My friend Sandy and I have a theory that a thousand Mormon girl hearts have broken over the lessons that one Mr. Jack Weyland taught us as impressionable youth. Now, my good e-friend MCB has already written an extensive post about the failings of Charly, Stephanie, et al, so I won't rehash too much.
As Mormon kids, we were taught a lot of things that turned out to be ... well, "false" probably isn't the right word, but "not-quite-true"? I'm not talking about anything particularly doctrinal, I'm talking about general platitudes that teachers and youth advisors told you. For example, "People who offer you drugs are not your friends." Answer at age fifteen? "True." Answer at age twenty-six? Well, having never run into that proverbial drug dealer who wanted to get me hooked after a free taste, I must say that I have never have offered drugs by a non-friend, and am confident most of the offers I have received were suggested in good faith. So ... "Not really."
The big lesson that Sandy and I learned from Jack Weyland -- and I'm sure other girls learned as well -- was, "When you date a non-member or less active boy, he will convert/reactivate if you (a) are a good, shining, wholesome example of righteousness, and (b) you give that sneaky Holy Ghost one chance to reach his wounded heart." It usually helps if, despite his non-member/inactive status, he still basically lives all the standards a young Mormon man ought to. (I have never understood this phenomenon in Mormon youth literature. If I were not Mormon, my innate social awkwardness and sense of the romantic would keep me from being slutty, but I'm fairly sure I would be drinking copious amounts of alcohol on a regular basis.)
Anyway, getting back on track -- having grown up and gone out into the world, girls like me and Sandy have realized that this "lesson" led us to have unrealistic expectations of the boys we date. In fact, the real lesson has turned out to be, "Never, ever, ever listen to anything you learned from Jack Weyland."
I think I have learned this far more important lesson. And in general, since I date inactive boys and nonmembers in far greater frequency (topic for another post) than Mormon boys, I have had plenty of opportunities to keep my expectations of a St. Augustine/Alma the Younger moment at a rock-bottom low.
Which leads me to the tale of MysteryBoy.
MysteryBoy is some combination of inactive Mormon/generic-non-member/practicing Catholic/reform Jew/technical Muslim/cultural Buddhist/atheist/videogamer/vegan. I dated him/am dating him/will date him at some point in time. You may have even dated your own MysteryBoy.
MysteryBoy is a stud. He's smart and funny and considerate and charming and all those positive adjectives you want to be able to apply to the people you date. And the chances of MysteryBoy finding his way into the Mo-Mo fold are basically nil. Therefore, I actively did not/do not/will not expect any such change on MysteryBoy's part, and therefore will remain undisappointed when he does not. (If by some chance, however, a combination of my shining wholesomeness -- don't laugh, people who know me -- and the Holy Ghost on the top of his game DO wind up landing MysteryBoy's bottom in a wardhouse pew, I will offer Mr. Weyland my sincerest apologies.)
The funny thing is, the Weylandism pops back up when you least expect it.
On one of our dates (jeez, this past/present/future tense is hard ...), MysteryBoy and I watched a movie called Letting Go Of God. It's a one-woman play by Julia Sweeney that documents her spiritual journey through Catholicism, Eastern religions, and finally atheism, all triggered (oddly enough) by a visit from two LDS missionaries. It's actually a lot funnier and more cheerful than it sounds. I generally find atheists to be grim and (in the words of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show) "people who replace faith in God with the worship of their own smug sense of superiority." But Julia Sweeney cracked me up with her sincere, hilarious and heart-breaking tale of spiritual growth and death.
At the end of the movie, MysteryBoy looked over at me with a -- dare I say it? -- hopeful look in his eye. "Well, how did you like the movie?"
"It was really funny," I said honestly. "And she said a lot of thought-provoking things. That song at the end has gotta go, though." (So true. Just because it's a one-woman play doesn't mean you can't spring for a real songwriter, Jules.)
"Thought-provoking, huh? Did it, uh, provoke any particular thoughts?"
I couldn't help it -- I started to smile. "MysteryBoy, quick question. Did you think a two hour movie was going to make me leave Mormonism?"
"No," he said emphatically, in a tone of voice that said 90%-no-10%-yes.
"Awwwww, MysteryBoy," I said fondly. "You just got Jack Weylanded."