Monday, February 1, 2010

Is the Pope Catholic?

Every year, my mother-in-law takes me to this great library fundraiser called "Murder on the Menu." It's a luncheon where every table has a published mystery author and you get to visit with them and ask questions. They take turns participating in a panel discussion in between eating and drawing for door prizes. It's a really fun event.

The headliner this year was Joanne Fluke. She writes cozy mysteries where there's a murder, several recipes, and an amateur sleuth (the same one every time) that always solves it. I've read and enjoyed several of her books.

The first year I went, I was at the table with Stephen Cannell. You don't know him by name but you know him: the guy invented the A-Team t.v. show. How cool is that?

This year...

Well, I didn't sit with either of them. I sat with an author I hadn't heard of but her book seemed interesting. When she made her way to our table, my proud mother-in-law introduced me as a fellow published author (my books don't come out until next year but I thought that was cute). The author, named April, was suitably encouraging. "Oh, what do you write?" she asked.

The answer always earns me a fun reaction. "I write Mormon chick lit."

Now, in a roomful of Mormons, usually you get, "Oh, cool." In a room full of non-Mormons, it's either confusion, amusement, or blankness. I understand all of these reactions. I'm quite used to them. My favorite is when I get a laugh, because it's never mean-spirited. It's usually startled because the answer is so unexpected. It's fine. It's all fine.

But I got a new reaction yesterday. This April said, "What do you write?"

I said, "Mormon chick lit."

She said, "Oh." Then, "Well, it's great that there's a t.v. show out there to support that."

Uh . . . ?

This time I stared at her blankly.

"You know," she said. "Big Love."

Cue groaning and a mental head slap.

I thought about the eight thousand things I should have said. I thought of them all right at the moment. But we also had an entire table of people that made me think, "This may not be the time or place."

But if I'd been more on my game, I'd have said, "Big Love isn't about Mormons."

There are no such thing as Fundamentalist Mormons. They're just some people who do crazy stuff and then call themselves Mormon but the crazy stuff they do isn't anything like what Mormons do. It'd be like if I put on a glittery, conical hat and decided to call myself Catholic. Nay, the Pope.

You don't get to say it and have it be true.

So some time today I need to look up her website and send her an email making that gentle distinction. But for all of my non-LDS friends that come by here for visits: FLDS is just a name. It's got nothing to do with being Mormon. Big Love has even less to do with being Mormon. You can get a basic outline of our beliefs here.

But you know what really offends me? This lady clearly had no idea what chick lit is. I've seen the commercials for Big Love and there's no WAY that's chick lit.

No, think a chick flick, only in book form. And it has to be the kind of chick flick with a young, hot guy and a girl who either starts with great fashion sense or ends up with great fashion sense. There are lots of fantastic shoes and sassy girls and smooching of aforementioned hot guys. Not so much creepy polygamists.

Anyway, my psychic wounds were healed somewhat later that night when I got to go to the Monster Truck Jam. Because I asked my husband to get me tickets. And he did. Because he doesn't find it odd that one weekend I ask to go to the ballet and the next the truck show. And he takes me. Because he's the best. When I saw his online dating profile (that's how we met), it said he wanted: Someone who's kind, vivacious, and loves to learn about new things; who'd enjoy Shakespeare one evening and bluegrass at a downtown speakeasy the next.

And that's why we're married. So who is someone chirping about Big Love in the face of My Man and my kids at Monster Truck Jam? No one to worry about, that's who.

25 comments:

Annette Lyon said...

Definitely track her down and clarify.

And now I have an image in my head of you in an sparkly white cone hat. Awesome.

MommyJ said...

I have so many moments in life that are absolutely full of "oh, if I'd just said THAT" feelings.

I can't wrap my mind around people really thinking Big Love is all about the Mormons. Makes me wonder what shall we say, interesting conversations go on behind my back...

Happy Mom said...

Wow! One of my pet peeves is that they have the label "Mormon fundamentalist"

I've been in this church my entire life and if multiple wives, long braids down your back and raising goats were a fundamental part of the religion, I'da heard about it!

