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I have followed the BYU Title IX fiasco, i.e. story, with interest. That’s about the most neutral way I can put it.

I should probably make two things clear from the outset. The first thing is that I’m not a fan of using Title IX to adjudicate sexual assault cases on college campuses. There’s a reason rape is a crime, and there’s also a reason criminals have rights. Does this mean that rapists sometimes go unpunished? Yes. Burglars, muggers, drug dealers, and even murderers also sometimes go unpunished. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when citizens have rights and governments have the burden of proving that you committed a crime before they throw you in prison or otherwise ruin your life. Private institutions can do what they like, of course—but Title IX isn’t a private institution. It’s the law. That’s worth remembering. I believe that sexual assault cases should be handled by the criminal justice system. But I also believe that BYU has moral obligations to its students who are victims of sexual assault. If its failure to fulfill these obligations happens to violate Title IX, that is one thing. We could argue all day about Title IX. But that’s not on my list of things to do today.

The second thing I’m going to admit is that I’m not a fan of BYU’s Honor Code. It’s not that I think the standards are too high. To be sure, I think some of them—e.g. the prohibition on beards and the micromanagement of students’ sartorial choices—are too silly, but BYU is a private institution and can do what it likes. (I’m a big fan of private institutions being allowed to do what they like.) My argument is not with the standards themselves but with the perverse incentives and disincentives that strict enforcement of the Honor Code creates. If you need an ecclesiastical endorsement signed by your bishop to remain in school, it can discourage you from seeking pastoral care when you may need it most. And if you’ve been sexually assaulted and the story of your sexual assault involves an Honor Code violation on your part (even tangentially), or if a violation may be inferred from the circumstances (even without evidence), it can put you in the position of choosing to press charges against your rapist or to stay in school. That’s not a position anyone should have to be in. It’s reasonable to argue that a student signs a contract and should be expected to live up to the contract. I can’t argue with that. My argument is with the terms of the contract itself.

I agree that a lot of the discussion around this topic has been unproductive, due to people’s visceral instincts to slam BYU (and by extension the church) or to defend BYU (and by extension the church). And as many feelings and thoughts as I have on this issue, I’ve not been eager to talk about it publicly because I don’t have any desire to contribute to unproductive discussions. (Lately, I mean.) I understand the reluctance to alter BYU’s Honor Code, which appears to have served BYU and most of its students just fine for decades, and specifically reluctance to make exceptions, even for alleged victims. But there are two arguments against making such exceptions that need to be addressed.

It is interesting how many people argue that the Honor Code dramatically reduces a BYU student’s risk of being raped. (A representative example can be found here.) It is true that there are some high-risk situations that a person following the Honor Code would be unlikely to find themselves in. I’m the first person to advise young women—or anyone, really—against deliberately intoxicating themselves. You cannot argue that remaining sober does not put you at a distinct advantage in life; you are at far lower risk of being a victim of anything if you aren’t unconscious or similarly impaired. As victim-blamey as some people think that is, I will say that all day long and not apologize for it. (If that sounds familiar, I learned from the best.) However, no one should be under the illusion that refraining from alcohol or other mind-altering substances—or following any aspect of the Honor Code whatsoever–keeps you “safe” from sexual assault. Plenty of people are raped while sober, in their own apartments, in the middle of the day, in places and at times and under circumstances where they “should” have been perfectly safe. The Honor Code is in no way a protection against being raped, nor is it intended to be. The Honor Code is designed to discourage you from doing x, y, z (and probably a-k and m, p, t & w) and to cultivate a wholesome environment and image for BYU. Period. That is a fine goal in and of itself. But it was not intended nor designed to protect anyone from sexual assault—and it won’t.

What is really interesting is that many of the same people who argue that the Honor Code makes BYU students safe(r) from rape also argue that giving rape victims Honor Code immunity will encourage people to make false accusations of rape in order to avoid punishment for consensual sex. Unlike the risk of being raped—which isn’t particularly affected by the Honor Code—the risk of being falsely accused of rape actually is significantly reduced by following the Honor Code. If you never have consensual sex with someone, it is highly unlikely someone will claim that your non-existent consensual sex was rape in order to avoid getting punished for something that never happened. But what are people worried about, if rape victims receive Honor Code immunity? False accusations against students who engaged in consensual sex. So what happened to the ”safety” of the Honor Code? It is hard not to infer that rape prevention is meant to be primarily a burden on women.

Rape, of course, is not explicitly mentioned in the Honor Code. But people take what is mentioned in the Honor Code and apply it exclusively in terms of a woman’s responsibility to avoid her own rape. Imagine if the well-intentioned advice about preventing rape went like this:

Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol consumption is highly correlated with sexual assault. You are more likely to rape someone if your judgment has been impaired by alcohol. Your inhibitions will be lowered, and you may not be able to tell if your partner is fully willing or not.

Don’t be alone with a woman. Whether in your own apartment or hers, or in the back of a car in a secluded location, it is never safe to be alone with a member of the opposite sex. You are much more likely to rape someone when there aren’t any witnesses.

Be aware of the signals you are sending. Are you communicating clearly with your partner that you intend to have sex with her, regardless of what her personal wishes are? Or are you giving her the impression, even inadvertently, that you care about her feelings and that she can trust you? Be clear about your expectations. Don’t act like you’re not going to rape her and then change your mind halfway through.

If you’re thinking, “This is ridiculous. Rapists aren’t going to pay any attention to this advice,” you’re beginning to see my point, even if you don’t know it yet.

The Honor Code shouldn’t be seen as a “safety” issue at all. Whether or not it was “smart” or “showed good judgment” to drink or do drugs has no bearing on whether or not someone was in fact raped. I would advise everyone I know to do what they can to stay out of prison, as there’s no question that staying out of prison significantly reduces your chances of being sexually assaulted. However, being raped isn’t something that you should just “expect” to happen when you are incarcerated because hey, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. I don’t care what you’re in prison for, or whether you’re guilty or innocent: other people don’t get to rape you because you’re in prison. Rape is a crime, and it’s evil. It is not a “natural consequence” of your own poor choices, even if your “poor choices” include felonies. Your risk of sexual assault is directly related not to your compliance with the Honor Code but your proximity to someone who is willing to rape you. People should always be safe from sexual assault because sexual assault should never happen.

But of course it does. Not because victims do something wrong or stupid or inadvisable, but because rapists do something wrong, i.e. they rape people. In a perfect world, people should be able to go anywhere or do anything without fear of being assaulted, robbed, murdered, or harmed in any way, but that is not the world we live in. So does it make sense to take precautions in an imperfect world? Yes. Please do take precautions, by all means. Don’t tattoo your Social Security number on your forehead. Don’t give your credit card numbers to Nigerian royalty. Keep your drink in sight at all times. Avoid driving at night after the bars close. Never follow a hippie to a second location. But negotiating risk—deciding for oneself which risks one is willing to take under what circumstances–is not the same as being responsible for creating risk. People have the right to walk alone at night, even in a bad part of town, without being assaulted. That is a right because assault is a crime. We think differently about rape than we do about other crimes because of the emotions and vulnerabilities associated with sex. In some ways this is proper; rape is an especially heinous crime because of the emotions and vulnerabilities associated with sex. However, we must not let our treatment of rape victims be influenced by cultural attitudes and beliefs about sex that may be false, unhealthy, or otherwise harmful. Unfortunately, women are more likely to be victims both of rape and of harmful cultural attitudes about sex. And that is especially bad news for Mormon women at BYU.

