Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Before You Meet Prince Charming: Chapter Six - Part Three

The exhortation section of Chapter Six drags badly.

In the hands of a different author, I might think the author was demonstrating the painful strain that waiting puts on humans by making the reader slog through long anecdotes that lack any internal story arc.

From this author, though, I think the issue is an absolute lack of life experience.  The stories remind me of talking to my cousins when they were toddlers.  One cousin gave me a breathless description of how the grocery store was out of peas when they went shopping and so "mama had to buy green beans!!!".   Her twin sister detailed the horror of having a bunny appear out of nowhere in the yard when they were playing and running terrified into the house.

Funny stories from the mouths of two-year-olds.  Agonizingly dull when told by a 26-year-old author of a self-help book.

This section starts with Sarah talking with a 12-year-old after a talk delivered by Sarah and her dad.  The twelve-year-old has a boyfriend which Sarah is silently aghast at.  Sarah attempts to use leading questions to get the kid to realize that dating a non-Christian at least six years before the girl sees herself getting married is foolish.  The tween seems wonderfully immune to Sarah's line of questioning and mentions that it's hard to wait.  Sarah mentally devalues that statement by saying that the tween hasn't had to wait as long as some other people - but she walks that idea back in the next sentence.

I don't think it's a great idea for a 12 year old to be in a serious dating relationship, but Sarah never bothers to ask what "dating" or "having a boyfriend" means to the tween.  Asking that question, however, requires understanding that "dating" is not a single monolithic concept practiced identically by all age groups.  Ms. Mally would also have to be willing to learn from a less "emo-pure" person - an idea that is clearly beyond her worldview as demonstrated by this book...repeatedly.

The next page can be simplified to "God wants us to wait because God's Plan for us requires waiting."  Ms. Mally misses the circular nature of the argument.  She also lists a few Biblical characters who are required to wait without discussing the nature of their waiting.

After that warm-up, Sarah launches into an example of waiting in her life.
"How much longer, dad?" I complained.
I was about 13 years old, and Dad and I were late for a birthday party. I've been looking forward to it all day, but now that it was time to go, Dad wasn't ready. At first I tried to wait patiently, but after waiting about a half an hour, I was getting upset. After all, several families with girls my age we're going to be at this party, and I was hoping to have as much time as possible to be with my friends! (pgs. 111-112)
  • The first thing that struck me at this point was that I don't remember going to a birthday party in my teens with my parents.  By that age, my parents or the parents of a friend would drive to me to the site of the party and drop me off.
  • The last sentence has a level of unconscious pathos in it.  I went to a Catholic school and saw my friends at least 5 days a week.  While I enjoyed parties and outings outside of school, they were frequent enough that missing 30 minutes wouldn't have registered to me as a major loss of interaction time with my friends.  Sarah's intense reaction to losing 30 minutes of socialization time is a painful reminder of how isolated she was at that age.
  • The reason I dislike being late (by whatever rules a given culture uses) is that I feel that I am being disrespectful of the other person's time - but that concern doesn't seem to cross Sarah's mind.  What if the birthday girl is worried that Sarah's been in an accident?  Is showing up late going to mess up some of the party activities?  Should someone pick up a phone and call the host or hostess?  Meh - the only thing that matters is that Sarah's being inconvenienced. 
"Dad, please hurry!" I whined. " We're already half an hour late, and I wanted to be early!"

Dad was still working on getting his present together, and he didn't seem to care that we were late. He didn't even seem to be hurrying. I was feeling annoyed.

"But Dad, I hate to be late!" I repeated.

"Mom," I begged, "will you please ask Dad to hurry up!"(pg. 112)
  • Wait.  Whose birthday party is this?  I never was invited to a birthday party for an adult who wasn't an elderly relative when I was a teen. On the other hand, why would an adult man be bringing a gift to a teenager?  I can see having "family" birthday parties for a teenager in CP/QF land - but do adults have to have kids at their birthday parties?   Is there ever a point where any age group can socialize among themselves?
  • Nothing says "I've spent a lot of time and effort on this gift" like finishing the prep work 30 minutes after the party is supposed to start.  I've not been impressed by the Mally family so far in this book - and this story is not helping.
After several more minutes of complaining on my part, Dad was finally ready to go. I jumped into the car, hoping Dad would drive fast! Approximately 5 minutes into the trip, Dad suddenly asked, "Did you bring the gift?"

