As kids, we loved going to “town,” but oftentimes other kids would laugh and scoff at us, point and yell, “plyg kids!” It was intended as an insult against kids born into the polygamous lifestyle. Our rural and religious mode of dress made it easy for others to identify us. I’ll admit that sometimes we looked quite poor and awkward. My dad used to say that poor people have poor ways, and rich people, damn mean ones. When he was excommunicated from the church, church officials told him that his kids would eat out of garbage cans. Nevertheless, the closest I ever came to eating out of garbage cans was when one of my mothers sent me out–with my food–to eat by the garbage cans because of my horrible table manners.
Eventually, I moved to Salt Lake City to attend school. Once in sixth grade, I was playing on the monkey bars when several of my classmates began taunting me. One boy called my mothers whores. Well, I had the high ground and I used it. I descended on that irreverent little shit like fire raining from heaven. I might have been a plyg kid, but that only meant that I knew how to fight. It was good that the playground monitors split up the fight or there might not have been much left of him. I was marched straight to the principal’s office for discipline. Turns out that the principal was really cool and I was very respectful of adults (see, plyg kids were taught that way) so everything went well. After returning from my mandatory term of suspension, I always had a great relationship with the principal and the other kids toned down their taunting, too.
Plygs weren’t the smartest kids on the block so some of them felt inclined to conjure up a few insults of their own against monogamous kids. They called them “monog hogs.” I never liked calling people names, so I never used the term, perhaps because it felt base, or more likely because I was never good at insulting people; it requires a special wit and talent to do it well. Hence, I claim it as a virtue and I’m sticking with it.
Like insults often do, if used pervasively enough, they infiltrate one’s self image. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard ex-crickers call themselves plyg kids. (Ex-crickers are people who have abandoned the polygamous lifestyle of Short Creek, Arizona, my hometown. It’s another one of those insults that have penetrated the self image. Sad, but true.) What would I do with all of those dollars? I don’t know. I could buy a yacht or maybe start an endowment to help people overcome the mental scars that still haunt them. Short Creek was not a very nice place, and again, like often happens, the worst abuse came from within. Some have moved past it and some have not, but some were hurt worse than others.
This post is not about licking wounds, however. As plyg kids, we were destined to eat out of garbage cans, but my parents worked hard to make sure that prophecy never came true. They provided for us against all adversity. Was there adversity? Absolutely! My parents lost jobs, took on fake identities, scattered over four or five states, and incurred all of the expense and trauma which you might imagine that to include. Other families suffered even worse. Their children were confiscated by the state and their men were sentenced to prison. Why did they suffer all of this? To defend their right to enjoy consensual relationships against prejudice and bigotry. This post is about kicking ass like our parents did. (Granted, in our own ways.)
So what about it, Ariel? What’s your point? What have you done that could even compare? Well, I’ve written a book. And, yes, I know that doesn’t compare. But it’s a start. I’m not the first plyg kid to do it, and I won’t be the last. Wouldn’t it be great, though, if this plyg kid could make it onto Amazon’s free-books chart? It’s not as great as making it onto Amazon’s paid-books chart, but perhaps plyg kids aren’t destined for that level of greatness, yet. I’ll take small victories. I’m offering my book for free Monday-Wednesday (July 31st, August 1st and 2nd). Who do I want to download my book for free? Every plyg kid in the world. This is for you. Cheers.
Photo by Lisa Dockstader. All rights reserved.