I don’t know yet. In January 2014 I wrote two posts. Can I break that record for January 2015? I think I can. I know, that’s big talk for someone who only has nine days left in the month, but what can I say? I’m feeling cocky.

Shall we make it more interesting? In all of 2014 I wrote fifteen posts. Can I break that record? Can I double it? Can I triple it? Is there any limit to how much better a blogger I can be in 2015 than I was in 2014? I think not.

Here are some things that have happened so far in 2015:

* I decided to give up my housekeepers in favor of having my kids clean the house. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking one of three things:

1. “Have you adopted new kids?”

2. “What’s the matter with you?”

3. “What took you so long?”

The answer to #1 is no, I still just have the original kids, and no, they haven’t undergone radical personality and temperament changes recently. But I was getting tired of the fortnightly stress of clearing all my surfaces in preparation of having them cleaned professionally. Plus, Sugar Daddy and I have noticed that the quality of the work has gone down over the years. Not that I blame the housekeepers for losing their motivation to make everything sparkly. I lost the will to clean my house just a few short months after we bought it. Why should a total stranger have more incentive than I? Plus, they can probably be forgiven for thinking we wouldn’t notice. There are six of us here and we’re obviously slobs. Sometimes there is ketchup on the wall. Not that the housekeepers have ever tried to wash my walls, but when you see a thing like that, you might think, “Why do I even bother?” I mean, that’s what I think just about every day of my life.

So it got to the point where I figured it wasn’t worth the money or the hassle, and SD hit upon the perfect incentive to get the kids on board with our new plan. If they do all their chores, we’ll take them out to dinner. If they don’t do their chores, he’ll take me out to dinner and they can stay home and eat macaroni and cheese. Now, my kids happen to like macaroni and cheese, especially if it’s out of a box, but what they don’t like is knowing that they could be out eating at a restaurant but they’re not. My kids are such entitled narcissists. It’s about time I used it for my advantage. Unfortunately, I had heretofore been unable to think of something they would want more than to sit on their fat cans playing video games. Money means relatively little to them. They like money, of course, but they don’t need money. They know we’re going to feed and clothe them regardless of what they do. Even if I decided to get all hardass and tell them they’d have to start paying for their own food and clothing, they’d starve and go naked just to spite me. Then CPS would come knocking on my door, just when I’d finally gotten them to leave me alone. But they love food, especially when it’s not cooked by me. SD has promised them that the quality of their dinner will match the quality of their housecleaning efforts, so we’ll see how much fine dining we end up doing.

The first week we went without the housekeepers, I decided to do the cleaning myself, just so I could get a handle on what all the jobs were and figure out what I could realistically expect the children to do. Oh, boy, never again. I’d forgotten how much it sucks to clean the bathtub and shower. I mean, I remembered that it sucked, but I’d forgotten just how much. This was definitely going to be a job for someone not me. I spread the cleaning out over a couple of days, which was actually much less stressful than prepping the house for the housekeepers to do it on the designated day. (That was another annoying thing–they were very unpredictable; they always came on a Wednesday, but it could be at 8:30 a.m. or 4:30 p.m., you just never knew.) Vacuuming was also much tiring than I remembered. I mean, I had certainly vacuumed in between housekeeping visits, but only quick jobs, and only downstairs. Vacuuming one’s entire house properly is rather a workout. I suppose it doesn’t help that my vacuum weighs about six hundred pounds. That might be an exaggeration. I’ve never been very good at estimating.

Anyway, I’m getting off the subject. This week was the first week the kids have had their new chores. So far everyone has completed theirs except for Mister Bubby, which is typical. In his defense, he doesn’t get home from school until after 4 p.m. and he had to go to his church group Tuesday evening, and he had jazz band until 5 p.m. Wednesday, and it is finals week. In his non-defense, he had Monday off school and spent the day playing Super Smash Bros., so whatever. And tonight he has a trombone lesson. Oh, well.

That was a long bullet point. The others will be shorter, I’m sure.

Just in case you’ve forgotten, the topic is what has happened in 2015 so far.

* I cleaned my kitchen floor today. You might think this should fall under the housekeeping section, but it’s actually something quite spectacular and special. This is one of the things that the housekeepers never did very well. It wasn’t really their fault; they were probably used to mopping floors that actually come clean with mere mopping. Our kitchen floor is the original linoleum–or vinyl, I guess, not linoleum–that went down in 1987, so you can imagine what sort of shape it’s in. Now imagine something worse than that. That’s our floor. It has absolutely no protective coating left, so you have to use a great deal of elbow grease to get dirt and food stains off. If there’s one thing my housekeepers aren’t contracted to do, it’s use elbow grease. At least not on kitchen floors that don’t appear to be worth saving. But whatever. Who am I to complain when I can’t be bothered to do it myself? Except I did do it myself today, after I had already worked up a good sweat vacuuming my entire house (with a 600 lb. vacuum). I had to get down on my hands and knees and use a scrub brush. I’d scrub off the first layer of dirt, mop it away, and then get to work on the second layer of dirt. It was tedious. But the floor is as clean now as it’s bound to get, ever. Do I want to give this job to someone else? Yes, very much so. But let’s be realistic.

Will the kitchen floor get scrubbed again in 2015? It remains to be seen.

* I taught Sunday school to a bunch of teenage boys for a couple weeks. For the past three years SD has been our ward Sunday school president, and last month they made him the stake Sunday school president, so technically he’s not in charge of Sunday school at the ward level, but the new ward Sunday school president was out of town for a couple weeks, so SD was continuing to take responsibility for the ward Sunday school classes, and since they were short a couple of teachers and SD couldn’t take any of the classes himself (as he used to do) because he was gallivanting around the stake teaching other wards’ Sunday schools, he volunteered me as a substitute. That was kind of him. Well, he told me I could say no, but I didn’t, so there I was.

It was actually a very nice group of fifteen-year-old boys. I had never taught that age group before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Don’t worry, I didn’t try to be cool or anything. I’m not a complete idiot. The new Sunday school curriculum is pretty bare bones. It’s supposed to encourage discussion. Unfortunately, this was a rather quiet bunch of fifteen-year-old boys, and I’m a quiet 43-year-old woman. I’m not very good at facilitating discussions under the best of circumstances. But it wasn’t a complete disaster. That was due mostly, I think, to the boys being such good boys. I noticed that this one boy kept turning to the guy next to him and showing him his phone and they were sort of whispering together, or whatever the masculine equivalent of whispering is, and I figured they were just discreetly distracting themselves from a very dull Sunday school lesson. As a Sunday school teacher, all I really ask of my students is that they be discreet while they’re ignoring the lesson, so I wasn’t upset or anything, but then I happened to hear what they were saying, and they were actually talking about the lesson. I won’t lie to you. It kind of freaked me out.

* Also while my husband was off gallivanting about the stake performing Sunday school responsibilities, all of the ward organists got sick or were out of town. Since my husband is one of the ward organists and was not sick or out of town but otherwise indisposed (see: gallivanting, responsibilities thereof) but nevertheless felt obligated to fix this problem, he volunteered me to play piano for sacrament meeting (since I don’t know how to play the organ and indeed have never so much as touched an organ with intent, so a public meeting wouldn’t be the best place for me to start). I don’t ever mind playing the piano. I am competent enough that I don’t embarrass myself, but people are used to having the organ, so I felt very conspicuous. Well, beggars can’t be choosers. Everyone just had to deal with the situation.

