Friday, August 3, 2012

I was about to break into a desperate fit of single virgin rage

I was on my way to Seattle and needed a book for the 7+ hours of travel I had ahead of me*. I had downloaded The Importance of Being Earnest and The War of the Worlds but as I was sitting in the airport I thought "I can't read those. I'm not in a classics mood" and I started scrolling through my "To Read" shelf on Goodreads. I came across one of the first books I added on there, Elna Baker's memoir The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance**. This was what I needed. Something light. Something funny. Something that would be good for a plane read.

The story mostly revolves around Elna's life as a Mormon living somewhere other than Utah, mostly New York City. Which just terrifies her mother.
'Elna,' she said nervously. 'The first thing that will happen when you move to New York is, you might start to swear.' I wanted to say, 'Oh shit, really?'
'And Elna,' she said, pursing her lips and looking directly into my eyes, 'what would you do if a lesbian tried to make out with you?'...'I'd say, "No, thank you...lesbian."'
Now Elna's story doesn't involve her moving to NYC and breaking away from her Mormon faith and going nuts and all that jazz. As a matter of fact, a lot of the book involves her defending her faith to people. And she does a good job, at least in my opinion. You feel her frustration with other people and her religion, but also the trust she has in her faith. And I learned little things about it.
They think I'm Mormon because I haven't read enough books yet.
Mormons don't believe in hell. We believe there are three different levels to heaven, like how they divide A-list, B-list, and C-list celebrities. 
But really the majority of the book is about Elna trying to find love. As a Mormon. In NYC. Really just finding love in general. She does make out with just, a lot of people and her drawings of who she made out with and where in Manhattan are hilarious.
Normally this [a co-worker saying he wanted to touch her boobs] would be considered sexual harassment, but since Jeff was average cute, I let it slide. The whole "Attractive Boy + Sexual Repression = Ethical Hypocrisy" equation.
when you're in a relationship without the possibility of sex it feels more like you're flirting with your personal assistant. 
The book is very funny. I found myself smirking a few times, though never outright laughing out loud. Of course part of that could be I was reading it on a plane and trying not bug too many people. But this wasn't my most favorite memoir. Maybe because I recently read the last memoir I read was The Bloggess one which had me crying I was laughing so hard. Maybe because I read the book all at once so I didn't have a chance to let it sink in. Maybe because I didn't have the same very religious upbringing so I didn't relate all that much. Whatever the reason, very funny book that I'm glad I read but (sorry Alice) not one of my most favorite books ever.

Update: I have left out a part of the book that doesn't really fit in with the main stuff (being Mormon, looking for love, living in NYC while being Mormon and looking for love, etc) but it was one of the best parts. For awhile Elna worked at FAO Schwartz in the section selling crazy expensive baby dolls of some certain type that I could look up but I'm lazy and won't. The dolls were featured on some realty show (again, could look up, but not) and got super popular and ALL the rich NYC ladies had to get them for their daughters. Specifically had to get the white babies, which the store sold out of. There were rows of Asian, Hispanic and Black babies but these people didn't want them. I mean what would the neighbors think?? (Seriously, one lady asked Elna this when she suggested the woman buy one of the Hispanic babies instead of waiting for a new shipment of the white ones to come in.) So yeah, it's mostly Mormon trying to find love in NYC, but also stuff like this sprinkled in as well.

*It was significantly cheaper to get to Seattle from New York by transferring in Dallas. I don't know why. That makes no sense, but that's what happened.
**Every time I write out that title I have to look it up. If I don't, I leave out an adjective.

Title quote from page 213, location 3306

Baker, Elna. The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir. Dutton Adult, 2009. Kindle edition.