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Saturday, October 29, 2005 

You could meet somebody who really loves you...

Despite being born and raised (mostly) in Utah, I have attended exactly one youth dance in my entire life. It was enough.

When I was fourteen years old, we lived across the street from the Stake Center. I was still pretty young, so I didn't really pay attention to youth dances even though my dad was involved in Young Men's and was often a chaperon. One night when he was across the street chaperoning a Stake dance, a couple of my friends from school rang my doorbell. Glenn and Ross (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) had been at the dance when my father noticed them and asked them to go get me. Humiliation #1. Thanks, Dad.

As we prepared to go over to the Stake Center, I discovered that I did not have the necessary two dollars to get in. My friends had already paid their admission and gotten their hands stamped. We went up to my room to rummage through my junk drawer, trying to scare up enough change, but to no avail. What I did have was a red Magic Marker, which Glenn expertly used to create a mark on my hand. It was flawless. Our three hand-stamps were indistinguishable. We crossed the street, proud in the knowledge that we had beaten the system. I confidently strode through the packed lobby up to the desk to show my stamp and gain admission, but who should be observing the whole scene but my father. He was talking to someone, far enough away that I couldn't talk to him but close enough to see the whole thing. I put my hand back in my pocket; I couldn't show my awesome forgery without him seeing it, so I panicked. Glenn and Ross were ahead of me and we all ignored the girl with the cash box and just pushed through to the dance. "Hello? It's two dollars!" she yelled after us, but we quickly disappeared in the crowd. Humiliation #2.

The cultural hall was darker than I had ever seen it and a disco ball was hanging from the rafters. I remember distinctly that Erasure was blasting through the speakers. There were a number of people convulsing grotesquely to the music (is there any other way to dance to "Oh, L'Amour"?) but the great majority were gathered into small groups of all boys or all girls. Glenn, Ross and I staked out some ground against a wall and watched the proceedings. This is what my dad wanted me to experience? I couldn't help thinking this was a total waste of time and energy.

It didn't seem unusual at the time, but most surprising to me in hindsight is that we were approached and asked to dance several times by girls. Insecure jerks that we were, we refused all comers. At one point I said to one intrepid girl, "I'm sorry, I don't dance." Which was true, but then why was I at a dance? Ask my father. Wherever you are, girl-who-asked-me-to-dance, I'm sorry. But really, you have no idea how narrowly you escaped the trauma of witnessing my dance moves. You're welcome.

As the dance was winding down, my dad found me. "I noticed that you just kind of pushed your way in tonight."
"Well, I didn't have any money."
"Here's two dollars; make sure you pay them on the way out." Humiliation #3.

Glenn and Ross had to stick around for Ross's mom to pick them up, but I was done. I headed for the door, dreading the humiliation of explaining to the cashier why I was paying her two dollars on the way OUT of the dance. I folded up the two bills, and as I passed the table, I tossed the two dollars near the cash box without turning or slowing down. I bolted for the door as the young woman shouted after me, "thanks for the donation!" My face had turned purple by the time I reached the blessed safety of the outside air. Humiliation #4.

Soon after this incident, my family moved far away from Utah and its awkward youth dances. I can't say I was too disappointed. I am proud to report that after a few mortifying high school dances, I have succeeded in never dancing again, not even at my wedding. You're welcome.

Oh, let me tell you my dance story. I was a real ugly duckling in school and unpopular because my folks were the town drunks.

My friend talked me into going to a dance, so I got dressed up and went. I just wanted to sit and absorb and be anonymous. A few boys asked me to dance (how sweet of them, huh)and I shook my head silently. Hell, I didn't even know how to dance.

Then, my teacher, who I will never forgive, decides to up the ante. He was from the south and I was his pet project. He gets out in the middle of the gym and says, "we are having a contest. We are going to pass this broom around among the boys during this dance and the last guy with the broom gets to dance with Anne."

I had an out of body experience, I've never been so humiliated. The last boy got the broom and I don't know how I ever got up but we danced and I left and never went back.

What a jerk, huh?

Wow, Anne. What on earth was he thinking?

The only Mormon dance I went to was when I wasn't a member. I had friends that were LDS when I was a teen. A group of guys at my school had a ska band and the singer was LDS, they played a dance. As a non-member I didn't know there was a dress code. They turned me away at the door because I didn't have a dress on. So I went home and put on the tightest, skimpiest dress I owned.

Yikes, Anne. That's terrible. Some people shouldn't be allowed around kids.

You had to pay to go to a stake dance?

I've danced with my wife exactly once. Isn't that the point of getting married, so you don't have to dance anymore?

I would have paid, however, to go to a dance with both annegb and Susan M in attendance.

I grew up on Long Island and the church wasnt exactly booming out there, so attendance at dances was always pretty poor. One time a bunch of us went to one at a neighboring ward because it turned out they recently had an influx of interesting young ladies (not that we would have done anything about it). We did what most teenage males do, we acted really stupid and started slam dancing, and one of the guys crouched down low when one of the others went to slam him and the slammer went over him and landed, dislocating his shoulder. We all laughed at him. Hey, we were idiots.

Other than that, the dances were generally awful. One time they had a juke box where kids could pick whatever they wanted, and one of the records in it was "Ghostbusters" and this was an "unapproved" song because it talked about "an invisible man sleeping in my bed", so whenever it was selected this one kid, whom we all hated, would go to the jukebox and make it skip the record and go to the next one. Yes, well, you can guess what happened next. Of course, we all went over to the jukebox and selected "Ghostbusters" repeatedly all night long.

Oh, you know, he meant well. He cared about me. It was in a small Nevada town where people knew my parents were the town drunks and lowlifes. Long story. He saw that I was smart and felt sorry for me.

He did the wrong thing for the right reasons. I laugh about it now. And share it with teenage girls to let them know I relate.

I later became really cute and skinny and hot and had a blast at the single adult dances and so it was okay. I married a guy who is totally hot. Life works out.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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