The opening hymn was “I Believe in Christ,” which those of you who are Mormons know is the longest hymn ever written and is only bearable when it’s played at a brisk tempo. I prefer to think of it as a joyous tempo, myself. I mean, do you believe in Christ or not? Then let’s get on with it. Those of you who are Mormons also know that most Mormon congregations have never met a hymn they didn’t want to sing at half-speed. Maybe this is true of other churches too, I wouldn’t know. But SD has always insisted that no matter what tempo he and the music director start a song at, the congregation ends up slowing it down; it’s unavoidable. I never had reason to doubt him, but after my experience on Sunday, I knew exactly what he meant. It’s like the lotus-eaters out there. It’s very difficult not to succumb. But I have very strong feelings about the proper tempo of “I Believe in Christ,” so I persevered in my resistance, refused to fall asleep at the keyboard, and finished about 30 seconds before the congregation did. I’m just kidding. I made them work for it, though. Keep up or be left behind, kids! Piano players can get away with crap like that. #StandingForSomething

* I actually haven’t done very much in January, and not much has happened to me. And now I have to take my kids to Grandma’s house for dinner. Gentle readers, adieu.

Every Friday Mister Bubby’s teacher sends home the “Friday Folder,” which includes a sheet that tells me if MB is missing any assignments and has a note from MB about “one thing I learned or enjoyed doing this week.”  I give you this week’s note:

One thing I learned or enjoyed doing this week was…“doing the MVEMJSUN poem.  My poem was My very evil moose just sucked up nosehair.  It was tons of fun and laughter.”

He is both his father’s and mother’s son.  I’ll let you figure out which part is which.

Last week I met with a counselor in our bishopric.  He said they wanted to extend a new calling to me at church.  (A “calling” is a job.)  Now I’m going to bore all of my LDS readers by explaining to all of my not-LDS readers how Mormon congregations are organized into “wards” and a whole bunch of wards make up a “stake,” and recently our stake decided to take three wards and turn them into four wards, which resulted in a significant diminishing of the adult population in our ward.  The child (under 12) population remains very, very large.  The significance of this will be clear shortly.  Anyway, since Mormons have a lay ministry, for the last several weeks the leadership has been scrambling to fill the vacancies that the reorganization has left us with.

SO–going into this meeting, I knew a couple of things:  1)  Just about every vacancy had been filled, except for a few in the Primary (children’s Sunday School), where we have tons and tons of children (about 140 or so–which may be nothing for evangelical mega-churches, for all I know, but by Mormon ward standards it is pretty freaking huge), and the building library (where I used to work).  2)  Since I’d worked in the library before, they were unlikely to ask me to work there again.  You don’t usually get asked to work in the library more than once in your lifetime–mainly because that’s usually where they send people to die.  (Obviously, I survived the library.  But just barely.  They extracted me to put me in another job where I could do even less damage and interact with even fewer people.  But that’s another story.)  This could only mean one thing.  Well, technically two things.

1)  They were going to ask me to be a Primary teacher.

2)  They were probably going to ask me to teach Primary with my husband, who has been teaching the 6-year-olds for the last three or four years (in addition to directing the ward choir and being a part-time ward organist–he’s an overachiever).  Because…

You know, I was going to explain it, but it’s not worth it.  Suffice it to say that I was prescient because what I thought they were going to do was exactly what they did.

I want to tell you that in all my years of church service, there have been many callings that I was not remotely enthusiastic about, but I have never said no.  There have been a couple of jobs I’ve done so poorly that my leaders repented of ever asking me and expeditiously moved me to some other place in the organization where I could do less damage and interact with fewer people.  But historically speaking, when someone asks me to do a job, I do not refuse.  It is partly because I have a problem saying no–but it’s also because I realize that in our church, there is only so much competence to spread around, and the church relies on the willingness of warm bodies to do things they don’t enjoy and may even suck at, just so their programs can keep going.  There is a less cynical way to word this, but I forget what it is.  Anyway, that is the context I wanted to give you:  I never say no.

Until last week, when the bishopric counselor told me what they wanted me to do and asked me what I thought about that idea (or words to that effect).  And I said, “I’m going to be perfectly honest with you.  I don’t like the idea at all.”  And the poor counselor was like, “Wow.  Really.”    He had no idea what to do with this information.  I can only imagine what must have been going through his head.  Fortunately, being the sort of person I am, I immediately felt the need to explain myself.

It’s not that I don’t like Primary.  I have several (past) years of Primary service under my belt.  Mostly as a pianist, but also short stints as a music leader and a teacher.  I enjoy being in Primary inasmuch as I enjoy being around children.  I don’t particularly enjoy being responsible for children.  Music leader is okay because while there’s more interaction with the children than you have as a pianist (for obvious reasons), you only have to teach them to sing songs.  So you’re up in front of a group of 20-60 children, acting like a fool and trying to get their attention, but there are a bunch of other adults in the room who are responsible for making sure they don’t start fistfights with their neighbors or indecently expose themselves.  (You see a lot from the front of the room that you’d just as soon not see.  But that’s another story.)  All you have to do is put on the dog and pony show.

Being a Primary teacher means that for one hour you are in a big room where you have “sharing time” and “singing time” and you have to make sure your group of sweethearts aren’t acting up or indecently exposing themselves (note:  this latter one doesn’t really happen that often–it’s just not a thing one ever forgets), and then for another hour you are in a very small room where it’s just you and your group of kids and you’re expected not only to teach them something but also to make sure they don’t get so noisy that they disturb the class in the tiny room next door and that they don’t start fights with each other and they don’t try to leave the room unsupervised and hopefully no one starts crying, but if someone does, you should do something about it.  I’m no good at this stuff.

It’s not that I don’t like children.  Did I already say that?  I used to not like children, before I had children of my own.  Now I like children.  I like children even more  now that I know I’m not going to have any more of my own.  I can’t explain it, it’s just true!  But children don’t like me.  I can’t say I blame them.  Most adults aren’t that comfortable with me, either.  I used to not understand this, until I realized that I have a condition known as Chronic Bitch Face.  Historically people have told me that I don’t smile enough, i.e. at all.  It’s true, I’m not a smiler.  But I don’t know many people who smile all the time.  I’ve watched people on the streets and in stores and even at church, and I see very, very few people smiling at all times.  But apparently my “neutral” face is far more offensive to humans than the average “neutral” face.  (I’m not sure about its effect on animals, since I purposely avoid contact with animals if possible.)

But it’s not that I’m unwilling to teach Primary.  It’s not my favorite thing on earth, but as I said, I like children (as a casual observer), and I have taught Primary and I do teach Primary (as a substitute), and it isn’t horrible…except for that one time a bunch of five-year-old made me cry.  (In my defense, it was a long time ago, and there were ten of them.)  My feelings about teaching Primary weren’t the main reason I told the counselor I hated the idea.  I may be an awful Primary teacher, but I’m willing to be awful for the Kingdom’s sake.  I know how important a warm body is.

The problem is this:  My husband is a great Primary teacher.  He’s a great Primary teacher because he’s a great teacher period–he started out wanting to teach for a living, until the lure of Corporate America and its Salaries You Can Raise a Family On proved too difficult to resist[1]–and also because, for some strange reason, kids like him.  (Apparently he doesn’t have a bitch face.)  I am proud of my husband’s talents and skills.  I don’t think that I feel a sense of competition with him–but I think that is mainly because I don’t spend a lot of time sucking at stuff in the same room where he is being brilliant at it.  Am I out there running scientific experiments and developing processes for manufacturing superconductors?  No.  Am I out there earning a living?  No.  Do I move heavy furniture?  Only when he makes me.  So, yeah, maybe you can understand my hesitation to join a team with only two members where I’m destined to be the weakest link.

