If my dating history were to apply for a diversity scholarship, it might have a decent shot if it stuck to its attention to religions. My first boyfriend was a hardcore Mormon in all ways. While being told that we should marry and have children when I get out of high school is great when you’re fifteen and in the throes of a first love, but the heebie-jeebies which that invoked not two years later were overwhelming.
I then quickly went through a Southern Baptist (who are not allowed to dance) and a “former” Mormon who told a very young and very experimental me that he still believed that sex should be for marriage.
[Well I certainly changed that.]
My personal running joke from that time is that someday I’d settle down with a Moonie and have a nice mass wedding.
So you can imagine that I nearly spit out my juice when J told me early in our dating from many, many moons ago that his family belonged to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This had never been an issue in all our years, dating or not. But I was off my game socially on Saturday when his parents came into town. I usually have more social graces than you can shake a stick at, but somehow, maybe it was the weather, or the new gates on our apartment complex, or just a passing virus, but I just did not gather all the information from the mental vaults.
Thankfully my foot was clean because I got to taste it not once, not twice, but a thrilling three times before the night was over. Now the first was completely due to me not gathering all the information, I’ll credit it that. I clearly remembering pouncing into J’s room a little before the election speculating on how Jehovah’s Witnesses do not vote for unto them government is Not God’s Law just Joe Bob’s here on Earth. [For the last eight years, they might have had a bit of a point.]
Regardless, as I wandered in the mall next to J’s mom, leading both J and his father who share very similar traits of distractions, I wracked my brain to make conversation, “So…what did you think of the election?”
She clutched one hand under her throat and said gently, “Well…being a Witness, we don’t actually partake in the elections.”
What’s insanely worse is that as soon as “Witness” came from her mouth, I burst out with nervous laughter. I laughed because of the situation and the reality of my mistake. I quickly apologized for the question and the laughter. “It’s just…I wanted to compare generational takes to the …er, elections.” I ran to the bathroom.
Dinner. Through the grapevine we had heard that J’s younger brother, who of the three kids is the only one baptised in the church, was getting married. Everyone loves marriages, right? Right?
“So we heard that J’sYB is getting married. Are you excited?”
Chewing stops across the table and both faces blanch. I eye J who eyes them and me. Turns out that given that, early in the marriage and life of the family, J’s father left the church which made him an actual pariah in all JW settings. His mother-in-law per church doctrine is not allowed to speak to him. His wife and son must make a special sort of exception, because they do indeed live with him – but – J’s dad will not be allowed to attend the wedding and his daughter-in-law will probably be restricted to speak to him.
J was incredulous. Neither him or myself had any notion that this was the case. J, who I’ve never heard curse around his parents, said in a low voice, hands shaking, “Fuck Them. Just fuck them.” As J’s mom explains the situation and there is a silence, I clutch my utensils and ask, “How do y’all spend the holidays?”
“We don’t actually celebrate -” I exhale sharply remembering and tilting my head slowly toward and against wall as J murmurs, “This’ll get her started,” and there is a blur of “Jesus”‘s.
As least I didn’t tell her that I feel like the holidays are crock too because it’s Yule and Christians stole it from us to begin with.