The following is a true story.
Last Sunday evening at about 7:20 p.m. I was in the Salt Lake City international airport, waiting for my wife to arrive from California. I was standing just outside the TSA security checkpoint, in the Delta terminal, reading a book to help pass the time.
I heard a rather abrupt and hearty greeting issue from behind me, so I instinctively looked up. At that precise second, next to me in mid-stride was none other than Elder David A. Bednar, apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I immediately recognized him as someone famous; he was smiling in acknowledgement of whomever had greeted him. If you hold your left arm out straight, he was literally as close to me as your left elbow is to you.
Here are my observations:
Many of us, after a plane trip, are a bit disheveled. Not Elder Bednar. His grooming and hygiene were impeccable; I daresay that he had nary a hair out of place. I also observed that he is almost exactly my same height, 5' 8", or no more than an inch taller at most.
As I said, I instantly recognized him as someone famous, but the recognition of specifically who he was hit me maybe a split second later, maximum. But within that brief window of time, I was struck by the amazingly high quality of the suit he was wearing.
This rather surprises me, to be honest, since I was raised poor, am currently poor, and will most likely always be poor. Therefore, I have no sense whatsoever for "the finer things in life" or what exactly constitutes a top-quality item vs. merely a mid-quality item (since I have little experience with either). Yet, right after seeing his face, I was struck by just how, uh, nice (for lack of a better word) his suit was. He was wearing literally the best suit I've ever seen in my life, and that's no exaggeration. This thing positively radiated quality. It was jet-black, or very near unto it, and, like its wearer, was immaculate.
Forgive me for being so redundant on this one subject, but I'm literally confused, even now, by how much of an impression something as mundane as the quality of a suit could make on me. Like I said, typically I can't discern such things, but for some reason this detail stood out. I can't explain it, and it's aggravating me.
Anyway, let's move on. I of course did a double-take, turning around to get a second look once, like I said, I recalled specifically who he was. I saw two "handlers" who had come to greet him; perhaps one of them was his chauffeur, perhaps they were both from church security, who knows? They were both male and they both seemed to be wearing suits of similar, if not identical, color and quality.
I didn't hear the specifics of their conversation, but in the midst of additional cordial greetings they turned around and headed toward the parking garage. I got the impression that this sort of thing was a very routine "business as usual" occurrence for them.
Elder Bednar held himself ramrod straight. Unlike many passengers after a flight, there was no stooping or dragging of feet from him! Now that I mention it, I didn't detect a hint of fatigue, either.
I made it a point to visually compare him to the folks who were in the coiling line a few feet away from him, the ones in line for the TSA security checkpoint before boarding their flights. For some unfathomable reason, he simply was not just another one of the unwashed masses. He seemed distinctly apart from those close by him, like he was a different caliber of humanity entirely. Don't make the mistake of thinking that this was because he acted "high and mighty"--he most certainly didn't--he just seemed to possess an involuntary aura of "in the world, but not of it," again for lack of a better phrase. I literally can't explain it. Must've been the suit.
Anyway, I'm a bit taken aback by all this, because as a grizzled apostate I thought for sure I couldn't possibly be impressed by LDS royalty anymore. Who knows, maybe this is all symptomatic of being "star struck" to some extent, because let's face it, he is, literally, a celebrity among millions of Mormons and ex-Mormons alike. Or could it be the fact that most encounters with apostles take place in controlled environments, whereas this one was in the wild?
To sum up, Elder Bednar made a distinct impression on me, but, apostate that I am, I'm left scratching my head wondering how and why this is so.
"I actually thought you were doing a parody of Hales - I couldn't believe he made those comments seriously. But he did."