"No, I thought you brought it."

"Well, I better turn around."

"But Dad, we are already really late!"

Needless to say Dad turned around and we hurried home to pick up the forgotten gift.(pg. 112)
  • Let's say they left the house 35 minutes after the party started and drove for 5 minutes.  Going home to get the gift adds 10 minutes of drive time plus a few minutes of grabbing the gift.  This puts Sarah and her dad at 55 minutes late for the party - and they haven't got to the house yet!
When we finally arrived at the party, Dad and I went to the door and found out that we were early! We had been mistaken about the time! In fact we almost spoiled the surprise party by arriving too soon. it sure was a good thing that we were late! (pg. 112)
  • Oh, Sarah.  My take-away from this story isn't "being late was fine!"; it's "The Mally Family is self-centered and incompetent!"
    • Think first about the scenario from the perspective of the host family and birthday person if the party was at the time the Mally pair thought it was at.  The guests have shown up at the appointed time and the birthday person is happily surprised at all of the people who want to celebrate the day.  The party is humming along at least an hour later when Sarah Mally and her dad wander in.  How are they going to explain their late arrival?  They didn't have a conflicting event or a transportation breakdown; Mr. Mally simply couldn't be bothered to finish a gift ahead of time.  
    • The situation isn't that much better when the Mally pair realize that they are early instead of late.  Surprise parties do require that the guests show up in a certain time frame otherwise the surprise is ruined.  Getting confused about the time is very human - but adults verify the time of events if they are confused.  In fact, getting the time of the event was even easier in 1993 than it is today because nearly everyone had a landline telephone.  All Mr. Mally or Sarah Mally had to do was call the host's landline and ask the host to confirm the time.  If the birthday person answered the phone, you greet them warmly and ask to speak to the host.  It's not rocket science......
Next in the parade of mindless anecdotes is the epic story of waiting for God to provide ministry space of the assorted Mally family ministries.  Honestly, I can't entirely make sense of the story so I might have some details mangled.  The Mally Family has multiple ministries that they were running out of the home for 5 years.  The ministries have accumulated so much stuff that Sarah's bedroom and her parents' bedroom have been transformed into offices while their former occupants have moved into the basement with more ministry crap.  The family has a few opportunities for expansion without any debt fall through. (*cough* Gothardite cult member *cough*) The search for options must have been complicated by the fact that the family hasn't decided what exactly they are looking for.  Finally, the Mally Family received a second house directly behind their current house through some series of events that are not explained at all - but it was clearly divinely inspired.

Apparently, God wants people to wait  - and don't you dare shorten that wait time by planning!  To me, the family needed a climate controlled storage space to put all of their ministry "materials" like the books published by the Mally Family along with the guided study workbooks for the books.

I can't believe this chapter is going to take four posts, but there are five sections left with two quotes that boggled my mind so I'm going to stop here so the post isn't too long.

6 comments:

  1. I´m surprised she didn´t get punished for nagging. Then again: it would make perfect sense if Dad was messing with her head to teach her about obedience and waiting. Tell her an earlier starting time for the party, waste time until she´s frantic and... miraculously turn up punctually.

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  2. Yeah, that's one possibility. Honestly, I think the entire family is poorly organized - but mind games are equally possible.

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  3. I'm flashing back to a birthday party I had in my late teens. I invited a friend who I'd worked with at summer camp who was from a family that, while they likely wouldn't self-identify as Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy, tended to fit into that category. She was 19. Her mom came with her, another sister in tow, without asking us if the extra people were welcome. I didn't know her mom or her sister, and had never met them. It was weird. My parents thought it was weird, too. They were willing to let her spend a summer at Christian camp without hovering, but apparently her visiting a friend from there who lived near the big city required chaperonage.

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  4. The birthday party story reminds me of a recurring nightmare I have. Details change, but I'm always trying to get somewhere and can't. (Last night, I needed to get on an airplane, but the airport was a huge maze and security kept stopping me.) It almost makes me wonder if Sarah has trouble telling dreams from reality.

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    1. That might be why her heroine is always talking to an alligator.... :-)

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