Wednesday, September 28, 2005
The Singles Ward

Also known as the Mormon Meat Market

Disclaimer: I have hesitated to write about my religion much here. Mostly because I know there may be questions and I'm afraid I won't be able to answer them right. Though I'll try. Feel free to ask in comments or you can e-mail me. I don't want to sour anybody's ideas about my church, they are good people with good values. Some of them are just a little...shall we say...zealous. This is an issue that matters to them (and me) and they feel very strongly about it. Also, for the rest of this post, when I say "cows" I mean it in a nice way. :)

Marriage is very important in my religion. It’s considered a celestial law, meaning basically if you’re not married, you don’t get into the highest level of heaven. Lucky for me I don’t plan on dying anytime soon so I’m in no great rush to tie the noose…I mean knot. We’re taught from a very young age to “prepare now for an eternal marriage”. A good goal to be sure, something to strive for, great, good, whatever, now shut up.

The Singles Ward happens to you when you turn 18 and start going to college. After going to church with your family for your entire life, you’re set free, turned loose into one of two types of University Wards. If you’re crazy and got married RIGHT OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL (it happens) then you go to the Married Ward and that part of your worries is over. If you’re normal (by my definition) you head to a singles ward where you will be constantly rebuffed until you escape to the Married Ward. I am in the Singles Ward.

The singles ward. There’s a movie about it. Do you want to know why it’s so funny? Because it’s true. All the little things they say that are so outlandish and downright insane, people really say. The ideas they have about dating and marriage, REAL. The matchmaking, actually goes on. The girls openly weeping about their breakups in front of an entire congregation, yeah, happened last Sunday. I however, see things a little differently. I see the poor girls in a Singles Ward as three different kinds of cows, and the men they’re trying to impress, as farmers.

At least once a month in a Singles Ward you will hear of someone getting engaged. If you’re me, it will be someone younger than you. Someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to become bitter and guarded, probably someone who has never even had their heart good and broken. For these cows it was easy. They walk into the Mormon Meat Market all fresh and doe-eyed, they were bred for this, to be the champion. Their mother did it, all of their sisters did it, everyone they know did it. They know that they’re there for one purpose and one alone. To find “HIM” and I ain’t talking about God. “HE” is their man, the one that will give them status, a reason to live, the one that will change their tires, and check their oil. “HE” will bring home the paycheck so she can stay home and take care of their 10 kids. Their farmer will take care of them, feed them, clothe them, nurture and protect them. OK, I may be exaggerating things here. But not much. Yes, for them they simply walk into the church, flutter their mascara filled lashes, giggle a bit, and then WHAM! Like a sledge hammer to the head, they’re engaged. Before they even had the chance to get to know themselves, they hand themselves over to someone else. I used to want to be one of them.

If you’re not one of the “lucky few” who end up hauled…I mean swooped…off their feet. The next stage is the “Pick Me”. These poor cows are not the best of the best. They haven’t been bred for generations back to attract potential farmers. They have to work at it a little harder. They have to wake up early on auction day, grooming and primping, choosing their wardrobes carefully. They must show enough “udder” to make the farmers look twice, but not so much that they seem desperate. They scoff at the weather, wearing their sandals and short skirts on the coldest of days. If nothing else than for the excuse to snuggle, or, if they’re lucky borrow a suit jacket to wear to the next class. They work hard and the “lucky ones” attract “HIM” and are whisked away to their new farm. I used to be one of them.

I am the third cow. The kind that is past “prime buying time”. If you’ve reached 22 and are still unwed, you’re doing something wrong. You’ve reached the point of pity. You’re not completely hopeless, but let’s face it; the good farmers are already gone. People you love, and who love you will ask “if you’re seeing anyone.” And saying no and seeing that look of pity on their face…well, it’s unpleasant. In this phase you get riddled with pep talks. People that “care” say things like, “He’s wondering where you are as much as you’re wondering about him” and “Your time will come” and, my personal favorite, “Don’t worry, he’s out there somewhere”. Ya know what? He might not be. I don’t believe that there’s someone out there for everyone. I don’t believe that if you’re just patient he’ll come along. In the third group there are two subgroups. We’ll call them group 3A and 3B. Group 3A hears the pep talks and believes them with every fiber of their poor deluded little being. When they’re asked if they’re seeing anyone they half smile half frown and reply “No, but I know I’ll find him…someday.” Group 3B (my group) here the same questions, listen to the same pep talks and simply smile and nod. “Suuuuure Grandma, whatever helps you sleep at night.” We have reached the point where, when we hear about a new engagement, we think “But you’re so young. Get out an LIVE before you curl up and die.” Not that I think getting married and dying are related but to these cows, they live to find “HIM”, once they’ve found him, they don’t know what to do with themselves. I am the third cow, subgroup B, single and not banking on that changing. Will it? Maybe. Am I basing my life on finding Mr. Right? No. It’s just another farm, I’m gonna try my hand and being free range beef for awhile.