Anyone who doesn't know that faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, are Mormon fundamentals is woefully ignorant on the subject. (which is just fine unless your gonna start talking about it like you actually know).

Looking forward to reading your chic lit!

LisAway said...

Maybe she wasn't saying that Big Love is anything like chick lit, jut that, obviously, Mormon chick lit must have the same intent (or at least effect) of misinforming the general public about "the Mormons" for purposes of entertainment. That IS what Mormon chick lit is, isn't it?

LisAway said...

Oh, and to answer the question posed in your title, Yes he is. Poles used to like to say, "Is the Pope Polish?" They don't really say it anymore.

Becca said...

Maybe somewhere, there's that silver lining -- that this totally corrupt idea (Big Love) is allowing people who will "open their mouths" to clarify and, dare I say it? even testify

Susan said...

I agree with Becca. Here's your chance to say something that will make a lasting impression. Besides, this lady will be thanking you later that you set her straight. You'll save her from saying something ridiculous like that again. You're doing her a favor. Big Love=Mormon chic lit! I'm surprised you didn't burst out laughing.

Kristina P. said...

I totally thought Murder on the Menu was going to be PETA related.

I probably would have froze too. It's so fascinating to me that people STILL think we are Big Love. Sigh.

Kaylie said...

Yup, nothing more offensive than people screwing up literary genres. :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

oh I wish you could've corrected her!

wonder woman said...

I can't believe she said/thought that. It just seems so.....unenlightened. On so many levels.

Sarah M Eden said...

So does this mean I have to quit wearing my big white conical hat to church? Dang.

DeNae said...

I wouldn't have frozen at all. I'd have set her straight then and there and essentially HOSED my future career for time and all eternity. The e-mail idea's a great one. Taking DeNae with you to such events might require careful thinking or at least a taser.

And I knew who Stephen Canell was. He's writing books now, I noticed.

The really embarrassing thing about all of this is that author admitted knowing ANYTHING at all about that show. I think that's more an indictment on her life choices than NOT knowing anything about the Mormons.

Carolyn V. said...

So glad you are speaking up and clarifying! Woo hoo - you go Melanie! I always go blank when people ask me religion questions. I wish I was better at it.

She didn't know what chic lit was? I'm a little surprised.

Aubrey said...

This would explain why my first four Big Love/LDS chick lit crossover novels were rejected. Hmmmm... back to the drawing board.

Andrew & Sarah Clawson said...

I was confused by the last comment- seems like someone is selling something.Umpf! Anyway, An email sounds good- I think it's best if it's in a calm, thought out way, you can set that woman straight. Sometimes that's better than correcting the person on the spot- because one never knows how "heated" the conversation can get. Get this... The National Geographic did a cover about them as well this month! YUCK!!!

Kimberly said...

You could so pull off that hat.

Melinda said...

It makes me so sad how little people know about the LDS religion. You know we're a huge church right?! Why is it that the only thing we're associated with is polygamy, its super annoying! (I know some people know about our religion, it just seems like the general public doesn't know much past polygamy, and thats just sad.)

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm with DaNae. I probably would have behaved...not so great.

Chris said...

I think Ms. Fluke is wonderful. I have all her books and think Hannah is a hoot. She better marry Norman and not that horrid Mike. I'm so jealous that you got to meet her.

That Girl said...

Ugh. Ugh ugh UGH.

Please write her an email. Please.

Amber said...

Umm...my husband is a convert. His family has asked us some very interesting questions....

Emily said...

It always ruffles my feathers when I meet an ignorant intellectual person.

We are sooooo misunderstood!

Kazzy said...

First of all--- I love that you went to the truck show!

The way people think of Mormons still baffles me.

Heather of the EO said...

I'm not even Mormon and I'm confused. I'm sorry there are so many ignorant people. I know there are, I too hear things people say and shake my head. Usually I'm just amused by how clueless they are about what ya'll believe/do. Sometimes though, I must admit, I get mad and want to walk up and tell them off. So I guess I'm just impressed that you didn't say something nasty, because I think I would have.