The counselor didn’t really understand–or rather, he thought I was just being modest–or rather, having a self-esteem problem.  He may have been right–well, of course he was–but sometimes self-esteem problems are based on fact.  I rather pride myself on basing my poor self-image on facts.  (It is one of the things I do well–how dare he try to take that away from me?)  But whatever.  Long story attempted to make short but failed, I ended up feeling so guilty (another thing I’m good at) about saying no that I finally told him I’d think about it.  And I did think about it.  I thought about it a lot.  I thought about it more than I wanted to.  And the more I thought about it, the more it became like my decision to have a fourth child–I got so tired of thinking about it that I decided to just go ahead and do it, even if it was wrong, just so I could stop thinking about it.

So now I’m team-teaching a bunch of 6-year-olds at church with my husband.  At least six-year-olds have never made me cry.  (Except for the ones who were related to me.)

.

[1] Also, he discovered that he doesn’t like grading papers.

First of all, I trust all you gentle readers had a good Christmas, or, if you do not celebrate Christmas, that you had a good December 25 anyway.  Maybe it wasn’t so good if you wanted to go out to dinner or buy something at the grocery store and had to make do with whatever was available at the Rite Aid or the 7-Eleven, but hopefully that was not the case.  Anyway, where was I?  Oh, the niceties.  Yes, I hope your Christmas was as enjoyable as mine was.  Heck, I hope it was even more enjoyable, because it costs me nothing to wish you better fortune than I myself receive, though I myself received plenty.  Of good fortune.  So I can afford not to be bitter over how much better your life is than mine because I have nothing to complain about in the first place.* *Except what I might complain about over the course of this blog post, but even those complaints are relatively trivial and not to be taken seriously.

Now that manners and boilerplate are out of the way, let me tell you what’s rendering me perturbed at the moment.

1.  I’m beginning to think that it would be worth the $15,000-30,000 to have our windows replaced just to get the window salesmen to stop coming around here.  I’m not a fan of the door-to-door sales thing.  I’m especially not a fan of the door-to-door sales thing that poses as a non-sales thing.  “First of all, I’m not here to sell you anything.”  Well, if you’re not here to sell me something, why are you bothering me?  What’s in it for you?  Can’t we just be adults about this?  But that’s neither here nor there.  The main reason I don’t like the door-to-door sales thing is not because it’s irritating but because I hate saying “no.”  Not to kids.  No, I love saying “no” to my kids.  But to perfect strangers who never did me any harm and are only trying to make a living?  Gosh, that just breaks my freaking heart.  But I resent the heartbreak, gentle readers.  I resent feeling obligated to buy stuff I don’t need, and I resent feeling guilty about not buying it, so there’s no way I can win in this scenario.  I resent innocent people coming to my door and forcing me into a no-win situation.  And during the Christmas season, too.  Bastards.

And that is why I don’t like door-to-door sales.

It’s an embarrassing position to be in, incidentally–a Mormon who opposes door-to-door sales.  Don’t think I don’t grasp the irony.  But personally, I would much rather see Jehovah’s Witnesses on my porch than window salespersons.  I don’t feel guilty telling the Jehovah’s Witnesses that I’m not interested.  It’s not like their livelihood depends on me becoming a Jehovah’s Witness.  They’re not going to walk away sad about anything except that I’m going to hell.  I can handle that.  Not that I’ve ever had to tell a Jehovah’s Witness I wasn’t interested.  I’ve never had a Jehovah’s Witness be that direct with me.  Maybe it’s the region of the country I live in.  Maybe they’re just grateful when you don’t yell at them.  All I’m saying is I get the sense they’re not really in it to win it.  One of the important differences between Mormon missionaries and Jehovah’s Witnesses, incidentally.

The question is whether window salespersons are more like Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Mormons tend to travel by bike, whereas the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the window salespersons tend to travel by foot.  Mormons and window salespersons have little name tags.  Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have name tags.  Mormons travel in single-sex pairs.  Jehovah’s Witnesses and window salespersons can travel in mixed-gender groups.  But the most important things that they all have in common are that they show up on your doorstep unwanted and none of them are real Christians.* *According to the pamphlets I’ve read.

2.  It’s time for my annual angst over a holiday bonus/tip for the housekeepers.  I will have to tell it in novel form.

I hired a cleaning service in 2007.  When they started, it was always the same team that came.  If it wasn’t the exact same set of ladies each time, at least one of them was consistently there each visit.  They did a great job.  In September of that year the house caught on fire and since we weren’t living in the house anymore, we stopped the cleaning service.  We opted not to use it at our rental and just clean it our damn selves, since we were hemorrhaging cash at the time.

We did hire the same service to do a move-out clean of said rental in December–specifically December 31.  I’m pretty sure I blogged an angry blog about that experience at the time.  How may I put it succinctly?  We hired them to clean the rental.  Someone put in the wrong code and the housekeeping team (a different one, not the old one) showed up at our real house, which we were in the process of moving back into and which was therefore filled with boxes and all manner of other crap.  Finding the house in this condition, the housekeepers did not clean it (though they were nice enough to leave a note about getting the house ready for cleaning and re-scheduling for another time).  I will leave out the part where I was livid whilst spending several hours trying to get hold of a supervisor who would take my call and believe that they had sent the team to the wrong house.  At 4:30 p.m. I (miraculously, still don’t know how it happened, in retrospect) got a supervisor to understand that an error had been made.  Not that she admitted it was an error.  I’m leaving out the part where she was a bitch, pardon my francais. Anyway, she sent a team over to clean the (correct) house, which they did, albeit not very carefully, for which I can’t completely blame them, for they were being asked unexpectedly to do a move-out clean at the last minute on a major holiday eve.  Whatever.  None of what made me really angry was the fault of the housekeepers themselves, but that’s just the background you need for the following.

When we resumed the housekeeping service in January 2008, a new team started coming to the house.  They weren’t quite as good as the old housekeepers, and frankly, they were a bit surly–which was fine, actually, because it’s not like I’m a big box of giggles myself.  At any rate, they lasted three or four visits, and then a different team started coming, and that is pretty much how it’s been ever since.  I have never had the same people cleaning my house for more than a couple visits in a row.  Often it’s a different team from visit to visit; generally, they do a fine job, but some are better than others.  In any case, they’re all doing a job I don’t like to do myself, so I can’t bring myself to complain.

This is all very nouveau riche and gauche of me, but I’ve had conflicting advice about whether or not I should be tipping/bonusing the housekeepers at the holidays.  As of now, I have had the same team cleaning my house for the last five or six cleans.  That is a record for the post-fire era.  They do a very good job.  I would like to give them a holiday thank-you.  However, historically, there has been no guarantee that I will have the same housekeepers from one visit to the next, especially not around the holidays, so if I leave something extra for the cleaning crew, it may very well go to some strangers I’ve never seen before who may or may not do a great job.  Some people say if you have a service that doesn’t send the same people every time, such niceties as holiday bonuses and tips are unnecessary.  Other people (I suspect former housekeepers) say that you should especially tip people who work for a service and you should do it every time, not just at Christmas.

Well, half the time I don’t even see my housekeepers, so I don’t know if they’re going to be the usual people until after they’ve been here and leave the receipt that says, “Your house was professionally cleaned by Team #Whatever aka Lexi and America (or Whoever),” and I certainly don’t know in advance if the new team is going to do as good a job as the last team did.  However, I suppose that if I’m going to get all philosophical about it, everyone could use a bonus at the end of the year and why should I be so concerned about whether it’s Team #Last5or6Times or Team #WhoKnows?  Hence, the angst.

