In addition to smiling and pretending that I LOVE making cards for the *missionaries, my new *calling also requires me to make an excessive amount of personal sacrifice. I've been getting some passive aggressive slack from the *Young Women President for not making my schedule as accessible as she has to make hers (like I skip church and activities and stuff). I guess when you're single people think your time is less important and a lot more expendable than it is when you work from home and live in a house of teenagers who you can force to do the cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping and all of those other things that single people NEVER do becuase we live the life of luxury and spend copious amounts of energy wasting time on less important activities such as full time jobs, education, and humanitarian projects. Now, I don't want a barrage of backlash from people who think I'm undervaluing the complexities and difficulties of managing a family, because that's not what I'm doing. I'm simply saying that singledom does not equal oodles of free time and endless days spend watching clouds while lying in a field of flowers. I sometimes get the impression that when I say, "no, I can't make 3 dozen sugar cookies on a short notice because I have prior obligations" people think I'm being lazy and obstinate and NOT *magnifying my calling. When the truth is, my life is scheduled at least a month out...deal with it.
SO, when I was told that there was an all day youth activity 5 days before it was to take place, I was a little irritated. They wanted me to take a "shift" chaperoning the youth that just wasn't going to work around the other 10 things I had scheduled (like work). So instead of arguing my case (that I have a full day of clients and a $200,000 grant to write), I simply said that I would take the last shift: 8-10pm and chaperon the dance.
Now, for those of you who didn't grow up behind the *Zion Curtain let me take a few moments to explain the concept of the "Stake Dance". Contrary to what the name suggests, it does not involve meat. What it does involve is LDS youth ages 14-18, crammed into the church gym that has been gobbed up with oodles of streamers and paper fish hanging from the basketball hoop. Mormons have devised all sorts of cool ways to take your run of the mill basketball hoop and turn it into an architectural showpiece. Case in point:
I know. I thought the same thing, "clever as hell".
So, back to the dance, you have awkward teenagers, tacky decorations...oh yes, you have the punch and cookie table (which is HIGHLY guarded, we don't want any shenanigans taking place or someone slipping cool-aide into the water). But the BEST part is the endless stream of 1980's soft rock tunes that have all been approved by the *bishop. Now, Alphaville's smash hit "Forever Young" was way too progressive back in it's day (after all, it does promote endless immaturity, which in Mormon terms means postponing marriage until you're in your late 20's...and we can't have that). But somewhere in the last 16 years, it lost its power of persuasion (I'm pretty sure BYU did a study that debunked the "forever young equals fornication" theory) so it's now a stake dance classic.
Saturday night after work I drove on over to the *Stake Center where I found a gym full of teenagers in modest dresses and silky ties and about 6 parental couples monitoring the scene for inappropriate rubbing. I stood against the wall for two hours (kind of like I did when I was a youth at a youth dance) and made sure there were plenty of cookies on the table (although as a youth I would have been eating the cookies off of the table). It was a whole new level of hell. I mean, in my own LDS culture I'm pretty much in the same stage of dating as most of the kids are and I don't think I'm any less awkward around guys now than I was then. Also, most of the kids in that room could have been my own, if I'd gotten married and started procreating on the expected Mormon time line. It was unnerving to realize that I am officially the "old person" who walks around the room making sure everyone is at least 4 inches apart (I'm not sure why 3 isn't far enough, last time I checked 3 inches of space will keep most girls from getting pregnant). I am the "old person" who can't just walk out on the middle of the floor and cut loose to "Cotton Eyed Joe", because the only thing creepier than an old person is an old person trying to act young.
So I stood in the corner and picked up empty cups and made sure the kids took the cookie they originally touched and pondered the sometimes pathetic state of my existance.
Then I remembered: I don't have to take any of those obnoxious teenagers home with me. I don't have to talk to them about sex or help them plan their weddings. I don't have to yell at them to clean their rooms or cook them dinner. I am single...and at that moment I was glad. Glad that I could go home and stay up till 2am surfing the net, not wake up the next day till noon, and eat a breakfast of ice cream and caramel sauce. I could even leave the bowl in the sink, because I don't have to be an example to anyone when I'm at home.
Yes, sometimes being single is good...just don't ever ask me to go to another one of those stupid dances, I hated them as a teenager and I hate them now.