George D. Pyper (1860-1943) – member of the Tabernacle Choir, manager of the Salt Lake Theater, and General Superintendent of the Sunday Schools – tells this story about his time in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1897, when he was directing Utah’s exhibit at the Tennessee Centennial:
I had been pestered to death, as the saying goes, with the questions, “Are you a Mormon?” and “How many wives have you got?” so I thought I’d try an experiment, even though it might be a little dangerous. In the crowd visiting my booth was a very haughty but rather handsome woman, and the following conversation occurred:
“Are you from Utah?”
“Are you a Mormon?”
Then bluntly, “How many wives have you got?”
I looked hurriedly around to leave the impression that I didn’t want anyone else to hear, then said:
“I have only six now, but if you’ll say ‘yes’ I’ll make it seven.”
I’ll never forget the look of surprise on that woman’s face. She uttered a sound something between a shriek and an indignant snort and hurriedly left the booth.
I had a good laugh over it and thought it a successful method of disposing of impertinent people, until one day a pert black-eyed young woman planked herself down at my table and began the regular inquisition:
“Are you from Utah? Are you a Mormon? and, How many wives have you got?”
I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “I’ve only got six now, but if you’ll say ‘yes’ I’ll make it seven.”
She looked me straight back in the eyes, shot her hand across the table and fairly shouted, ”I’ll go you.”
It was then my turn to renege, which I did as gracefully as possible, and didn’t try that stunt any more.