Memoir of a Plyg:
EDIFICATION at Utah’s
Hurricane High School
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.Nietzsche
MY LIFE’S STRENGTHENING *
I was supposed to spend my life
On the Riviera drinking wine.
So what am I doing in front of you
Reciting this rhyme
About Life’s strengthening,
And living to tell about it,
Line upon line?
Nietzsche said what doesn’t kill us,
Strengthens us in time;
I should be mighty strong, then.
And doin’ fine.
Samples of my strengthening came in 1953:
When I was seven, the small polygamist enclave wherein I lived (Short Creek, Arizona/AKA: Colorado City/Hill Dale, Utah) was raided by Lawmen: Utah and Arizona’s police-action effort to rid their Borders of the growing menace of Polygamy’s renegades and lawlessness.
During this police activity, everyone in Short Creek’s reclusive cult was taken into captivity. The men were incarcerated, including their self-proclaimed Prophet LeRoy Johnson. During their jail time, Daddy saw “Uncle Roy” do things “no prophet would ever do!”
So, when freed from Incarceration and Probation in 1956, Daddy moved his family to a nearby small agrarian Mainstream-Mormon town, Hurricane, Utah — a place where NO “Plyg Kid”/AKA Mormon Fundamentalist should ever have lived … because of most mainline Mormons’ intolerance of Mormon Fundies.
However, we lived there five years, experiencing painful persecution perpetrated by most of Hurricane’s mainline-Mormon teachers and classmates alike—so-called “Latter-Day Saints”/LDS who abandoned polygamy in 1890.”
But my Mormon-Fundy Pa’s stance on this subject was:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith said we’d be damned if we didn’t live polygamy! So I’ll be damned if I’ll be damned for giving it up!”
So he didn’t. So his kids were damned to suffer for it. So we did! So the following is an example of what I endured, due to my fanatic parents’ decisions–and the small-town’s general ostracism toward “Plygs”/Mormon Fundies.
In 8th grade, in a wild attempt to displace me–a Plyg–with a mainstream- Mormon kid … so I wouldn’t again end up in the Town’s newspaper as Top Student, my “Latter-Day-Saint” English teacher Ms. Naegle told our class, only four days before the end of the school year:
“Your homework this week is to memorize the whole 105 English prepositions! Anyone who doesn’t memorize them … in order … from A to Z … BY FRIDAY … WILL get an ‘F’ as their final grade!!”
So sure was she nobody could do this maniacal assignment,
she figured it would get me, Miss Plyggy, out of position as “Best Student.”
She was almost right: Nobody but me did it!
I pert-near met my Maker. But succeeded in memorizing, within four days, that whole list of nonsense words — on top of loads of homework from other classes … and after-school chores.
Come Friday, I was fit to be tied!
My brain was fried!
But I recited by memory
The whole 105
Without a glitch.
It didn’t please the old witch.
She almost died
When her eighty-four other 8th-Graders cried:
“Nobody but Beulah (AKA Stephany)
Memorized those 105 prepositions …
Though we tried!”
So I, “Inferior Fundy” was eyed:
I’d again beat all the little Saints!
Thus avoiding an “F” as my “prize.”
Instead, I’d garnered … Surprise!…
The “Preposition Pulitzer Prize”!
But Miss Naegle didn’t recognize me, “Miss Plyggy!”
Nor did she give an “F” to her other eighty-three eighth-graders
Who failed the assignment miserably.
She, instead, pretended she had never assigned
This horrendous homework so unkind!
Since then, the only thing I find
Memorizing those Prepositions has been good for
Is mesmerizing captive audiences.
So here goes my Preposition Rendition … the whole 105 English Prepositions;
the world’s longest, albeit irrational cuss-word:
At about above aboard across according to along alongside against among amongst amid amidst around after
before behind below beneath beside besides between betwixt beyond but because of by by way of by means of by reason of
by virtue of concerning considering down during despite due to ‘ere except excepting for from in into instead of in care of in case of
in front of in place of in spite of in accordance with in reference to
in preference to in regard to in regards to in respect to in addition to like ‘mid ‘midst near ‘neath notwithstanding of off on onto
on account of on top of over o’er out outside past ‘round respecting regarding since save sans to toward towards through throughout ’till unless until up upon unto under underneath
via versus Vs. with within without with respect to or for
without respect to or for with reference to without reference to
with preference to without preference for …
*This concludes the 105 Prepositions homework assignment.
For more mesmerizing essays on my life’s edification and education at
Hurricane High, see my Web Logs/Blogs at StephanySpencer.com
—Stephany with a “Y.”
Comments on my California Writers Club
Open-Mic Preposition Presentation:
God does things for a reason. He does have a wonderfully foolproof sense of humor… as do you. You made me laugh Thursday at Open Mic like I haven’t laughed in oh so long!
Your rendition was a perfect little piece of genius … and your recitation at the end was brilliant. It did nothing but add to the piece.
I have done loads of theatre, film and literary reviews; but your amazing preposition rendition was unusual, exhilarating new stuff; and literally brought me back to life.
It may have and probably did save my life…your leaning over my shoulder at the end of the reading and telling me that I “ought to be one of the Poet Laureates” really made me feel good — I mean better than I have felt for a long, long time. This morning I feel like myself for the first time in many years. ~Rad
*A fuller version of the above essay exists at:
Memoir: I won and I Lost … Or How More Is Less