One of the drawbacks of Mormon Culture—a term by which I mean the culture that Mormons and Mormon-adjacent folks who live in Utah and surrounding Mormon-concentrated areas like Idaho and Arizona engage in—drawbacks of this is the expectation for a life that isn’t really based on reality. It’s an idea that if you live life like a character in a ’50’s television show, that “Aww shucks, I’m meeting Penny and Skip at the Frosty’s for a malted!” lifestyle, everything is going to turn out perfectly.
Your fellow citizens provide your laugh track, which means you need to up the hijinks every week. At first you think this Leave it to Beaver episode is going to be fun, but when you look at it through the lens of reality, you start to wonder where Mrs. Cleaver hides the hard liquor to cope. It’s only through thinking back on those formative years where I developed my tastes and preferences in dating that I can see how it really set me up to fail in finding my Perfect Mormon Husband. (Spoiler alert: I never did.)
This week’s podcast is all about the dumb, unnecessarily huge gestures that I made to woo boys, how this sets up expectations for romance that’s almost impossible to achieve, and the ultimate way for a Mormon girl to ask a boy named Joseph Smith to a dance, based off a true and amazing story. This week is brought to you by a flood of shameful and hilarious memories that I had from listening to This American Life‘s podcast about grand gestures (and if you haven’t read Elna Baker’s book, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, you should! AND SEE? I wasn’t lying about all the dances!!)