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Monday, August 10, 2009

"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

About six months ago I met my husband, Dave, for lunch at the Gateway. Afterwards, I decided to do a little shopping. Now, I don’t think I have mentioned how much I love shopping. I was raised on the basic principle that:

There isn’t a problem that can’t be solved, if the answer means there is shopping involved!!

So, I am blissfully strolling through the streets… in my element …. thinking there is nothing that could spoil this lovely day. I wander into Brighton and head straight for the jewelry. You cannot imagine the sheer pleasure I get from this display of trinkets. I am trying on an absolutely adorable charm bracelet when this woman in the store decides to LOUDLY share a story about her son leaving on his mission. She literally starts to give a speech about the event. She continues her saga and the two sales people are so entranced they are nearly moved to tears. Since I am the only other person in this very small store, they glance over in my direction waiting for me to join in on the love fest. They clearly can not figure out why I am not captivated by this story and they stare at me as if I were some kind of freak. Really!!! Don’t they notice that I am shopping here? Does religion have to follow me everywhere? Well, this little episode sends me right over the edge. I drop the bracelet, and run out of the store in tears.

Silly? You bet!

Immature? Yep!

Real? Absolutely!!!

I sat on a bench outside of Brighton for about fifteen minutes and sobbed. I felt so sad, alone, and very stupid. Why had I let this loud mouth woman intrude on my delightful shopping excursion? I have nothing against her pride in her son and his mission, but staring at me like I was from Mars was rude and mean. Well…guess what missy? In the words of the handsome and smooth Rhett Butler, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”


Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Ah well. Round up a few of female MOTs and head back there. Start a discussion about huppahs, artfully designed ketubahs, and the wonders of the pre-wedding mikvah. Get choked up as you all share your stories. Share tissues to wipe tears away. Ask the sales people where they got their katubah's designed...pull out all the stops. Toss in a bit of Yiddish, and a smattering of Hebrew, (a Brauka or two wouldn't hurt...)

Be sure to let me know when you do this. I'd love to be there to sit back and enjoy the show!

And as we used to say in Texas: Shalom, y'all!

Anonymous said...

Feel free to remove this if you feel it is "bashing" you. This was linked to someone's FB account and I found it interesting. I'm a pretty devout practicing Mormon, and I'm a student up at the U of U. I did a mission outside the country, and I lived with my wife abroad for a year or so. I suggest treating your experience more like living in a foreign country.

I read this, and I really think for an outsider, the novelty of the interesting Utah happenings is worthwhile. It is strange to see how things work in Utah. Certainly it is hard to be an outsider in a dominant culture--it can be unpleasant and frightening at times.

All I really want to say is the more you try to integrate (I'm not talking about joining the Mormon Church or anything like that.) into the culture by learning and sharing and discussing your own beliefs and thoughts, the more appreciated you will be. Certainly some (perhaps many) Mormons are narrow-minded and will never seek to understand you. That said, there are a lot of people who will find you interesting especially because you're not from the state, and you're from a different religious background.

Treat your Utah experience like living in a foreign country. Enjoy the novelty. Get frustrated sometimes. But most of all, try to always learn more about the dominant culture. If you do so, you'll at least be able to (from a distance) relate to what people are doing.

I'm glad to see PLY in the state. Lord knows we always need more upstanding people from all backgrounds. Thanks for coming, and thanks for your blog, it's been an interesting read, and hopefully it can help me to be more mindful and sensitive to those in Utah who don't share my beliefs.

jill said...

Thanks for your comment and you were not bashing. If everyone was as understanding of you, life here would be much easier. You are exactly right, my family compares our experience to being an expat. My husband has also lived abroad and is quite used to being an outsider, but even he finds this envrionment a bit repressive at times. I love Utah and its beauty, and I started to write as a kind of therapy. You wrote that reading my blog would make you more mindful and sensitive and that is just what I was hoping for from everyone. Thank you for your thoughts and keep them coming!

Elise said...

I try to lead my life in Utah without being bothered by the dominant culture, but every so often something happens that makes it hard to ignore the deliberate exclusion of we "gentiles."

One day, I had left my garage door open while I was at home, so when I left the house, a neighbor (the only one who ever spoke to me but no longer does) called me over. She told me that the police had come to their church on Sunday to tell our neighborhood that there have been some robberies - the theives particularly taking things from open garages. It occurred to this neighbor when she saw my open garage that since I don't attend her church, I may not have gotten the warning. I thanked her and then privately FUMED!

I had always considered the police to be a CIVIC organization - not a religious one. And the thought that the police would warn the LDS members of their community of impending danger, and not ALL the members was infuriating!!!

Why don't they just spray paint OUTSIDER on my house?!

Anonymous said...

I commented above, and this will come across as harsher than my last post. Delete if you like.

I didn't want to imply that only Mormons need to increase their tolerance. I've found most PLY in Utah to be wonderful, open-minded people. That doesn't mean that PLY should develop a smug sense of moral superiority--that's exactly the problem you have with many of the Mormons.

Second, I saw the comment by Elise, and I was upset as well that the police didn't warn everyone.

As far as deliberate exclusion, I think it's rarely deliberate. People don't want to actively exclude their non-mo neighbors, but they are reluctant to invite them as well.

So the intent is not to exclude, but the result is...why is this?

1) it's inconvenient to invite no-mos. It's practically like inviting a foreign language speaker to an English language party. A good share of the conversation revolves around either church topics or cultural topics that only LDS care about. They feel like they can't discuss certain topics or have to translate for those who aren't part of the culture/religion.

2) it's awkward to meet new people, and mos are used to meeting people through church. (Or church activities.) It's just so much easier for Mormons to get connected with other Mormons who are new in the neighborhood. They're a little awkward and a little nerdy.

These are a couple reasons. IT DOESN'T MAKE IT RIGHT. Mormons should be actively reaching out to those in their community all the time, and should ensure that everyone on the block regardless of who they are is at least an associate.

Mormons need to reach out to their neighbors to ensure that people aren't excluded in their communities. But frankly, a good share of mos aren't going to have the strength to reach our on their own. No mos who are interested in being integrated into their neighborhoods will need to make an effort to say hi, drop of jelly at the neighbors over the holidays, host a bbq, and do a lot of the leg work. It sucks. It's not fair, but it's reality. If you can make it easier for the mos to associate, they'll reach back. A couple will stop being as friendly when they realize that you're not interested in Mormonism, but a good few should develop into real friends.

Good luck to everyone.

jill said...

I would not delete your comment even I didn't like it. I have invited everyone to join in the conversation and I am glad you have decided to do just that. I agree with much of what you said - it wasn't harsh at all. After living here for four years, I have yet to have one mormon family invite me to their home and when I have had neighborhood parties, the mormons I know and invited did not show up. That is sad and would never happen in California. In fact, I never even knew what religion most of my neighbors (or friends for that matter) even practiced. Here everything seems to revolve around religion. I have never asked any mormon I know to defend their beliefs and yet my family and I are constantly asked to defend ours. Still, I hold out hope that we can all learn to appreciate the commonality we do have - we love our families and want happiness in our daily lives. Thanks again for participating!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Oh, I just remembered a book I think you would enjoy reading: Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America by Stephen G. Bloom. (2000) A New York Jewish family moves to Postville Iowa, home of "middle America" Christian AND a very strong Orthodox community.

Bloom found that he did not fit well in either cultures, but stayed anyway. A facinating true story of establishing ties and self examination.

jill said...

Thanks Jill. Sounds interesting - I will see if I can get it at the library.