I've got the black lung. It's only a matter of time before my dream of dying of consumption finally comes true.
It was California Mormon Helping Hands Day yesterday. This is when Mormons all over the state put on yellow vests and paint things, or dig things, or plant things all in an effort to beautify our communities and also to say, "Hey, look how helpful we are. Don't hate us. We're normal. Except that we're all super chipper about painting city curbs at 7:30 on a Saturday morning."
My stake headed out to our biggest city park and painted the fence around the baseball diamond and laid mulch. I was on paint patrol and within the first 5 minutes a drop of paint fell on my nostril. It smelled gross. But not as gross as the mulch. I actually really love doing stuff like this. The work is a bit arduous but you get to do it next to members of your ward and stake and you can all laugh and joke about the blisters forming on your hands or the paint up your nose. And there's all these little kids running around trying to help out or making water balloons out of left over latex gloves. It feels a bit like a carnival, only sweatier.
So here's where the black lung comes in. In an effort to support our mid-singles group* Katie and I went out to the multi-stake service project/barbecue they were having in the afternoon. We met at the church and then drove out to the walking trail where there were piles and piles of mulch. Not nearly as stinky as the morning variety but it was in Fontana, and if there's one thing you should know about Fontana it is that the wind there has no mercy. Oh, it blows. It looked like the piles of mulch were smoking but it was actually just the wind picking it up. They gave us masks and shovels and rakes and we spread that mulch for two hours. But even the masks were no match for the wind and last night when we got home we both felt like we had inhaled a pile of dirt. But it was still a good time because, let's be honest here, consumption jokes are funny.
On a tangential note: There was a bbq at the end of the mulching and by that time I had 1.) painted a fence, 2.) spent several hours cleaning my balcony and planting lots of flowers, and 3.) spent 2 hours being doused with mulch, all without a shower or a change of clothes, although I did load on extra layers of the cancer-causing deodorant. It struck me as kind of funny that we were at a singles activity - the main point of these being to meet people - and here we all were looking sweaty and dirty and a bit on the disgusting side and not nearly as attractive as one would hope. It was even funnier when we got back to the church and saw the clean and fresh faces of all the people who skipped the mulching and came for the food. It's a shame I'm going to be dead from the black lung in a month, considering all the guys I impressed.
*Things you may not know about the Mormons: the church has various groups for single people, mostly in an effort to eradicate the need for them. There are the young single adults who are 18-30, the single adults 31 til you die and recently they have started up a mid-singles group for the 31-45ish. It is a bit of a relief to be out of the same dating pool as my grandpa.