Mike Crapo: The First Boy I Kissed

Mike doesn’t remember it, I’m sure.  He was twelve years old.  I was eight.  I was hopelessly infatuated with him–as any eight year old girl would have been.  He was adorable. Picture this: dark hair styled like Paul McCartney’s; grey-green eyes; tall and still verging the growth spurt that would make him a lean specimen of manhood any artist could use as a model for Peter the Apostle.

He was my uncle George’s best friend.  I was certainly perceived as a bratty kid–and a redhead at that, with invisible eyelashes, barely-there eyebrows and an ever present “I give up” pony tail binding my unruly hair.

Usually, Mike responded to my attempts at conversation with something like, “Go away, Kid.”

But there came a time when I was standing on a couch and Mike was two feet away from me. I am no mathmetician, but I started calculating distance, velocity, risk.  Yes, I could do it.  I could reach out, grab his shoulders, and plant a solid kiss on his lips.  I waited until he was perfectly positioned, and then I leapt.  Yes! I was exactly where I needed to be, and my lips were smack dab on his!  The chance would never present itself again.  I kissed Mike Crapo.

His response was predictable.  “Markie! Eeew!”  He wiped his lips–twice.  Didn’t matter.  My kiss had transcended his skin and gone into his blood. That’s how passionate it was.  My uncles and aunts had all witnessed it, and sputtered out incredulous reactions like, “Markie! What were you thinking?” “Why did you do that?” “I can’t believe you did that!” “What kind of a girl are you?”

Their condemnations were nothing.  I had kissed Mike Crapo.

That was the last time I remember being within a few feet of him.  I suspect he avoided me from then on.  But I suspect he remembers me.  If you asked how old he was when he got his first kiss, he would probably give a different age than twelve, but I know better.

Mike got married while I was still in high school.  I moved on to other infatuations and finally to a deep and steadfast love.  Still, Mike’s name brings memories of innocence and youth.

So it was a personal shock to see that name and his sixty-one-year-old face, the hair no longer black but still thick, on the television screen above the news banner: “Idaho Senator Mike Crapo Arrested for DUI.”

I was at the gym, working on the elliptical and listening to “Rock You Like a Hurricane!” I wonder if anyone heard me gasp, “Oh no!  Oh Mike!”

Nobody needed to tell me what LDS Church positions he had held.  I knew.  I remember my grandmother talking about seeing Mike in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple.  He approached her and said, “Hello, Sister Groberg.” They had a delightful chat, as she described it.

My first thought, after I had processed the news of Mike’s DUI, was that he must have been carrying a terrible burden for years.  I don’t know if he’s an alcoholic, but I do know addiction, and I think he might be.

I attend LDS “Addiction Recovery Services” with my son weekly.  He is fighting a drug addiction and I am learning how to love deeper and how to let go. Too many of us parents see quick fixes for our children and try to impose our agendas on them.  I am simply with my son on the path, and we are enjoying one another’s company. I have a new appreciation for him as a recovering addict, and a new vision of his depth and determination.

I have a friend who also attends a 12-step program.  He is addicted to sex and pornography.  I knew him once as my student and enjoyed his work and his personality.  I wrote to him occasionally while he was a missionary.  After he returned, I introduced him to one of my Sunday school students, a sweet nineteen-year-old girl.

I won’t describe more than that.  He confessed what he had done.  I took the news in, let it sit, cried, but found that I couldn’t hate this young man. I couldn’t kill my maternal concern for him, even though he had hurt someone dear to me.  I knew he was ill.  I wanted him to get better.  I wanted her to be healed–to see her own magnificence.

I love how my friend Kent White describes the power of the atonement:

 I assert that there is no “stain of sin” in the traditional sense (a debt to some impersonal “Justice” leaving its mark of “unworthy” on our soul), rather only relationships that are at various levels of trust and love, for which I feel a sense of obligation. In this sense I agree with William James that there are no insignificant or private sins, in that my sins are what keep me from becoming fully engaged in the humanity/divinity of others. Habits to me represent the very deepest sense of how we see others and respond to their needs. The fruit of sin is not registered on some tally, but rather in my very habits, my entire way of being with others. I do not need to repent of my sins, rather I need to repent of sinning; I need a new set of habits which will lead me to a trustworthy character.

Whether or not Mike Crapo needs to attend a 12-step program is his business, not mine.  My son says, “Most people go to church so they won’t go to Hell.  Addicts go because they’re already in Hell.”

Mike Crapo as a model for Peter the Apostle?  Yes, he could still be that.  He could still be the man who denied his “better angels” and then learned a new level of loyalty, deeper and more demanding than he had ever supposed.

Mike  has already apologized to his family, his constituency, his state.  I am not on his side politically–I’m a liberal.  But I am on his side, and on anyone else’s side, in the light of Christ–regardless of what denomination each of us claims.  I believe in hope that transcends shame.  I know each of us can become a new creature in Christ, and that each of us can fall. Each of us will fall. We must then ask ourselves if we’ll label our fall as the end or merely a bump on a much longer and more arduous journey than we had realized.

The questions–”Why did you do that?” “What were you thinking?” “What kind of a person are you?”–begin to fade as we remember the stronger messages radiating from the Heavens. “Fear not.  Lift up your eyes. I bring you good tidings of great joy. You are mine, you are mine, you are mine.”

 

About Margaret Blair Young

Margaret Blair Young teaches literature and creative writing at Brigham Young University. For the past fifteen years, she has specialized in the history of blacks in the west, particularly black Mormons. She has written six novels and two short story collections, but has lately become interested in filmmaking. Her current endeavor is a film to be shot in Zambia called Heart of Africa (www.heartofafricafilm.com)

  • Todd Walker

    Wow Sister Young. This is a great first blog post, and one that hits home personally. As you know, last summer I had the experience of attending my Father’s Endowment In The Salt Lake Temple. What you may not know however is that my dad has struggles for years with drug addiction. Many in the family simply gave up on him, but my brother and I still remained hopeful. We would pray for him, give him an occasional inspirational Church book, but mainly just tried to understand and love him through it. He lost his wife, and some of his other children have never gotten close to him since. But the Lord worked a Mott miracle in my dads life and it just took the rift people. He attended a 12 step program for many years (and now helps lead one) he got clean, came back to the Church, went to the Temple and his got re-married. So this article really hit
    Home. I heard the news on TV about Crapo, but didn’t know who he was. I know this all teaches us what the atonement is really about. Thank you for your article!

    Todd

  • http://www.mormonconferences.org Kent (MC)

    I’m amazed that anything I have written on any blog has had any value over the years. You are very kind to quote me.

  • Dan

    I found this via a link from a friend we have in common. This was funny and sweet and sad and unlifting. Thanks.

  • JULIA G BLAIR

    Thanks for this thoughtful and beautiful response.

  • Margaret Blair Young

    Sorry I didn’t see the comments. Apparently, I have to approve them before they show up. Todd, thanks for that lovely story. Kent, I’ve shared your essay many times. I keep it handy.

  • Phil

    Wonderfully done – you have captured what I feel about hope in the atonement of Jesus Christ.
    As Elder Holland recently taught, “It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late.” (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/the-laborers-in-the-vineyard?lang=eng)

    • Phil

      I neglected a key part of Elder Holland’s point which is so helpful and potentially healing:
      “…to each of you, one and all, I testify of the renewing power of God’s love and the miracle of His grace. His concern is for THE FAITH AT WHICH YOU FINALLY ARRIVE, not the hour of the day in which you got there. So if you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven’t made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time.” (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/the-laborers-in-the-vineyard?lang=eng)


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