I didn’t even talk about the damn farmers. They don’t even have to try. They just sit back and watch the parade, they hold the reins to this circus. They drop a smile here and there, maybe drape an arm over an unsuspecting cow, then the cow goes into her bit. Baking cookies, making dinner, cleaning apartments. The poor cows don’t even know that they’re being played. Even if they win, do they even know what they’re winning? Do they even realize that they’re just in for more of the same, sans the uncertainty? They’re still getting milked! They’re still baking cookies, making dinner, and cleaning apartments, but now they’re doing laundry and changing diapers too.

Did I mention the no premarital sex? And people wonder why we marry so young. HORMONES!! Even if you set aside the pressure from friends, parents, church leaders, and people you don’t even know, you’re still not getting any until you say I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I want these things. I want the husband, and the children, and the “farm” but not right now. I have things to do, people to see, places to go. So like I said, SHUT UP!


Blogger Missuz J said...

This was too funny not to laugh, but almost too true to be funny. You are an absolute riot girl.

Blogger Sareet said...

Awesome post - funny and informative. Came upon it randomly. I've never really thought about the love life of Mormons. The only Mormon girl I knew got married right out of high school.

Love the smattering of cow pics!

Blogger Diane said...

That's about right. Frankly, I don't bother asking how people are doing anymore, since the only answer that seems to matter where we grew up is if you're hitched or not.
The eerie cycle of first date to marriage is insanely quick too. One of my best friends got married within 9 months of meeting the fellow.
Not that love life outside is much better (in terms of actually meeting someone). But I'd rather have the freedom to choose who (and if!) I want to enslave myself to.
I have a pretty vicious rant on the subject on my mySpace if you ever want to check it out.
Another interesting article (I hope I don't offend anyone) can be found here:

Here's to Type 3B Cows!!!!! A toast to long nights out partying and celebrating the liberated life!

Blogger Kodi said...

Wow, Katy. That was funny, sad, surprising, and poignant all in one. You forgot one thing though. The Cow Dog. That was me. Not really part of the herd, but just joining in for some fun, chasing all the cows around and pissing the farmers off. I only went to young women activities for the free food.

Blogger patrice said...

I think that if I weren't so floored by this, I'd think it were funny. 22? for real? that's the age where you're past your prime?

and you can't get into heaven unless you're married? no wonder some people are so opposed to gay marriage. I can't imagine what it must be like to practice a faith where people are totally up in your grill about things that don't affect their life AT ALL. you know what I mean? I'm not trying to diss mormonism...but are people in your church going to sleep better at night knowing you're engaged? does it seriously have an impact on their life? maybe it does.

Blogger NME said...

Fantastic post. I wish you would write about your faith and how you relate to it more often. It is really fascinating.

Amongst most of my friends you are considered insane if you get married before 27. When my sister got married at 19 I almost curled up and died - and they are already having problems because they didn't know each other or themselves well enough.

Your path might not the ideal-Mormon path but I think it is right for you. I predict you will find someone, and someone good for you because you will know who you are and what you want before you wed. I wish you luck and the patience of the "caring" folk giving you the pep talks.

Blogger lonna said...

Wow, one of my best friends who was raised Catholic experimented with Mormonism for a while, but I had never heard anything with so much detail. I got a little of the marry early thing because my mom was 20 and my grandma was 16, but I always explained how important my education was to me and it seemed okay.

I was 28 when I met Ethan, and 28 when I knew that he was the one, but we didn't get married until I was 31. Most of my friends waited until their mid-20s or later to get married.

Usually it's just the family pushing for early marriages and grandbabies. It must be weird when it's a whole community. I think that you've got things so in perspective that things will turn out very good for you in the long run. You'll be more prepared when it all finally happens, and that's worth a lot.

Blogger Jazz said...

Wow, I love this post!! But is it really like that, that with 22 you're past your prime? That'
I am 19 now but I could never ever imagine to get married at this age, I haven't even had a boyfriend so far, so I must be one of the cows who the farmers didn't even look at haha^^

I think the best time to get married is when you feel you would like to and you also found someone. Marrying earlier just because everybody wants you to, maybe makes them happy but not you. Well, that's my opinion...

Blogger Katiemagic said...

That was beautiful Katy! Witty and heartfelt, everything my writing aspires to. Yay for group 3b!!

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