Mormon Dance Card
THE REQUEST: Write
about an important lesson you once learned
One of my favorite stories about my teen years came
when I was seventeen years old, and I got invited to my very first
Mormon Dance. Because that was the night that I learned a very valuable
lesson about life. And that very valuable lesson was...
Oh, wait a minute.
Before I get
to this one, I guess I should give you a little backstory first.
Because with this story, the punchline definitely requires
My gateway to the Holy Land
So it's the winter of 1992 here, and I'm seventeen years old. And one
things you need to know about me at seventeen years old was that I was
really, REALLY close to being a Mormon kid. Like, if you looked up
"Seems Like a Mormon Kid" in the encyclopedia back in 1992, you would
seen a picture of me,
and I would have been drinking a tall glass of one percent white milk.
And I would have for
damn heck sure been
watching a PG-rated Jim Varney comedy with all of the swear words
edited out. THAT'S
how straight and narrow and just sort of innocent I was back
when I was a
In fact, let me put it this way for you. When I was seventeen, even
would have looked at me and said dang, that kid really needs to let
EVEN MORMON KIDS THOUGHT I WAS A LITTLE TOO SQUARE FOR THEM!
Me in my 99.2% Mormon glory
So yeah, in
1992, I was really really close to being a Mormon kid. But the problem
that I actually wasn't even Mormon at all. Everyone just THOUGHT I was.
And this leads us into our story.
When I was a teenager, I played on all the local Mormon sports teams.
Baseball, basketball, flag football, you name it. If there was ever a
Mormon stake center in the area, and they needed an extra player for a
game, they would always call me up and invite me. Well, actually,
that's not true. They would
actually call up both my brother and me. Dom and I were both pretty
at most sports, so that helped. But what was even MORE
important than being
good at sports was the fact that neither one of us were known
for being big troublemakers. So we weren't going
to do anything dumb like start a fight in the middle of a
game, or get called for a technical foul. Or
(this was always the big one) say a swear word inside of a church.
THAT was the real reason why we always got invited.
Basically, we got
invited because you could pass both Dom and me off as Mormons, and no
know. We were essentially just LDS sports ringers.
Here we are pretending to be Mormon before a big regional basketball
And I bet you're sitting
there now wondering, hey, if this is a story about sports, how is this
going to turn into a lesson that you learned at a dance? Where are you
going with this one?
Well here's where the story is about to get fun. :)
Dom and I played on Mormon sports teams all the time when we
teenagers. And I mean ALL. THE. TIME. We were ALWAYS the big ringers.
To the extent that, eventually, the head LDS Bishop came over
to us one day, and he tried to convert us. He pointed out, "Hey guys,
if you're playing on our teams every week, you
should really start coming to services every once in a while. It would
only be fair." He basically tried to talk us into joining the
Side note: To be
didn't have a problem with becoming a Mormon. If push came to
probably would have gone along with the idea. I probably would
have gone to church
every once in a while, just so I could keep playing on their teams. I
hell heck, it didn't
matter to me what religion I was when
I was seventeen. I just liked having kids in the area to play sports
So no, I didn't have a problem with becoming a
But my mom...
Well, uh... let's just say... she DID have a problem with it.
And you know, I guess I should have mentioned this fact a little
earlier in the
story. My mom was very very protective of her sons. And she
was also very very VERY VERY VERY old school and Lutheran.
To the extent that her father (my grandfather) had once been the
President of the Lutheran Church. And when you're the daughter of the
President of the Lutheran Church, lemme just say this. That makes you
pretty darn Lutheran yourself. So when my mom heard that an
bishop was out there talking to her sons, and he was trying to
convert us, um, let's just say she was NOT happy.
In fact, I
believe my mom's exact words were "Tell him to come over to our house
and try that, so I can shove my foot up his ass. He needs to stay the
away from my kids."
So anyway, no. I was not going to attend Mormon church.
My mom. Nicest person in the world.
But you also didn't want to
fuck heck with her.
BUT! There's a silver lining here. Because this is where we get into
being a story about a dance.
bishop, god bless him, he didn't give up on us. Because he REALLY
wanted Dom and me to be a part of his church. I mean, after all, that's
what missionaries do, right? They are always out there passively
And this is where he found a cute little workaround to go over the
head of my mom. And I have to say that... looking back at it now, in
thirty years later... this was actually a pretty slick little move.
What he did was he lured us in with a chance to meet girls. He invited
us to an upcoming Mormon Dance.
And so yes, here comes one of my greatest stories of all time.
I HAD TO INTERVIEW FOR A MORMON DANCE CARD.
Not my actual Mormon Dance Card, but close
Now, I don't know if this is standard for Mormon churches in
but the way it worked in Bellevue in 1992 was, if you wanted to attend
a Mormon dance, and you were a boy, and you wanted to be within
touching proximity of cute innocent
Mormon girls, the church leaders had to sit down and interview you
first. They basically wanted to
meet you ahead of time, and talk to you, and size you up, and get to
know who you were.
And basically... you know... make sure you weren't going to walk into
dance, and the minute you got in there, you weren't going to just whip
it out, and turn the whole thing into a big
fuck heck orgy.
