Subject: First installment of "Johanna Frump - Exmo Realtor"....
Date: Apr 29 02:35
Author: johanna
Mail Address:

How Much Are Those Garmies in the Window?

I knew I would be walking on eggshells with these two. They were in town for their daughter's graduation...That's right from BYU. Couldn't go out Friday to look at the property because they were being herded from one activity to the other. I said I'd meet them Saturday morning.

What to wear. Always an issue for an exmo with a hankering for sleeveless in a microcosmic world of modesty. Is the cloth thick enough to hide the fact that I'm not wearing a celestial smile? Apparently too thick this time.

I chose jeans, a sleeveless jersey shirt and a plaid overshirt. It was raining cats and dogs when I cleaned out the car and headed for one of the many rabbit hutches here in Orem...young married condo housing that is. They met me in the parking lot. Nice couple. Middle aged in modest clothes, big smiles and big handshakes. This is the kind of couple I really could have schmoozed in my Mormon days, easy to talk to. In fact, if there was an Guiness entry for talking the longest without saying anything of real consequence, she'd have her name in bold type for sure.

It started out simple. "Are you from here?" she asked me. Step one. Establish that the realtor lady is from Utah. After all, isn't Utah County about 90% Mormon. Pretty good odds.

I answered: "Yes, went to Provo High. Lived here all my life" Whew. The misus is sure that she's got one, a nice Mormon lady to talk to about everything BUT real estate. But, just in case...the next question. "How many kids do you have?" Years of Mormonism have fine tuned my senses to know when someone is asking to be polite or to see if you've filled the measure of your creation. If I say "two" she'll look for my garment lines & ask more probing questions to see if I'm one of those liberal Mormons that just have enough kids not to feel guilty in Relief Society but are really selfish to the bone afterall.

I answer: "5" I guess I've passed the test. No woman who has lived in Utah all her life AND had five kids could be anything but a card-carrying, garment-wearing, covenant-making Daughter of God.

Now the mindless questions and information come at a rapid fire pace. "How are the schools out here?... In my school in California I try to teach morals subversively because you can get in real trouble if you even mention God." I just nod my head, biting my tongue to avoid lashing her with it. I say: "Oh, yeah?" and let her dig herself a little deeper...

"Do you know Mrs. So-n-so that taught at Cherry Hill?...When I did my student teaching back here in the 70's she said prayer EVERY morning in her classroom. Back then no one was so nice." This time I got a little bolder. Glancing into the rearview I said "Oh, really?!" She back pedaled a bit and said "I'm sure even then it must have been against the law but I just loved that classroom. My fellow teachers in California just die when I tell them what she did." I bet they do!

I think I'm going to get a break when husband insists that we talk about the land listing. Finally, he's put her in her place a bit and started talking business. Now that I like. We're talking water tables and reverse-osmosis and County Commission approval...all the goods of the real estate business. I'm starting to let the hairs on my neck relax.

The next time she pipes up I'm actually finding some hope for this hopeless woman in the back seat. She mentions how when they were going to school hubby used to drive her down by the lake but they didn't see much of the lake "We were too busy with other things." So she IS a normal red-blooded, groping in the back seat kind of woman. "Yea, I caught my man." Husband chides her again, "Oh, you didn't catch me dear, it makes it sounds like you trapped me." How Fruedian of him, one might say.

I think about sympathizing with being married young but I decide that would cement our unspoken Mormon pact. The one where you find so many things common in Mormonism that you must have known each other in a previous life. It couldn't be that EVERY Mormon does all those stupid things, stupid callings, stupid ceremonies, etc. It must be that we've made a connection...or the spirit must have led us together. Yeah right. Did the spirit tell you that you that he ran out of believers and started sending agnostics instead?

The rest of the next hour went much like that weaking my resolve bit by bit. How many more intrusive and assumptive things could she say? She talks about L.Tom Perry at the Olympics with Al Roker telling him he must be a "rock star" for all the screaming he's illicited. She asks if I know where the next BYU will be? She catches a glimpse of a grain silo and thinks its a temple until the view changes a bit. I grew dizzy. This is more Mormonism than I've listened to since I actually listened to the Saturday AND Sunday sessions of Conference.

And then comes my worst challenge yet. I had to turn my adaptation device on full throttle to avoid dropping my jaw on the steering wheel and sending us to a firey death at the side of the freeway. She asks me as casually as if she were asking me if I had a tissue or a stick of gum: "How much are garments per piece?" Don't let her see the sweat form on your lip. You've handled all her stupid questions with the skill of a professional boxer so far. I try to picture the black fuzzy board with the white plastic letters. Corban, one-piece, two-piece, cotton....aaaaaggghhh. I'm going to lose it!

"About $6.00 bucks" It seemed about right because $5.50 flashed in my mind. It's been so long, about 3 years. But after I said it I knew it was too high. "Oh, really? Wow! Well, my aunt has always bought our garments for us since we were married and she died last year. I thought it would be a good tradition to start in our family." Husband realizes his wife is talking about his underwear! "Well, dear. That's not a tradition I want to try and keep up."

I pipe in trying to change the subject "What I really like is a gift certificate for a dinner out because that's something we couldn't afford when we were young." But she won't give up, "Well yes, I had another aunt who did that...but wouldn't it be nice to not have to worry about garments when you knew you were going to get new ones on your birthday? But $6.00...I thought they would only be about 3 or 4 but I don't know the price because my aunt alway bought them and she was a baptist!" I was amazed. I asked "How did she do that?" "Oh, you order them on the 800 number. All you need is the name of the ward." Hubby says "Just use the 800 number dear."

I was amazed that I made it home with the illusion intact. I even had promises of referrals for her California friends that were retiring to Utah too...but I knew that I was the one that would be referring them. 25% of a commission is a great deal indeed to avoid another 2 hours of spirit prison in a forest green mini-van on the backroads of South Utah County.

Will my identity stay a secret? Will the summer rays tempt me to wear the forbidden Fruit of the Looms for all the world to see? Will the next client adapt their questions so as to crush my defenses...the garment question almost did me in? I must prepare for all contingencies. But I know the one that always gets me...."Are you a Mormon?" Still can't lie to that one. But don't tell my enemies. Customers make strange bed fellows indeed. Can't live with them...can't get a check without them.

Tune in next time when Johanna Frump - Exmo Realtor again attempts to thwart the probing questions of Super Mormons who think that only other worthy mormons can help them with their real estate needs.