A funny thing happened on my way home from my dad's birthday party yesterday. As I was creeping through downtown, I had my radio tuned to the LDS Church's General Relief Society Meeting (specifically, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's remarks on “Roses vs. Forget-Me-Nots,” which had a pretty lovely message, whether you're a Mormon or worship no gods at all – although the section about the “most majestic and powerful Creature in the Universe knowing your name” obviously didn't apply).
I hit the intersection of State and S. Temple, and traffic immediately slammed to a stop. After a few minutes, it became apparent what was going on – there was a truly remarkable procession underway. I mistook it for a gay pride event, maybe even one thrown to promote solidarity after three recent incidents of downtown anti-gay violence. As traffic got worse and I crept to the front of a line of cars meticulously performing U-turns under the mirror-glassed gaze of State Highway Patrol motorcyle cops, I tried to keep a grip on my road rage, with little success. It didn't help my blood pressure to learn this morning that the event that crippled traffic throughout downtown was not, in fact, an LGBT-focused event, but rather the “first annual Salt Lake Undie Fun Run.” Well, that explains why everybody was so scantily clad, doesn't it?
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Thousands of people wearing nothing but their underwear and a smile ran in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday.
Crowds of people lined the streets. Some stood in stunned silence, while others showed obvious support for the undie clad crowd.
According to Nate Porter, who started this event through Facebook, the previous world record for an “undie run,” 550 people, was blown out of the water, but officials from Guinness wouldn't count the record because the BVD-clad hordes literally couldn't sit still for five minutes:
"For Guinness when you hit the horn that means for five minutes everybody has to stay in their location. When I hit the horn they blew through the fence."
The most interesting part of my evening unfolded when I crept to the front of the U-turn line after spending about half an hour traversing a block (I kid you not). As I watched, one of the undie crew approached Officer Friendly and interrupted his somber U-turn instructions to get a photo with him. The cop obliged. This was his first mistake.
As I watched, not quite believing my eyes, the underwear-clad younger dude (he looked to be, like most of the participants, in his early 20s) slipped his arm around the cop as his friend lined up his phone to snap a shot. The cop tolerated this. This was his second mistake.
As his friend snapped three or four pictures, the man with his arm around the police officer slipped his hand down, and as deftly and smoothly as I've ever seen an athlete deliver a game-winning play stole the cop's wallet. The cop had no idea. After that, the dam broke, and everybody wanted a picture with Officer Friendly. As he dealt with his sudden popularity, the thief, bearing the cop's wallet, and, for all I know, his badge, quickly jogged back into the crowd and was gone.