Basically, they wanted to make sure you were an
upstanding young man, and that you weren't going to get all grindy and
note: For years,
I believed that Dom and I had been
these interviews because we were the only two boys at the dance who
weren't going to be Mormon. So I assumed these interviews were the
leaders just sort of singling us out. But about fifteen years later, I
found out that
EVERYONE at that dance had to be interviewed first, whether they were
actually Mormon or not. I know this because I was friends with the
daughter, Colleen, and she explained to me once how it worked.
me, "I mean, even I
had to go through an interview, and the guy who was
interviewing me was my DAD!
It was a new process they had just
introduced for dances, and I just thought the whole thing was so dumb.
I'd been going to dances for years, why do I suddenly have to be
note #2: I once asked Colleen if she was surprised that I
had passed my
Mormon purity interview with her dad. And she just laughed at me. "Oh
no, I knew you at seventeen, I had no doubt you would pass." P.S. One
day I'd like that sentence engraved on my tombstone.
One night, my brother and I had to go in and do an interview
with the Bishop of
the Mormon church. And, if I recall correctly, also a couple
of his sidekicks. To see if we were worthy of being allowed
five feet of their most precious commodity in the world, cute
blonde teenage unmarried Mormon girls. I remember my interview was
first, and then Dom's was right afterwards. And if you're curious,
here's how a Mormon dance interview goes.
No one expects the Mormon Inquisition
I don't remember the questions they asked me,
specifically, but I'll give you the Cliff's
notes version of how I vaguely remember it going.
Do you believe in
premarital sex? No.
Are you sexually active
Do you drink alcohol?
not even once.
Would you drink alcohol
if it were offered to you? No, I don't want it.
Because drinking is stupid.
Would you have sex if a
girl asked you to? No.
Because a girl wouldn't ask me to.
What if she did?
I would worry about her tastes in men.
Are you religious?
What church do you belong
to? A couple of them.
Would you be interested
in coming to Mormon services? Clear it with my mom first,
and then maybe we'll talk.
Can you be trusted around
girls? Of course.
Can WE trust you around
girls? Yes, of course.
Have you ever been to a
dance before? Yes, twice, but I sort of just sat there.
Have you ever broken the
remember there were three guys conducting the interview (the Bishop and
then also his two sidekicks.) And they just kept hammering away at me,
figure out if I could be trusted around girls. And what I thought about
marriage. And if my parents were married. And what I thought about sex.
And if Dale Murphy really was the greatest MLB player of the eighties.
I basically got
hit with everything. And at the end of the interview, they were just
sort of dumbfounded. Because it was clear as day that I was as Mormon
of the actual Mormon kids. Try as they might, they couldn't find a
single thing wrong with me.
"Well I guess that's that," said the
bishop, looking surprised. "I have to say, young man, I am very
impressed." He stood up to shake my hand. "Your parents must be very
proud of you."
"They are, sir," I said, in my best Eddie Haskell
impression. "And I have to say I'm impressed with this process, too. I
think it's good that you know who is coming to your dance."
anyway, that's how I got my hands on an elusive and coveted MORMON
DANCE CARD. I was
now fully approved (literally by the church!) to get within five feet
of Mormon girls, and actually slow dance with them. I felt like I was a
I was now an honorary Mormon!
Important Side note:
Dance Card was the greatest conversation piece. I kept it in my wallet
for YEARS. And people ALWAYS wanted to see it. The minute I told them
story, they always had me whip it out to prove the story was real. So
I did, and they were always just as impressed as the bishop had been.
Holy shit, Mario really DOES hold a Mormon Dance Card. He really IS
pure enough to be allowed to slow dance with Mormons.
Important Side note
#2: Although sadly, the card was lost at some point in the
I don't remember where or when it got lost, but I assume it was when we
moving from Seattle down to Southern California. At some point during
the move, some of my personal items got lost in the shipping. And
beloved Mormon Dance Card was one of the casualties. :(
"Or maybe I just threw it out. Who knows? Be a real shame if
that thing disappeared."
And with that, we can now wrap up this story, and get to the
final punchline. Because
remember, this is supposed to be a story of an important lesson that I
once learned about girls.
So my brother and I both got our Mormon Dance Cards. And
we both attended our very first Mormon dance, in the winter of 1992.
And going into the dance, I was SURE that we were going to be overrun
incredible nonstop onslaught of female attention all night. I mean, not
blunt, but even at that age, I knew enough about the LDS church to
know that... if you're a seventeen year old Mormon girl, and you're not
married yet... you're already sort of in a race against time. I mean,
two new guys at a dance who you have never actually noticed before, and
you're seventeen years old, you're definitely going to be curious about
So I had EVERY expectation that my brother and I were just going to be
surrounded all night by all these beautiful girls.
And you know what? That's not the way that it played out at ALL.
Here is EVERY interaction I had with a girl the night of my very first
[Some girl sees me, and is curious about me, so she walks over to talk
I'm Hope/Faith/Chastity! Want to dance?
Me: Hi, I'm
[We start dancing]
what stake do you belong to?
Me: Oh, I'm
[She immediately ends the dance, and walks away]
again, here's the important lesson that I learned that night. Keep this
in mind, because this is a good thing to know if you're a young man.
Unless you're a
Mormon boy, don't even THINK you're ever gonna hook up with a Mormon
It's just not gonna happen. They don't want
shit-all heck-all to do
with you unless you're also a Mormon.
And that's why this was not only my first Mormon dance, it was also my
LAST Mormon dance.
My beloved Mormon Dance Card only got one use out of it. :(
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