I was released from my calling in my ward's Young Women presidency a month-and-a-half ago, only to be called right back into the organization last week, this time as assistant camp director. Don't know why, but it seems this is where I belong, with the teenage girls. I wasn't the most successful one myself, so I wonder what these 'leventy-million opportunities to work with kids have been about, lo, these past thirteen years. 13! One of my lucky numbers!
Tonight, at least, I am persuaded that this latest opportunity to serve came in small part so that I could introduce the concept of sexism to one of my Laurels, our sweet self-appointed sophisticate, our diva-in-process. She recently loaned me two books (for which just a tad of sleuthing around on this page will produce the twin titles). I spent the next few days in a heavy bipolar funk and these fat best-sellers supplied me with enough low-investment busywork to keep me somewhat distracted till I made it out of that dark place. About all I did during that time was read. Did I enjoy them? In a way. I certainly got through them in a hurry—over 1000 pages in far less than 72 hours. But I had many residual beefs, and tonight, when my beloved Opera Miss finally quizzed me about my take on the books, I gave it to her gently and broadly, but straight. Judging from her reaction, I think that she isn't fully aware of the meaning of "sexist," but I'm pretty sure the word lodged neatly in her brain and will stick there till her understanding grows. She did, however, seem to get it when I said that the books' heroine was weak because she allowed, and even relied upon, another person—a boy, of course—to call the shots, set the standards, draw the limits, etc., and that she was willing to trade everything—her family, her life, her future, her ability to contribute to her world, ad nauesum—for love, or rather, for LUV. I took issue with the points that nothing is more important than LUV and that LUV conquers all. Of course, love is at the heart of everything good, but it ain't necessarily at the heart of LUV. I told her that this wasn't my idea of true romance, or a great character, or real sacrifice. I did say I often thought as I read the books how glad I was that "our girls" are making better choices. (What I didn't say was that I am concerned that this may not continue to be the case for some of them.) I did smile a wry inward smile when, in the middle of my requested book report, which was received in a feeling-after-adulthood quasi-knowing style, lovely Opera Miss interrupted me and girlishly asked:
"So, who do you like better? Edward or Joseph?"
Um . . . the vampire? or the werewolf? Hard choice. How about no more steady boyfriends till you figure out "sexist"?
I didn't enumerate my more minute criticisms, which include but are far from limited to:
•Don't lie to your family.
•Don't use people.
•Learn to be secure in yourself—without a boyfriend, already!
•Don't have your boyfriend stay with you at night on the sly or otherwise, and especially not in your bed.
•When you get a bad feeling about something, trust it instead of fighting against it.
•How come a homegirl from BYU isn't writing more moral strength into her female character?
I swear, I didn't get up on my soapbox. I just answered my young friend's question because she wanted to hear what I thought. But I do know when to quit. When I did we went cheerfully back to our ongoing hammock-making project with the rest of the Tuesday evening group: ripping old bedsheets into strips, sewing the pieces together, and winding them up into fat fabric yarn balls. Teamwork. In two weeks I'll bring the wood supports and introduce the girls to power tools.
Nicely, my Opera Miss and I discovered that we both adore Cyrano de Bergerac, and twittered on about that a while, in a totally different, giddy, gushy tone. You see? I do loves me a good love story.