A few Sundays ago, I went into high priest group, sat down, and a song started playing in my head. It took a few minutes before I could place it.
It was from “Sesame Street” — “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong.”
It didn’t take long to figure out that the “not belonging thing” was me. All the other men in the room were wearing their Mormon general authority best: white shirt, dark suit, conservative tie and black socks with Oxford shoes.
I was wearing my Sunday best, too. It’s also my Tribune best, dinner-and-a-show best, and courtroom best: an open-collar shirt of suspicious hue, Dockers, green socks, brown shoes and a sheath knife.
I started thinking — never a good practice — and realized that I was looking at a collection of a specific type of humans. What’s a good name for things that can be categorized?
For example, it’s a pride of lions, a herd of cows, a troop of monkeys and an exaltation of larks. Oysters are a bed, porcupines a prickle and kangaroos a mob.
It’s a skulk of foxes, a romp of otters, a cackle of hyenas — I’m not making this up. Research it yourself — a conspiracy of lemurs and an “obliviousness of teenagers.”
OK, that last one I did make up. I got it from watching two teenagers walk into the side of a parked car while texting.
What would a group of readily identifiable Mormons be called? A quorum of Mormons? That’s too easy. Besides, it’s particular just to men.
So, say you saw some people standing on a corner who were easily identifiable at a distance as Mormon. And let’s not kid ourselves that such a thing isn’t likely, OK? In some cases we’re every bit as uniformed as the Amish.
What would you say? “My, that’s a fine correlation of Mormons over there” or “Hey, look at that testimony of Mormons” or “Watch out! Here comes a snobbery of Mormons.”
As with animals, the name has to be something generally associated (or completely at odds) with the collective image. For example, a bunch of salamanders is a “congress,” a group of circling vultures is a “kettle,” a flock of seabirds is a “wreck,” and a collection of ferrets is a “business.”
I’m going with “a correlation of Mormons.” It speaks to our proclivity of worshipping God through conformity and imitation.
Incidentally, this is not just an LDS thing. There also could be a “rant” of Southern Baptists, a “confessional” of Catholics, a “thrash” of Pentecostals, or a “knock” of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Nor does this collective referencing apply only to religion. It works with all groups. It’s a “a rage” of feminists, “a sneer” of atheists, and a “grope” of congressmen.
Wait. Would that mean it’s a “grab” of female co-workers? It is, after all, in keeping with the times in which we live.
I asked several of my own female co-workers to consider the idea of them being referred to as “a grab.” One of them — specifically editorial writer Michelle Quist — said, “Only if you want this keyboard up the side of your head.”
Clearly, this is a delicate subject, one I am not able to tackle on my own. That’s because I’m a columnist, referred to in a group as a “loser” of columnists.