If you’ve been around the Mormon feminist community’s block, you know that Exponent 2 is a huge deal. This amazing publication has been sharing the writings, poems, art work, and more of Mormon women for over 40 years. All Mormons owe so much to the work of the Exponent 2 and its contributors who have been curating our collective history.
The Exponent 2 relies on the support of its readers– can you donate to their fundraiser (a generous donor will be matching all funds raised on the final day, Sunday May 22!) and help to spread the word? You can find all the information about how to donate, the prizes for those who do, and more about why Exponent 2 is so awesome by clicking here.
In the meantime though, I want to go beyond platitudes and share here an example of the awesome work Exponent 2 has made possible. I’m sharing below my own transcription of “How I Met My Husband: A Passionate Interlude.” It’s a fiction piece that had me laughing out loud in the BYU Library when I first read it, and I continue to feel so incredibly grateful that this outlet exists for sharing creative works by remarkable Mormon women. Enjoy:
How I Met My Husband: A Passionate Interlude
By Chris Rigby Arrington
Exponent II, Vol. 1 No. 5 (June 1975)
When I opened the door, he extended his hand and said, “Sister Strong, I’m glad to meet you,” and with a vigorous pump of the hand, “I’m Brother Lamb.”
Uh huh, fine way to start a date, romantic, passionate.
He helped me on with my coat and said in Norwegian, “Did you buy this lovely coat in Oslo?”
“Penney’s,” I said.
His shoulders were broad, and his eyes ice-blue. Six feet, maybe six-one.
The roads were icy, and he drove so cautiously that I nearly went crazy. I wanted to grab the wheel, hit the gas, and flip a couple of brodies or do some heavy fishtailing.
We both sat there without saying anything from Steffen’s Drug clear up the Boulevard to Fourth North. He had a nervous little smile on his lips, sort of a male imitation of the Mona Lisa. When we stopped at the light he burst out with, “My favorite passage of scripture is King Benjamin’s address to his people in Alma.”
Sure, wonderful opening comment.
“I’m already a member,” I wanted to say. Instead I said, “How long did you say you’ve been home?”
He looked at his watch. “Eleven days. And you?”
I looked at my bare wrist, “Six months.”
As he looked back to the road, I could just see the rusty wheels in his head creak into motion. “She’s older than me,” he was thinking. “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” he was whimpering to himself.
“I like older women,” he said.
Unsubtle, tactless, but cute.
We waded through the snow drifts in the parking lot and up the ramp to the Fine Arts Center. On the way, he recited to me the places he had lived in in Norway and I did the same. He then deduced, most brilliantly, that we hadn’t worked, or labored as it were, in any of the same places.
When we sat down, he arranged his coat carefully around his shoulders just like Teresa Glover used to do. She was my companion in Stavanger, the one from California who used to unpack by flinging everything in her suitcase under her bed. She said crawling around under the bed every morning to find her clothes was the only way she could wake up. Her I. Magnin coat was her only possession that she cared about. I really liked that girl.
When the Utah Symphony began the “1812 Overture,” I saw that sly smile come back to his lips. I kicked off my shoes and took some bubble gum out of my pocket. I had gotten into the habit of chewing it at boring zone conferences. I offered him some gum, which he accepted and promptly put in his pocket.
A saver, huh, just like Sister Cracken. She used to save used light bulbs, empty peanut butter jars, and even the plastic coating off sausage links. The funny thing was that poor members always seemed to find a use for the things she saved. She was a true friend. I looked at his bulging coat pocket and wondered what other treasures might be hidden in there.
And then the cannons started. He was softly marching his feet in rhythm with the booms, and he looked so transformed and transfixed that I couldn’t help taking his hand. He squeezed my hand affectionately until, I guess, he realized what he had done. His hand suddenly went clammy and let go.
A Don Juan for sure. Scared witless, poor boy. And who could blame him after two years of being called nothing more familiar than Elder Lamb.
“Steven,” I said, “the concert’s over.”
He said, “I know, but I want to just sit here a minute and think about it.”
While he thought, I looked for my shoes, unsuccessfully. By the time the concert hall was empty, I informed him of my loss, and he said, “Do you think we should pray?”
I said, “No, let’s just go. I’ll come back for them tomorrow.”
He piggy-backed me out to the car, and when we started home I moved over very close to him. He fiddled with the radio, tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, and turned on the fan to relieve his “nasal congestion.”
He stopped at the light and suddenly started talking. “The most inspiring experience I had on my mission happened just before I came home. We were traveling through a little fishing village called Aleslund that hadn’t had any missionaries for eight months. We went to visit an old lady who was the only member in the town. She was so happy to see us, and she told us something I’ll never forget. She said her only link with the Church and the only thing that kept her alive was an old tape recorder and a tape of some of the hymns played on a piano. The recorder and tape were gifts given to her by a lady missionary who worked in that village.”
“Hey, was her name Sister Svenson?” I said.
“Yes, did you know her?”
“I was the one who gave her the tape. We were pals. She used to flip me for dinner. If she won I paid. If I won the meal was free.”
His eyes were wide. “You mean, you’re Sister Strange?” So he had heard the stories too. The relief program had been a great success, and I suppose he had heard about the television program I weaseled into. I wondered if the number of my baptisms had been exaggerated out of all proportions by the time he left the mission. “Two hundred baptisms,” he said under his breath.
I laughed, “I am she.” Don’t believe me, huh? Think I’m too loud? Got something against fat ankles?
He reached into his big coat pocket and pulled out a Mad Magazine which was dated August, 1959. He said, “This is the best thing I can give you.”
Vintage Mad? Incredible! He’s human.
He carried me up on the porch, and just before he turned to leave I kissed him on the mouth. His face was warm. I went into the house, and when I looked out through the window, he was sliding down the snow-covered porch railing waving his arms wildly. I think I really like him.
If you, like me, saw poignant reflections of your own Mormon dating experiences in that short story, I hope you will make haste to donate to the wonderful publication that makes sharing these treasures possible and support Exponent 2!