So there I was, my email@example.com account barely three months old, when it arrived from uncharted reaches of the internet universe: a bonafide query about the Mormon world I know and love.
Hello Mrs. Brooks,
I have a 16 year old mormon friend, and I am attracted to her. I am 15, and I am not a Mormon. I am, however, a Christian. She knows that I like her, and I think that she likes me, too. I don’t know what I should do, because both of those things can create some problems if I ask her out. I turn 16 in April. Should I wait until then to ask her out? Any advice that you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
Now, readers, you may imagine how it felt to be the recipient of such important questions straight from a young and tender heart. And who exactly am I to answer such a query? A lifelong member of the Mormon Church. A profesional scholar of religion and American culture. A writer. A Mormon woman writer who has gotten used to being the only Mormon woman in the room, in the company of non-Mormon people with a thousand burning questions they never dared ask before. A bossy older sister. A cosmic mother hen. And, could it be, as they would say in the Yiddish of my husband’s grandmother, a would-be yenta: an absolute sucker for the prospect of greater ecumenical understanding, teenaged love, and exceptionally thoughtful fifteen year old boys who research the faith traditions of their would-be crushes on the internet.
So I took a deep breath. Click-click-click went the keyboard. And here is what I said:
First, let me congratulate you on your excellent taste in women. Granted, I’m biased, but I do think most Mormon girls are pretty awesome.
Let me also congratulate you on your sensitivity to the beliefs of the Mormon Girl you’re crushing on. It’s true that Mormon kids are counseled not to date until they are 16 and are strongly encouraged to date within the faith. That’s because marrying another faithful Mormon in the Mormon temple is a Big Deal in Mormonism.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You’re 15. She’s 16. No one is talking about marriage. You’re not even sure she likes you yet. So I’m going to give you the advice my Mormon youth leaders gave me and my friends when we were just pimply MIA Maids (What’s a MIA Maid? you ask: Hang out with Mormons long enough and you’ll find out). Two words: Group Date.
Especially if you live outside the Book-of-Mormon belt (and my guess is that you do), Mormon kids tend to run together in groups. On Friday and Saturday nights, they come up with nutty schemes for fun without sex, drugs, and alcohol. Which does not mean they are totally tame. My brother’s friends, for example, set fire to couches.
So, LM, listen: find the group of Mormon kids your Mormon Girl runs with, and get yourself invited to their next weekend couch-fire, or late night Taco Bell run, or toilet-papering expedition, or Wii tournament. Believe, me, they’d be pleased as red punch to have a nice Christian boy like you along for the ride: they’d think they were doing missionary work. And while you’re hanging out in a nice big group, surely you and your Mormon Girl will get to know each other better . . .
Who knows what will happen from there. Rumor has it some Mormon girls do marry outside the faith and live happily ever after anyways.
Have fun and keep me posted.
Ask Mormon Girl
And so, there it is. The mailbag is open at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tune in next week to see how I’ll answer LM’s follow-up query: ”What are some of the differences between Mormon and Christian beliefs that I should know about? The last thing that I want is to offend someone, especially such a nice girl as her.”
Man, I love this kid.