The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear

The tale of pioneer woodwork

The road to the Temple is fraught with danger and excitement.

Way back during the Cretaceous Period, when I was just a hormone-throbbing teen — and way before I discovered Aqua Net and Lee Press on Nails — the young Mormon men in my ward were scheduled to go to the Temple in Logan and perform baptisms for the dead.  I was excited to see inside the Temple, and nervous because I don’t really like putting my head under water so much.

We gathered at the church house and packed all thirteen of us into two cars for the 45-minute ride to the Temple.  After some subtle yet very calculated manipulations, I ended up in one of the back seats, solidly wedged against “Tim,” toward whom I just so happened to be holding a secret raging crush. Teenage hormones being what they were, I began to feel “my testimony” welling up deep within.  As we drove mile after mile, with every bump in the road, I soon realized I was sailing at full mast and it was harder than trigonometry.   As we drew closer to Logan, and the lighted towers of the Temple became visible to us from the car, I became very quiet.  I’m sure the other guys thought that I was reverently meditating on the spiritual aspects of baptism; however, in reality, a slow simmering dread had developed within my bosom that the other guys might bear witness to my testimony when we got out of the car.

Luckily, when we arrived there was some general confusion as we exited the cars. I was able to lag behind just a bit so that I ended up following behind everyone else, thus sparing me this immediate occasion to bear my testimony.  Thankfully, the rise in my Levi’s subsided during our baptismal orientation.

I remembered thinking upon viewing the baptismal font, perched on the shoulders of the twelve oxen, with the bridge leading into it, that the pioneers knew how to produce a very stylish hot tub.  My feelings of dread and apprehension re-awakened when we went into the group changing room to dress in white baptismal clothes.  Apparently, the pioneers saw no need for private changing booths. Like a frightened mouse, I quickly commandeered the furthest, darkest corner and remained facing the corner while I changed into my pure-white clothing.  Success!  I emerged from the changing room, as yet not disgraced, ready to proceed.

There were two elders assigned to perform the baptisms.  The first was just a little old wrinkled wisp of a man, about 6o years old. A medium-sized back wave could have surfed him right out of the font and skewered him on the horns of one of the oxen. The other attendant took my breath away.  He was 6-foot-4, with broad shoulders, a narrow waist, and perfect teeth that gleamed when he smiled.  He was everything that a budding Aaronic princess-in-training could ever have dreamed of.  I was immediately accosted with a barrage of impure thoughts.  Oh, the horror, to be inside the Temple and to have impure thoughts.  I surely will be going to Hell.

The two men took turns baptizing the members of the group.  I was immediately torn.  I very much wanted Elder Hunk to be the one who grasped me in his strong arms and baptized me, although I was pretty sure it might precipitate another “testimony crisis.”

When the baptisms began, Elder Hunk entered the pool and as his clothing became wet, his pristine white shirt clung to his magnificent torso.  I could actually see the ridges of his six-pack. God is indeed great!  In an effort to purge my impure thoughts, I concentrated on the craftsmanship of the ornate pioneer woodwork and moldings in the room.  This had limited success in preventing me from sporting some woodwork of my own.  It came to be my turn.  I got up and crossed the small bridge into the font and wouldn’t you know it, Elder Hunk was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, smiling his perfect smile, holding out his hand, welcoming me into the water.  Oh, the thrill!  Oh, the horror!  Look at that delicately carved handrail!

Elder Hunk grasped my shoulders firmly with his tender hands.  I sensed a stirring in my groin.  That certainly is intricate tile work!  He pulled me close to him so that our bodies were touching.  Oh my, what a beautiful chandelier!  I could feel the power in his hands as they grasped mine.  My goodness, that table has a beehive carved in it!  His bulging thigh pressed tightly against mine for leverage.  Look at that antique doorknob!  We began.

Any thrill I was experiencing was immediately dissipated when Elder Hunk’s muscular arms thrust me under the water and I was reduced to a sputtering, quivering, near drowning princess.  We repeated the ceremony twenty-five times.  With each rinse-and-repeat, another thought was washed away. If admiring the woodwork couldn’t purge my feelings, the quest for oxygen certainly would. Later, with my reputation still intact, at least for a few more years, a somewhat soggy princess emerged from the Temple, destined to have more “impure thoughts” on another day.

Like always these events leave us with several eternal questions:

1.                   Is this how hot tub parties began?

2.                   Can you buy a hot tub perched atop twelve oxen at Homo Depot?

3.                   How difficult would it be to install a hot tub on the shoulders of twelve Adonis’?

4.                   Are baptism ceremonies the origination of wet T-shirt contests?

5.                   Is this the inspiration behind waterboarding?

These and other important questions to be answered in future chapters of: The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear.

Petunia Pap Smear

Petunia Pap Smear was born a boy in a Mormon family in a small Idaho town in the year of the cock. No, really, look it up. As is LDS tradition, at a month old her father blessed the little Petunia in the ward house on the first Sunday in June. The very next day, they tore the church house down. Probably for good reason. Little did parents Jack and Orthea know that their little boy would grow up to be a full-fledged, rainbow flag-waving, high heel-wearing, sheep-tending “Ida-Homo.” The Perils of Petunia Pap Smear follows her life from the sheep-tending Boy Scout of her youth to the full-figured and brash queen she is today. Her adventures in the many Queer-Tanic trips, the Salt Lake Men's Choir, the Matrons of Mayhem, and Utah Prides and Lagoon Days have been canonized the past 15 years in a monthly column in QSaltLake Magazine, Utah's publication for the LGBTQ+ community. These tales and her words of wisdom were corralled into a 355-page book that will become the Quint to the Mormon Quad. See it at

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