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Archive for September 14th, 2009

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

September 14th, 2009 | Category: Life,Opinions

When I was in New York a few months ago i met this writer, Elna Baker. She’s behind my favorite This American Life story, Babies Buying Babies. At first glance she’s young, beautiful. Talking to her it’s obvious she’s smart, funny, liberal. What’s not obvious about her, at least right away, is that she’s a Mormon. She’s a single Mormon girl trying to make it in the big city. As I said, she’s a writer, and her first book is a memoir.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker is an intimate look into her life after leaving home and family to make a life in New York city. The memoir begins as Elna is preparing to leave home to start college at NYU. Her family’s quite worried about her, not for all the obvious reasons, they’re afraid for her immortal soul. Her mom is particularly concerned, afraid that New York will defile her lovely, overweight, completely innocent daughter. See, Elna’s family is very Mormon. Her mom’s biggest worry is that Elna will move away, find liquor, then drugs, and then become a lesbian. Because, obviously, vices lead to lots of really hot lesbian sex. Elna’s mom warns her of clubs where men pay larger women money to undress. She tells her, “don’t do that.” This is the sort of lecture a Mormon girl gets before college, don’t become a junkie lesbian stripper. Elna may be sheltered, but she’s not naive. She’s aware that her mom’s warnings are hilariously over the top, and she writes about her family, her upbringing and herself with wit and sincerity.

Being a single Mormon means Elna’s a virgin. She’s supposed to abstain until marriage, and if she wants to go to Heaven, she has to merry a Mormon fellow in a Mormon Temple. This would be fine, except for the fact that she’s a crazy romantic, very free spirited and has a good dose of sexual desire. Okay, a double dose of sexual desire. This memoir is about her desire to live life on her terms while remaining faithful to God and church. Juggling faith, and longing, and lust, it’s not an easy task. Elna writes about her stints on the Mormon singles scene, particularly the New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, a room full of awkward virgins looking to find a mate. Elna’s kind of an outsider among Mormons, she questions things. She doesn’t blindly follow what others buy so easily. She plays the Mormon singles game, but she knows it’s absurd. She’s able to write about her search for intimacy with such humor and clarity. It doesn’t help that most Mormon guys, are apparently, dorks. It’s difficult for Elna, who’s very well read, intelligent and spontaneous, to find an even remotely acceptable suitor within her faith. Dating outside the faith is difficult because no matter how much she might care for a guy, being with him goes against everything she was raised to believe. Throughout the book we watch her beliefs shift, they change as she matures. She loses eighty pounds, she sees herself differently, as do all the fellows in New York. She’s young and hot, and shackled to a belief system that she might not believe. She never doubts that God exists, but she definitely questions how she was taught to serve Him.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker is a smart, funny and interesting look into the life of a young lady trying to balance passion and faith. She wants to get laid, without damning her soul.