull the cult card, politely, of course.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes February 10, 2012 at 5:22 am

You are a good person. But I knew that already.
And I didn’t know that Mormons had to do missions too, here we only get the occasional Jehova’s witness, those who can sneak past the church and the convent undetected. My village is so catholic that I’m surprised they don’t organize an annual witch burning on Samhaim.


Phoo-d February 10, 2012 at 6:34 am

You and the girls could charm anyone into taking their shoes off and letting their hair down for a bit! I’m sure it was a welcome relief from ringing door bells in the blazing hot sun while wearing a tie (ugh!). And yes, cocktails are a bitch to photograph.


Tiffany February 10, 2012 at 9:54 am

I always get excited for one of your stories. This one definitely didn’t disappoint. I’m so glad you let them in and they were so kind. THey needed a break!!!

And this line: I’m an agnostic and my husband’s an athiest and you’re not gonna get anywhere with us,

is why we are friends! :)


Katybeth February 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I just knew it! You are such a softy. I bet those kids came around more than once….You made a difference and they will remember you for it..always. And your kids got much more than bunny ears out deal too.


Txtingmrdarcy February 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I think it’s far too easy sometimes to see the “boys in suits” as an inconvenience or a hassle- something to distract from running around, watching tv, doing housework… You took a moment and saw them as boys. In Suits. Who needed a little bit of comfort and a break.

I’m starting to think there’s very little “witchy” about you. ;)


TKW February 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm


Ah, I’ve gotcha fooled! ;)


Lana February 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm

For three years we lived in an apartment complex with a Mormon church next door. We knew “the boys” by names, and they were polite and sweet, even though we told them the first time that we were atheists (they still talked to my husband for hours, while I pretty much did what you did, providing them with sustenance in harsh California weather:)
It takes a lot to make me act “mean”. And believing in different things is not enough, especially if combined with good manners and sweet smiles.
I just love your stories, period:)


TKW February 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm


It’s hard to resist a sweet-mannered boy, isn’t it?


Privilege of Parenting February 10, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Lovely and wise… your compassion brought to mind Leonard Cohen:

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on.
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
Oh I hope you run into them, you who’ve been travelling so long.


TKW February 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm


How do you remember these wise sayings? Amazing.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri February 11, 2012 at 11:41 am

You can tell such a good story. And this shows the kindness in your heart.


Dawn February 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm

You are a good woman. And those were good kids, as are yours. Loved the story!


Ink February 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm

“Mommy isn’t nice to people who come around selling stuff.” LMAO!


faemom February 12, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I’ve missed you! You’re such an awesome writer!
And I always wanted missionaries to come to my door. All I ever had was two missionaries who use to walk me home from class two days a week during my Freshman Spring semester of college.


Rocky Mountain Woman February 13, 2012 at 10:57 am

I live in UT, but I’m not Mormon (something to do with wine and well thinking organized religion is kind of a…), but I typically do invite the missionaries in. They are just cute kids trying to do what is expected of them. My neighbors who are Mormon are about the nicest people I’ve ever lived around so I would feel pretty rude not inviting their kids in. I’ll bet you made their day!


TKW February 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

They are just so cute and wide-eyed and smart and lovely, aren’t they?


Paula February 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm

You don’t have a hard-hearted bone in your body! Loved the last sentence.

But what made me laugh out loud was the statement about how long you spend taking pictures. I try to set a time limit when I start but somehow I sways manage to spend twice as long as I meant to. Frustrating!


Velva February 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm

As always, loved it.
We come across more than we expect too, sometimes.



denise February 14, 2012 at 10:48 am

I love it when you do dialogue. I was there, leaning back on one of your kitchen chairs, observing the whole interesting exchange. All while craving a key lime bar.


Kristen February 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Hello there lovely Ms. H. ;)
I loved this story. You are so wonderful. Do you remember the lunch date we had in your classroom? You made me lunch and gave a a very kind note, with your phone number inside. I couldn’t believe that a teacher would give me her personal phone number! That’s when I knew you were special! You left a lasting impression that I will never forget.
Recently someone said something to me about HS English teachers. They went on and on with, “Ugh, wasn’t yours awful?” and such. I just smiled and responded, “Nope, I loved mine, she was incredible!”
On a side note, Mormons aren’t required to serve a mission. It’s a choice. My husband and my father did not, but my brother did. If you do choose to go, you pay your own way. It’s a big commitment for 2 years, filled with lots of sacrifice, learning and growth. Thanks for being good to them. Clearly, you made an impression!


TKW February 16, 2012 at 5:34 pm


I love you, and always will. Your were one of the brightest lights in the roon.


TKW February 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Umm, “room”–Miss M. just hit her “unfunny” bone and hollered.


TKW February 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Anyways…(after the meltdown), I always loved your spirit and your verve and your very, very swift mind. So smart, so insightful. One of the best, for reals.


Francie February 26, 2012 at 7:50 am

You are a delight. In an effort to be rid of door-knocking proselitizers-(it says I mispelled this-I have tried many variations-I am an English teacher and I know when to give up and call it good) I always quickly brush them off. (Perhaps I fear that by the time they leave, I will be house hunting in Salt Lake City-I never have been good at saying “NO.”) But this little encounter is absolutely the better approach-and grist for the writing mill.


Francie February 26, 2012 at 7:53 am

Crap I also misspelled Mispelled in the above response. Good lord, I suck as a speller.


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