Slappin’ the Salami (The Musical)

How’s that for an email headline?

So there we were, 4 boys and 1 dad packed in a tiny car driving home from the Latter Day Saint (Mormon) temple in Los Angeles. We were headed back home to Goleta, Santa Barbara’s conjoined twin, 2 hours up the California coast.

For Mormons, temples are a sacred space. They are places for quiet contemplation, library-level speaking tones, and vaguely Masonic rituals. So they’re also pretty weird. But still, very sacred places. They really drill that into you as a child.

On Sundays, Mormons go to regular churches, just like standard Christians. Temples are a special occasion kinda deal. Very Serious Business.

The boys in this car were all 12 years old, and this was the first time any of us had gone to a temple.

We’d spent the about half the day quietly, reverently, getting baptized for dead people.

Yes, that’s a thing.

Mormons believe that everyone must be baptized in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But that creates a problem: Not everyone has the chance. Some people were born, for example, before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints got going in the 1830s (and only Mormon-style baptism counts), so those folks are just screwed.

But, Mormons being the super liberal, equal opportunity kinda folks that they are (haha!), they came up with a way to address this clear example of structural inequality:

If you didn’t have a legitimate chance to be baptized while you were living, someone can be baptized on your behalf after you’re dead, and you can choose to accept that baptism in the afterlife and get upgraded to Mormon Heaven.

It’s up to God to determine who qualifies as not having a legitimate chance, so the Mormons are trying to baptize everyone ever, just in case.

So we were there, doing that. We drove 2 hours down to LA, got dressed up in white jumpsuits, and waited our turns to get dunked for some dead folks in a very fancy baptismal font.

Now we were headed home, and us boys in the back seat were getting restless. The quiet reverence was starting to break down.

I’m not sure what I was doing, maybe talking to the kid or dad up front, but at some point the two kids next to me started having a quiet side conversation.

Since I was sitting so close, in such a small car, I eventually caught a little piece of their conversation. I heard three words quite clearly: “Slappin’ the salami.”

No context. Just that phrase.

I thought that slappin’ the salami sounded absolutely hilarious.

So, what did I do with this amazing new phrase? Ladies and gentlemen, I turned it into a SONG.

Which I started singing, very loudly, in that tiny little car.

I’m slappin’ the salami!
I’m slappin’ the salami!
Just slapping’ the salami!
I’m slappin’ the salami!
I’m slappinnnn’, slappinnnn’, slappin’ the salaAAAamiiiiiii!

The boys next to me were absolutely panicking. “JASON STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT NOOOOO”

See they actually knew what that hilarious and silly phrase meant. But me? I was completely clueless. Just an innocent little Mormon boy singing his heart out.

What a fun phrase for a song! Haha!

Eventually, The Dad Up Front had to intervene. As an adult chaperone on a Very Religious Outing, you’re not supposed to let kids sing songs about jerking off.

Pretty sure he knew what had transpired in the back, too. Because he cut in to ask me, “Jason. Do you know what that means?”

“Uh…no?” At this point, based on my friends’ reaction and The Dad’s tone, I knew I’d committed a major breach of protocol.

“Maybe you shouldn’t use words if you don’t know what they mean,” he said. He did not clarify the meaning. I did not ask.

It was pretty quiet after that.