3.  There’s a lot of fudge lying around here that lends itself very well to being eaten by yours truly.  I felt so guilty about the amount of fudge I ate yesterday that I went out to the (freezing cold) garage last night and rode the exercise bike and worked off nearly three-quarters of a piece worth of fudge.  Whee.  That’s serious.  Fudge has a lot of calories.  I would probably have to ride the exercise bike continuously between now and next February to come out ahead, but that’s neither here nor there.  The point is that there’s a lot of fudge-eating going on by one particular human being in the house, and it bodes ill for the coming year.  That’s all.

Now there’s really nothing to talk about.  The Oregon gubernatorial election is finally over.  We were trending red right up until they started counting Multnomah County–you know, where all the people live.  Then the world turned rightside-up again and here we are, staring at John Kitzhaber’s creepy mustache for the next four years.  Well, let’s face it, the next eight.  Then he can take a seven-year sabbatical and run for governor again in 2025.  He’ll only be 78 years old.  I just realized he’s the same age as my dad.  My dad doesn’t have a creepy mustache, though.

Not anymore, anyway.  Do you know that when I was a young child, my father did have a creepy mustache?  Of course you didn’t know that because I’ve never told you.  (Of course, if you are related to me and, say, have the same dad I do, of course you knew that because you have pictures to prove it.  But that’s neither here nor there.  I’m telling a story, and you’re spoiling my folsky-yet-incoherent introduction.)  When I was born, my father was in the military (not on purpose–they drafted him), so he had to keep his hair short and be clean-shaven.  My father hated the military and he hated all the rules associated therewith, so as soon as he was discharged, he grew his hair long and also grew a mustache and beard.  I’ve seen pictures of that era.  He looked like a damn hippy.  Actually, the most famous picture of him during that era had him wearing his sister’s wig, but that’s another story–one that I, unfortunately, don’t have all the details on.  So just forget I said anything.

Anyway.  Eventually my father shaved off his beard, but he kept his mustache.  Not sure why.  Probably just because it was the ’70s.  (Shrug.)  It was a big bushy red mustache.  My father is a natural brunette like me–or was, before his hair turned gray and I started dying mine–but his facial hair, for some reason, was reddish.  If you want to consult this chart, it most closely resembled the Jose Bove.  So when I was a young girl, my dad had a mustache.  UNTIL one fateful day, when I was, I dunno, five? he got called to serve as a counselor in the bishopric at church, and he had to shave it off.

Mormons have this thing about facial hair–or at least they have since, I dunno, that era of the damn hippy.  We started out a bunch of beard-wearing polygamists–well, the men were; not much documentation of women wearing beards, much less taking spare wives, but that’s not my point–but in the twentieth century we were mainstreaming, so to set ourselves apart from the counterculture, we decided the righteous thing to do would be to have everyone shave.  (Except for the womenfolk, who bleached.  Ha ha.  Well, they did!)  Sure, some people still kept their facial hair, but men in leadership positions were almost always clean-shaven.  They still are, actually.  You can’t have a beard or mustache at BYU, unless you have a medical condition that prohibits you from shaving and have applied for a “beard card.”  Or unless you are a woman, but again, that’s off my point.  What is my point?  Oh, yeah, I’m telling a story.

So my dad gets called to the bishopric and he has to shave off his mustache.  As my mother told the story, it was Saturday night and they were talking and paying bills or some such thing, and my dad left the room at one point, and when he walked back in, the mustache was gone.  She was very surprised.  I think she knew he had to shave it, but she wasn’t expecting him to just do it right then.  Anyway, the next morning he had to go to church early because that’s what bishopric guys do, so he left way before the rest of the family and none of the rest of us knew that he’d shaved off his mustache.

So we’re at church and they announce the new bishopric, and there’s my dad up on the stand behind the pulpit–or at least the cat they say is my dad.  I’m not quite sure I believe it because my dad has a mustache, and this is some smooth-faced freak I’ve never met.  Seriously, I couldn’t stand to look at him the whole time we were at church.  He just looked WEIRD.  I don’t remember when I started looking at him again, but the good news is that it didn’t really take me that long to get used to it (kids are resilient, you know), and my father has never worn a mustache since.  Not because he thinks it’s unrighteous, but…actually, I have no idea why he’s never grown one again.  I think my mother might have preferred him without the mustache, since she said he was always getting food in it and crap.  And I have to say, he does look much better without one.

Generally, I prefer my men clean-shaven.  It may be a cultural bias, but whatever.  That’s me.  I think most men look better without facial hair than with facial hair, but I acknowledge that there are certain men who do look better with a mustache.  Arsenio Hall, for one.  Um…I’m trying to think of another.  Michael Gross–way better looking with the beard and mustache.  Let’s see…goodness, who else?  NOT Joaquin Phoenix.  NOT Brad Pitt.  But the list of NOTS is so long, I should probably not start.  Plenty of people I know in real life but you have no idea who they are, so it doesn’t merit discussion in this venue.  Anyway, it doesn’t matter.  I think whether or not a man wears a beard and/or mustache is between him and his wife (or husband, as the case may be).  As for me and my house, I’ve threatened to divorce Sugar Daddy if he ever grows a mustache because, dude, NO.  Just no.  (Unless he develops a medical condition, in which case he can apply for a beard card.  But I gotta tell you, I’m pretty stingy with those.)

What was the point of this story?  Well, I’m still waiting for that to reveal itself.  John Kitzhaber is the new (old) governor of Oregon, he’s got a creepy mustache, my dad used to have a creepy mustache but was never governor of Oregon–you see how everything is interrelated; I just can’t quite make sense out of it.  I’ll have to get back to you on that.  Meanwhile, I have to make a list for grocery shopping.  That has nothing to do with mustaches, so I will bid you gentle readers adieu and let you get back to your regular scheduled programming.

I’ve decided to become a stealth blogger, posting only on the weekends, when no one will see me.

It has been an eventful summer thusfar.  Elvis has been in day camp for the last three weeks.  I’ve pulled him out of camp for this week because Mister Bubby has Cub Scout day camp and Princess Zurg has drama day camp, and I figured there wasn’t any way I could possibly pick up all three of them from their respective camps on time, so I wouldn’t even try.  Sugar Daddy fell ill on Friday afternoon, and after 48 hours of having Elvis all to myself (or nearly all to myself), I am beginning to think that I should have made more of an attempt to bend time and space or hire an additional driver or something because the next five days of non-stop Elvis is looking more than a little daunting.

I’m pretty sure he misses school.  If he isn’t insisting on doing his Math Minutes, he’s insisting on doing his Phonics workbook.  For your information, there are 100 Math Minutes, and he has already been through them once and is doing them over again.  I suppose the good news is that at his rate of repetition, he ought to be mostly up to grade level by the time September rolls around.  The bad news is that he can’t do any of this on his own–where he doesn’t need actual assistance, he needs moral support, or an audience, or whatever.  And for every second you let him wait, he starts in with the screeching.  He threw some balls over the roof for a little while last night, so that was a good sign.  His speech therapist recommended I force him to do heavy labor, but not being a heavy-labor sort of gal myself, I’m not sure what I’d have him do.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to start chasing him around the park or something.  I’m not much of a runner, either.

Today I had to teach SD’s Primary class (6-7-year-olds).  Fortunately, most of the children were on vacation.  There were only four of them in class, which is almost a manageable size for me.  Children dislike me without fearing me, which is not a good combination for an authority figure.  So, actually, officially, I hate teaching Primary.  But I do enjoy being in Primary because other people’s children are amusing when they’re not bugging the living crap out of me.  Not unlike my own children.  Anyway.

