I'm not talking about the actual missionaries. I'm talking about the returned elders, with a new mission: to prove to Utah County what a sensational missionary they were. But how will you ever know who they are? In street clothes and without name tags, they just blend in with the masses. However, there are a few ways you can recognize an Elder when you see one. Here's how:
At church, an Elder will always have some kind of mission memorabilia to show off. IE the kangaroo skin scripture case, some sort of Tongan skirt/wrap that they wear over their slacks, or the classic leather-etched scripture case (usually depicting a scene from the Book of Mormon) from any Latin region of the world.
THE THIRD-HARDEST LANGUAGE:
Within the first 10 minutes of conversation they will let you know that they spoke one of the "three hardest languages" there are. Even if it was just French, they'll be sure to tell you the "dialect" they spoke was far more complicated than any state-side missionary could ever dream. This conversation will go something like this:
You: "Oh so you went on the mish to Spain? That's pretty neat".
The Elder: "Yeah, I really miss the people. And the language. You know, REAL Spanish is the third-hardest language on earth to speak, besides Finnish and Mandarin."
Side note: if the Elder in question actually did speak Finnish, he is automatically the King of all Elders in Utah County.
Elders are known for their fantastic accents. It's the one piece their mission they can't ever let go of. If they went to Hawaii for their mission, they must pronounce it "Huh-vi-ee". If they went to Tonga, it's "Tone-ga". Samoa is "Sah-moa". An Elder is no longer an American when they get back. They are now a native of wherever they went. This also explains what I like to call the "Aloha Phenomenon". This is when an Elder (or actually even Mormons that have recently come back from a vacation to Hawaii) will get up in sacrament meeting and begin their testimony/talk with the following:
"Aloooooooooha! (crowd mumbles aloha back) Oh c'mon, you can do better than that! ALOOOOOOOOOOOOOHA! (crowd is forced to repeat again)"
Here's what you will find in the living room of an Elder:
A giant flag of wherever they went, tacked onto the wall. This is especially pleasing when all four members of the apartment are Elders. All four walls, covered in memories.
When deciding what to eat for the night, a true Elder will always know the closest authentic mission-food restaurant around. They will take you there and speak the native language with the waitresses (this is actually a great bonus to knowing an Elder). If they are an advanced Elder, they will make the food for you themselves. They will be sure to let you know that most restaurants in the states serve only a "watered-down" version of truly authentic food from (insert awesome country here).
The following conversation will happen with most Elders. Beware. It is NEVER funny but they feel obligated to say it.
You: "So when did you get back from your mission?"
Elder: "Two months ago. My mission was the best 8 months of my life!"
You: fake laughter
So there you have it. There are other characteristics to watch for, these are just the basics. Just make sure you treat an Elder delicately when you meet one. They won't know how to react to sarcastic remarks or even constructive criticism. Just let them get it all out and hopefully they will normalize in another two years.