Worthless dating advice

The October 2004 New Era was a special issue dedicated to marriage and dating. As a member of a singles ward, I was encouraged to read the issue, so I did. Frankly, it was to me more a source of hilarity than inspiration– probably at least in part because I was almost twice the age of their target audience. One of my roommates and I amused ourselves for a couple of hours reading our favorite passages aloud and laughing our heads off.

About this time, I was asked to contribute an anonymous advice column for our ward newsletter. So my roommate and I decided to parody an article from the New Era entitled, “How to be a first-rate date” (p34). I wrote it up, and it was published in the December 2004 issue of As the Ward Turns, the newsletter of the Longfellow Park second ward, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is re-printed here without permission from anybody. (It’s been a year or so since the last issue, and no new editor was called when the old one moved out of the ward. I don’t even know who I should ask for permission.)

Why am I reproducing this? (1) I’m lazy and this is already written. (2) I’m vain and I always thought that the column never got the attention it deserved, because it got handed out on a Sunday that half the ward was already home for the holidays. (3) I’ve seen a bit of discussion on this site and others in the Bloggernacle about the problems of unmarried Mormons, but most of the discussing seems to have been done by single women and married folks. Perhaps this post will provide an opportunity for single men to voice their unique perspective. Yay! (4) The guy who helped me think this up came out of the closet and left the church a few months afterward, so if anything offends someone, I can always blame it on him.



Belly of the Buddha

By The Belly

Some rub the belly of the buddha for good luck, some for inspiration. Let’s see what the Belly has in store for you. Send in your questions or concerns, and you are sure to get a witty, whimsical, and sometimes even wise response.

Dear Belly,
I just finished reading the October New Era, which was a special issue dedicated to the subjects of dating and marriage. Much of the counsel seemed to be geared to children who think Jessica Simpson is a musical genius. Do you have any advice for us twenty-somethings and whatever?
–Lonely Longfellow Parker

Dear Parker,
The Belly has read the same issue, and would be happy to offer some thoughts on dating tailored for our ward’s Not-So-Young Men and Women.

But first of all, let’s get something clear. If you are not happy with your level of social activity, ask someone to go do something with you. The Belly here is speaking to girls as well as boys. Yes, girls can ask boys out! Some people think that this is a violation of Mormon dating customs, but those people also are against running water and the internet. So who cares what they think?

So how do you ask someone out? More importantly, when? At BYU, the rule is to call on Tuesday for a date on Friday. But this is also a foolish tradition. Whatever day you pick to call someone up and ask them out is just fine with the Belly. Calling is better than not calling. The Belly has been told that no woman likes to feel like a second choice. But the Belly has spent a few Friday nights at home feeling like no choice at all, which is worse.

Now, when you pick up your date, you should give him or her a sincere compliment. Not only is this kind and thoughtful, it is prudent. If you have no sincere compliments, give out insincere compliments. This is arguably still kind, and is certainly still prudent.

On your date, you will be presented with many opportunities to open doors. Always remember to open doors! If you do not open these doors, you will find it very difficult to get into restaurants, movie theaters, etc.– not to mention cars. Some people like to open doors for their dates. The Belly thinks this is missing the point. It is not important who opens the doors. But it is imperative that they be opened.

When you are done having fun, you will probably escort your date back to his or her apartment. This is the moment when you say good night and then hug, awkwardly. To avoid uncomfortable doorstep scenes, the Belly recommends making out in the car until speech is no longer necessary (or possible) and then watching your date giddily stumble towards the door.

Or you could stay home and avoid the whole business entirely. You know. Like every other weekend.

15 comments for “Worthless dating advice

  1. the Belly recommends making out in the car until speech is no longer necessary (or possible) and then watching your date giddily stumble towards the door.

    LOL. I like that one! It reminds me of a poem. Blame the Victorian-Era English Literature test I took today:

    When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand,
    Either hand
    On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace
    Of my face,
    Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech
    Each on each.
    –Robert Browning, from “Love Among the Ruins”

  2. yes. but how does this advice apply in new york, where no one has a car? make out on the corner just before the doorstep? on the subway? sheesh.

  3. I have to say that singles wards for the 25-40something crowd are a LOT like junior high. I can attest as a former member of that ward for too many embarrassing years, adults are treated like teenagers by the leadership and by each other. This is only exacerbated by the church practice of running to the bishop with personal problems (in a singles’ ward, usually male/female stuff) and “indiscretions”–sexual or semi-sexual issues that no-one else has a right to know. Gossip, voyeurism, sophormoric giggles, stealth dating and hurt feelings abound in a singles ward.

    Thank the Lord I married and moved on.

  4. I live in Boston, and I don’t have a car, either. The car is a metaphor. It is a symbol for the commercialized, materialized, compartmentalized society in which we live. You can make out in a society, can’t you? Cowboy up!

  5. The funniest dating advice I ever got was from my seminary teacher. He had these large-print scriptures that he called his “dating size” scriptures. He told us (with tongue firmly in cheek) that he called them that because when you went on a date, you should bring your Book of Mormon with you and lay it on the seat the long way between the two of you, and when you got home it should not be standing up. Also, he told us it would come in handy if the guy got too “grabby”. A girl could pull out her handy Book of Mormon and say, “Let’s play scripture chase instead!” and tell him to look up Mosiah 13:3: “Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me…”

  6. John,

    I live close to Boston and I do have a car. If you want to try out that metaphor in a more concrete sense, I could swing by.

  7. Sure! Let me know next time you’re in the area and I’ll be happy to introduce you to one of my favorite restaurants. As for metaphors, well, my bishop has made me promise to draw the line at similes. But maybe we’ll get carried away in the moment.

  8. If there should be anyone reading this–particularly single women in their 30s+ living a few “faux-stone” throws made-of-styrofoam-in-a-heavy-wind away from the Empire State Building who ARE into health food and yet retain their full brain–who’d be into in discussing the similitudes in the canonical Gospel’s over a hot cuppa’ Po (er ah Postum) no later than midnight, please respond herein.

  9. the car make-out!! those are a lot of fun, and maybe if more singles actually participated in that ritual they wouldn’t be single for so long. ;)

  10. Disclaimer: Only if the expression “the GWB” conjures up an image of a famous suspension bridge would it be likely for it to be profitable for you to read further.

    OK apparently–if I’m to judge from the dearth of any immediate responses–the target area for my hook-up with you for a cuppa PO needs to be redefined. So I believe in a very heavy wind a stone-colored piece of styrofoam (See my post #11) would probably be carried as far north along Interstate 95 as a megabookstore in New Haven and as far south as one in Princeton. And on a VERY windy day, Philly, especially if there’s a cute dimpled smile involved (which impirical data indicates to often be accompanied by a gale force wind).

    Anyway, if you’ve read thus far let me go on to tell you that Interstate 95 happens to split up with Interstate 80 right here within the stunningly beautiful township (or is it a boro?) of my present digs here in Teaneck, New Joisey. And, sure, 80 continues on towards various points westward such as the land of the buffalo in Denver, the Utes in Salt Lake City and the golden bears of the University of California at Berzerkeley, but I think for practical purposes that a piece of stone-colored styrofoam thrown from the Empire State Building would travel no farther westward than the nearest megabookstore to that huge billboard in Pennsylvania advertising some kind of massage place. Has anyone seen that? Oh and I’d be willing to throw in some under-the-table foot reflexology along with the outrageously expensive piece of gourmet pastry and the herbal tea.

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