During “sharing time” (large group meeting, before we split into classes) they were asking the kids how they could “follow in Jesus’s footsteps.”  The kids were saying stuff like, “I can pray,” “I can help people,” “I can be nice to people,” and so on and so on.  Then they got to this one kid who said, “I can make people alive after they’re dead.”  I don’t know who that kid was, but I like him.

In class the lesson was supposed to be “I Can Be Kind.”  It’s a pretty straightforward lesson, in theory.  First we talked about the story of the Good Samaritan.  We talked about how the thieves stole the poor guy’s money and his clothes, and one of the kids said, “Did they even take his underwear?”  And they all had a good naughty chuckle over that.  Then later I had them act out the story, and the kid playing the man set upon by thieves turned into a zombie and attacked all the passersby, including the Good Samaritan.  He even attacked the innkeeper.  After a brisk walk around the church building, I had them draw some pictures.  The one girl in the class drew some flowers and “I love you.”  Two of the boys drew guys with guns killing other guys.  The third boy drew a bunch of squares whilst singing opera.

This is why I’m glad I’m only in Primary occasionally.  I couldn’t possibly enjoy any of this if I felt that I was responsible for teaching anyone anything.

The title of this blog is taken from an old Duran Duran song.  Do you remember it?  Why would you?  But that’s what was on my mind this evening.

And now I’m being recruited to assist Elvis with his Math Minutes.  It may be a while before you hear from me again.

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Cross-posted at By Common Consent.

So I was just about to swear off any resolutions for 2010 when I read this story about radio host Delilah pulling her kids out of Crosspoint Academy because the school adopted a book by Stephen Covey as part of its curriculum.

“I would like to say that I am merely ‘deeply concerned’ about a recent addition to the school’s teaching philosophy, but instead, I am forced to admit I am actually HORRIFIED by the recent addition of a book by Mormon author Steven (sic) Covey,” she wrote in a Nov. 24 open letter to Crosspoint parents.

Further, she wrote that she believes in freedom of religion and does not object to Mormon beliefs or the yoga-type, Eastern religion activities Covey advocates. She said in a recent interview, however, that the materials don’t belong in a Christian school.

“It’s not about being intolerant. It’s about being true to my faith,” she said. “I don’t have a problem with Stephen Covey and businesses that use it. I don’t have any problem with people who want to sign up for yoga classes or attend the church of Satan if they want to. That’s their right. But I can’t imagine someone paying money to send their kids to Brigham Young University so they can get a good basis in Mormon faith and then having their kid come home and saying his new teacher was a Catholic priest teaching the Apocrypha.”

Some commentators have said this shows Delilah is anti-Mormon. I really don’t care if she is or not. I don’t blame Delilah for trying to maintain the purity of her children’s Christian education, and where she sends them to school is none of my concern, deep or otherwise. (She could send them to a Satanic school, for all I care!) Her BYU analogy is a little off, though. Surely most Mormon parents would be confused if their kids’ Sunday School teacher turned out to be a Catholic priest teaching the Apocrypha as though it were canonical Mormon scripture, but I don’t think any would object to their kids studying the Apocrypha in a university setting; if nothing else, having a non-Mormon professor would be a missionary opportunity, but more on that later.

I admit that I have never read any Stephen R. Covey books. I think I may have once read a Reader’s Digest article authored by him–something about parenting–but I don’t really remember anything that was in it. I have glanced over Covey’s “seven principles of highly effective people,” and I can only make heads or tails out of the first five. Once he gets to “synergize,” he loses me. But apparently Delilah “is concerned [wait–would that be “merely” concerned?] that the leadership materials [based on Covey’s books] introduce Mormon tenets in a way that is palatable to non-Mormons.”

So look here: I’ve been a Mormon all my life, and despite my lack of BYU degree, I know quite a bit about Mormon theology. I don’t think Brother Covey would be nearly as successful as he is if he’d based his Seven Principles business on something as esoteric and wackado as that. I don’t doubt that Covey’s Mormonism has strongly influenced his personal philosophy–Mormonism is a pervasive corrupting agent–but I suspect that reading one of his books and coming out of it with a greater tendency toward believing in Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling would require more work than most grade-schoolers are willing to perform. (Not that Delilah asked for my reassurances, but there they are.)

However, I am curious about how “Mormon” Covey’s work really is. Delilah says it is “veiled Mormonism.” (Really, is there any other kind?) I don’t think she has any basis for saying this, as pinpointing the distinctly Mormon qualities in something would require a thorough knowledge of Mormon theology and tradition, and anyone who goes to the trouble of acquiring that would probably not be “HORRIFIED” when her children are tangentially exposed to it. But I’m open to the possibility that she has inadvertently hit on some truth here.

Actually, I’m particularly hopeful that she has inadvertently hit on some truth because while the Church strongly encourages its members to share the gospel with all the world, I myself have never been inclined in this direction. Religion is just so, you know, personal, and I hate to make other people feel uncomfortable. I hate it almost as much as making myself uncomfortable. Inviting someone to church or giving them a Book of Mormon is so hard-core. If I could get away with just handing them a Stephen R. Covey book and thereby introducing them to Mormonism in a way that is palatable to them, that would a) relieve some of my guilt over not evangelizing as I ought, b) not make anyone uncomfortable, and c) seduce some unsuspecting innocents into joining the Mormon Love Train. Win-win-win.

Just so we’re clear, I don’t want to debate the question of whether or not Delilah is some kind of religious bigot. Bigot is such an ugly word; I myself would go with “hysterical” and/or “ignorant.” But none of that interests me. I’m sure she’s a very nice person, anyway. No, I want those of you who have read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or are otherwise familiar with Covey’s work and leadership programs to tell me more about this “veiled Mormonism.” I’d read the books myself, but, you know, I didn’t drop out of graduate school so I could do research on “synergy,” dig? What’s the point of having a blog if you can’t exploit your readership for free information?

Your cooperation is appreciated in advance.

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This morning Mister Bubby informed me that he needs a new coat.  He would like a green coat “with not a stupid hood.”  He has previously informed me that hoods make him look “like a jerk.”  He doesn’t want a red coat because red coats make you look “like a girl.”  (Eventually they fade and turn pink.)  “And blue coats are…creepy.”  Okay, then.

Today Girlfriend walked out the front door and said, “Oh, no, Mom–we need more leaves!  We need to get them out of our yard and back onto our green tree!”  I guess autumn is kind of freaking her out this year.

And what do you think happened this weekend?  Yesterday I substitute-taught Elvis’s Primary (children’s Sunday School) class.  Elvis was a little thrown off by me being his teacher for the day, but all he said was, “Where’s Dad?” and “I want snack.”  I didn’t know anyone’s name (except, you know, my own son’s); even though I recognized a couple of the kids, I couldn’t remember what they were called, for the life of me, or who their parents were.  So I asked everyone to tell me their name, but this one kid wouldn’t do it.  I asked if I could call him Steve.  He said he didn’t like that name.  I said, “That’s not my problem, Steve.”  Then one of the other kids betrayed him and told me his real name, so I just used that.

I didn’t hate teaching Primary yesterday.  This differentiates yesterday’s experience from all my previous experiences with teaching Primary, including the time I taught it for six months.  (Or was it four months?  It seemed like eight.  Anyway.)  I think the secret was low expectations.  I didn’t particularly prepare a lesson because my observation has been that there isn’t time but to get about sixteen words in between them telling you about their new puppy or their dead grandpas or how much they like Scooby Doo, and only three of those sixteen words will they actually hear, but they won’t remember them anyway, so whatever.

Yesterday they all asked for their snack first thing, which I also wasn’t particularly prepared for.  The teacher told me they usually started off with a snack, but for some reason I just sort of ignored that.  Ordinarily I am a big believer in plying kids with food just to get them to be quiet for a few minutes, so I think I just must have been in serious denial that I was actually teaching a Primary class.  Anyway, the lesson was supposed to be on fasting, and what better way to teach a bunch of six-year-olds about fasting than by denying them their snack?  Eh?  It was like Providence had a hand in my lack of foresight.

Except that I quickly realized that I really wasn’t going to get by without feeding them, so I rummaged in my church bag for any snacks left over from when I was shoveling food in my own kids’ mouths to keep them quiet during sacrament meeting.  I found some, too.  Fruit snacks.  Quality.  Everyone was impressed.

So they ate their fruit snacks.  I tried to talk a little about fasting and fast offerings, and we all discussed how old everyone was and how many dead grandpas we had (I won that game, as all my grandpas are dead), and then we took a walk around the church building and stopped in the kitchen for a drink of water and disturbed the class that was meeting in the room next door.  When we left the kitchen, we ran into the ward’s new scoutmaster in the hall, and he tried to convince the kids that their teacher was really cool and/or smart, but none of them believed him.  Then we went back to the classroom and did coloring sheets.  One boy painted everyone’s skin green, except for Jesus, whom he painted blue.  And that was my day teaching Primary.

This morning I am so sleepy I could cry.  I don’t remember what I dreamed last night, but apparently it wasn’t conducive to restfulness.  What will Monday bring?

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I don’t think I even announced on the blog that I was going to Vegas.  I think I didn’t have time.  Or I was lazy.  Yeah, lazy.  Well, whatever–I was going to go to Vegas, and in fact I did follow through and actually go to Vegas, and now I’m back.  That’s why I was driving around in the middle of nowhere at 1 a.m. the other day.  (I was going to say “Monday night,” but technically it was Tuesday morning, but who thinks of 1 a.m. as “morning”?  It’s just too confusing to assign an actual day, which is why I decided to go with “the other.”  Clever of me, huh?  This helpful writing tip is complimentary to you, courtesy Madhousewife.  You’re welcome.)  I was driving home from the airport–which, I can assure you, I’ve done plenty of times, even in the dark, without complications.  I was just really tired on the other day, so I got confused and consequently lost.  Getting confused and consequently lost is a regular occurrence with me, especially when driving.  It just doesn’t usually happen on the way home from the airport.  Driving home from the airport has historically been a consistent “winner” for me, which is why my self-confidence has really been hurt by this recent incident.  I don’t think I’ll be flying for a while (which is good because my husband already informed me that I’m not allowed to leave home for the rest of 2009).

As I was saying, though, I was in Vegas, but now I’m home.  You might be wondering why I went to Vegas in the first place.  That is, you might be wondering, if you weren’t in Vegas with me–for that is why I went to Vegas, gentle reader:  to meet some sister bloggers, including my (actual) sister, Cheryl, Alison Wonderland, Susan M, flip flop mama, Janelle, and Shantae (invitation-only, sorry suckahs! well, don’t feel bad, I don’t have one either).  Yes, that makes eight Mormon ladies in Las Vegas for the weekend.  I know what you’re thinking now:  “Still confused.”  What is there for eight Mormon ladies to do in Las Vegas, anyway?  Well, I’ll tell you:  not much.  Fortunately, our people are an industrious lot, and we can find stuff to do anywhere–even in a city that was made especially not for us.

It’s interesting that as many years as I’ve been blogging, I have only just started meeting any fellow/sister bloggers in real life in the last couple of months.  That’s probably because I’ve only really started interacting with other Mormon bloggers in the last year.  That’s the thing about Mormons:  wherever two or more of us are gathered, someone starts craving refreshments, and you can only serve refreshments in real life–hence, you must meet one another in real life!  Mormons are very good about organizing and throwing parties.  It’s one of the things I appreciate most about our culture.

I, for one, started eating Cheetos mere seconds after getting into Cheryl’s car.  (She and Allison picked me up at the airport.)  And thus was our friendship sealed.  FOREVER.

What Do Mormons Do in Sin City?

We commit sins of omission.  For example, we did not see any shows.  No, not even Donny and Marie.  Yes, I know, “how do Mormons go to Las Vegas and not see Donny and Marie?”  Well, it’s easy. Donny and Marie were, like, $100 a ticket.  Dude, no one loves Donny and Marie that much.  Correction:  Nobody I know loves Donny and Marie that much.  We also missed Siegfried and Roy’s last show, apparently.  Also, the NASCAR convention, or whatever it was.  A bunch of NASCAR people converging on Las Vegas.  A NASCAR convergence?  Whatever.  We didn’t do any of that stuff.

We did go to the top of the Stratosphere, but we didn’t ride any rides.  I know, how lame is that?  Well, two of the three rides up there were closed for maintenance, and anyway, the Stratosphere is really, really high!  I was getting sick just looking out the window.  I wasn’t about to get inside some rickety something-or-other to fly around and get sick on other people and possibly wet myself out of pure terror.  I got enough of that on my last trip to Magic Mountain.  And apparently my traveling companions had similar feelings about the issue.  So we just looked out the window.

What were we doing in Las Vegas again?  You ask too many questions.  Just let me tell my story, will you?

We went out for Thai food and were serenaded by a very talented lounge singer we christened “Kenny” because he sounded a lot like Kenny Rogers and we were too shy to ask him for his real name.

We walked through a bunch of casinos and didn’t play any games because seriously, it’s so sad that people waste their lives that way.

If only the house we rented had such marvelous ceilings!

If only the house we rented had such marvelous ceilings!

Some of us went to the temple (we have one in Las Vegas because for some reason, lots of Mormons live there).  However, while those good ladies were at the temple, Susan, Bythelbs and I went to the Liberace Museum.  The Liberace Museum is awesome because a) it’s freaking Liberace, dude, and b) it’s located in a strip mall.

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It’s housed in two buildings, at opposite ends of the strip mall, and between the two buildings are an international market, a tailor, and a Hookah Smoke Shop, among other things.  The first building is devoted to Liberace’s personal and family history and his cars and pianos.  The second building houses his costumes and jewelry and other assorted artifacts, including the world’s biggest rhinestone.  Who knew there was such a thing as the world’s biggest rhinestone?  But where else would it be, besides the Liberace Museum?

The best part is the life-size cardboard Liberace wearing his red, white and blue “hot pants” outfit.  I didn’t get a picture of cardboard Liberace because I was too busy posing with him for someone else’s picture.  But this should give you an idea:

Helpful hint:  Liberace had very hairy legs

Helpful hint: Liberace had very hairy legs

On Sunday we went to the Valley of Fire national park.  (That was our requisite sin of commission:  we ditched church on Sunday.  I know.  We were wild, I tell you, wild!)  The Valley of Fire makes an interesting contrast to the city of Las Vegas.  Las Vegas is an amazing spectacle–everything done to excess, but ultimately a whole lot of nothing.  It is probably the most depressing place I have ever seen.  (Easy for me to say–I didn’t even take in a single naked vampire show!)  The Valley of Fire is truly spectacular.  My pictures don’t do it justice.  The rocks are very red.  The sky that day was very blue.  It was really a gorgeous day.  I took more pictures there than I’ve probably taken anywhere, but only a couple were really any good, and that was mostly on accident because I’m a terrible photographer.  Every so often, though, the natural world overcomes my incompetence.

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Technically, that’s not entirely the natural world as the bright white lines were made by airplanes, but still–kind of cool, eh?

Anyway, that’s what I did on my Vegas vacation.  The best part was meeting all these wonderful ladies and enjoying their fine company.  Thank you, ladies!  You were better than naked vampires any day of the week.  (And you know I mean that.)

Mormonfolk had a discussion recently on BCC about whether it was kosher (in the Mormon sense–hm, what would be a good Mormon word for “kosher”?  note to self:  think on that later, get back to the blog now) to have alcohol served in your home at a holiday party or in some other entertaining scenario.  Actually, the specific question was what you would do if a co-worker, knowing there would be no alcohol served at your party, asked you if it would be okay to bring his own adult beverages.  Last I checked, the responses were about 50-50, Cool vs. Not Cool.  Some said, “Of course I would have alcohol for my guests who want to enjoy it.  It’s only what a gracious host would do.”  And others said, “My house, my rules.”  Do you want to know what I said?  Of course you do, or you wouldn’t be reading!  My response was “Why would I have alcohol in my home when I don’t drink alcohol?”  I mean, if people want to be drinking alcohol that badly, I assume they would be someplace-not-the-Mormon’s-house.  I don’t think of it as “my house, my rules.”  I think of it as…”I don’t drink alcoholic beverages and never have drunk alcoholic beverages, and therefore I don’t think of alcoholic beverages as being an essential component of a holiday party or other entertaining scenario, and therefore if I am forced to think about it, I have to come down on the side of ‘If my company is so insufficient for these revelers’ needs, why would they want to come to my party in the first place?’  Harumph!”  (I threw that “Harumph!” in just for you, sis.)

I can’t say that I’ve hosted a lot of parties in my day, though.  Those parties that I have hosted have tended to be largely Mormon affairs because, well, I know a lot of Mormons.  I’m forced to interact with Mormons, so they tend to be the people I get to know.  I don’t have nearly as much occasion to interact with regular old people to the same extent, and therefore my circle of non-Mormon friends and acquaintances is limited to Sugar Daddy’s co-workers, parents of my kids’ friends, the next-door neighbors, and people I knew in high school and college.  (I suppose I also have non-Mormon friends in my tap class, but I haven’t invited any of them to parties yet.  Maybe I should.  Note to self.)  Anyway, I’ve never hosted some big holiday gala whereunto I would be inviting a significant number of potential social-drinkers.  The last big party we threw was for Mister Bubby’s baptism, and there were exactly four not-Mormons there, only two of whom were of legal drinking age, and I think they would have felt uncomfortable if I had offered them beer just to make them feel more comfortable.  And the more I think about it, the more I think I would feel uncomfortable having beer and wine in my house when beer and wine are taboo for everyone who lives in my house.  I can’t explain why.  I just would.

Let me tell you the extent of my experience with drinking and parties.

I remember going to my first (and last) college party.  It was the week before school started, and I was a freshman, and hardly any students had arrived yet.  Some townies were hosting a party, and someone invited my roommate and me to go, and me being away from home and uncharacteristically not feeling like being alone said, “Sure, I’ll go a party”–not realizing that there would be nothing for a Mormon girl to do at a party hosted by townies for college students.  And truly, there was nothing for me to do.  It was the most miserable, most boring two hours of my life, and you must remember that I had been going to church every week for twenty years, so I knew what boring was.  There was no food.  There was no one (sober) to talk to.  There was no television.  A couple people might have been playing Nintendo in the basement.  There was no fussball, but even if there were, I didn’t play fussball, so that would have been a dead end anyway.  But I don’t know.  I was pretty desperate, so I might have taken it up, but like I said, that’s neither here nor there.  I suppose if I’d wanted to make out with somebody, I could have gotten lucky–but I don’t think that thought ever crossed my mind.  Also, as the only sober person, I felt pretty invisible.  Actually, I eventually found another sober person; he was the designated driver and he drove me and some other (drunk) people back to the college.  (My roommate stayed and got plastered and threw up.)  So that was an experience.  I vividly recall thinking, “I totally understand why people drink at parties even if they might not particularly want to.  Because this is freaking depressing.”

Obviously, I have since been to more interesting parties that just happened to have alcohol at them, rather than parties that existed solely for the purpose of alcohol consumption.  And those parties didn’t depress me.  Nor did I notice anyone getting drunk at them.  But those parties also had plenty of food and sober-enough-to-talk-to people.  To me that is what’s essential to a party.  Of course I can see why others think differently.  Lots of people enjoy drinking wine (or whatever), not to get drunk but to, you know, relax and loosen up or whatever.  I guess for a lot of folks, having a couple drinks makes them more sociable.  I’ve never had a couple drinks, so I don’t know for sure, but knowing the extent of my social anxiety versus my tolerance for alcohol, I reckon that there is a very fine line between what would make me more sociable and what would make me fall asleep.

When I was eighteen my office had a little cake-eating party for a co-worker whose birthday it was, and the cake was a rum cake.  So I had this little sliver of cake soaked in rum, and I thought it was, eh, whatever.  Then I spent the next few hours feeling a tad…off.  I kept thinking, “What on earth is the matter with me today?” and then I realized it must have been the rum cake.  Maybe I ate it on an empty stomach.  (The idea of me having an empty stomach is somewhat laughable these days, but when I was eighteen, ‘twould not have been that unusual.)  Anyway, I didn’t enjoy the experience.  Not only was the cake not very good, but I didn’t like this “off” feeling.  I guess you could call it a “buzz.”  It was very annoying.  Perhaps I would have felt differently about it if I had been in a social situation instead of at work, but then again, if I’d not been at work, I would have been sorely tempted to go to sleep.  The sleep would have been nice for me, but I doubt anyone else would have found me more sociable.

Anyway, I like to know what I’m thinking and feel what I’m feeling.  Well, listen to me.  I opted against anesthesia during childbirth, so why would I enjoy a good buzz?  It just doesn’t stand to reason.

(Look, I know there are plenty of folks who enjoy the occasional drink as well as the occasional natural birth, so don’t hassle me here.  Lighten up.  Maybe you should have a couple drinks before you read my blog.  Or don’t drink.  Whatever’s preventing you from taking a joke, remedy it.)

So here’s the thing.  I don’t connect drinking with anything in my life, either for good or ill, because I don’t drink.  Therefore, I don’t connect it with the ability to enjoy oneself at a party.  It just wouldn’t occur to me that a lack of alcoholic beverage would correlate to a lack of social enjoyment because my brain just doesn’t work that way.  To me, any situation which proffers the opportunity for conversation with people not my children (no offense to them) is a party.  And if you throw in food, ta da!  You have achieved Super-Party.  So the standards are low, I’ll admit.  But that’s how my brain works.  If you came up to me and said, “Um, would it be okay if I brought my own beer/wine/Mike’s Hard Lemonade/gin/vodka/whiskey/etc. to the party, since you won’t be serving any?” I would be taken totally off guard and think it was a weird thing to ask.  And I would probably end up saying, “Um…really?  No.  Not really, no.”  And then our friendship might become strained, and that would be uncomfortable too.  But truth be told, I’d rather you just didn’t come than come and feel like you were being deprived of an essential partying factor.  That would be uncomfortable for me, too.

So now I sincerely and with some trepidation ask the following question:  Is it normal behavior to bring your own alcohol to a party where you know alcohol isn’t going to be served because your host doesn’t drink alcohol?  Because to me that seems a little weird.  I don’t bring my own roast beef to my vegan friend’s dinner party, even though she’s perfectly fine with me consuming meat in front of her.  Am I remiss in my social propriety?  Discuss.

And here’s a poll.  (Stupid PollDaddy isn’t working.  Harumph!)

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