By P.Q. Gump
Sunstone’s sixth issue (Summer 1977) included a cover article titled “Endangered Species: The Single Mormon Man.” The following is a condensed reprint of a sidebar authored by Orson Scott Card under his pseudonym P.Q. Gump.
AS A DIVORCED woman with a child, my dating life (such as it is) naturally includes a lot of older single men—in their late twenties and early thirties. Some of them were very nice. But there are four of them that I hope resign themselves to ministering angel status, thereby removing the hideous possibility that some poor, desperate woman might actually consent to live with one of them for eternity.
First is Roger. Roger holds the priesthood. Roger never lets anyone forget for more than thirty seconds that he holds the priesthood. . . .
We broke up when in casual conversation I mentioned that I only wanted six children. You know you’re a Mormon when six children seems like Planned Parenthood. Quoth Roger: “Six children? My wife’s going to have twelve children, and that’s that.”
“Isn’t it partly up to her?”
“I hold the priesthood.”
Quoth I (hereby ending our dating relationship): “Then you have the other six babies, Roger old chum.”
My second candidate for permanent bachelorhood is Jerry the Jerk. Jerry apparently reached puberty at the age of thirty-two, and can’t get over the strange and wonderful things that are happening to him. I had the golden opportunity to be the guinea pig in his unending series of experiments. He was utterly unscientific. When I wouldn’t let him touch me here he was unable to induce that he also should not touch me there. To him, two inches to the left was all new territory, to be explored for hostile natives.
After two dates the native were hostile. . . .
Val was, to say the least, a social moron. Somewhere along the line nobody had ever mentioned the concept of manners to him. I’m not referring to opening doors for ladies and placing coats over mud puddles—that’s the advanced course. Val never had the basics.
Our relationship ended when he put his feet (muddy, of course) up on my new glass coffee table so hard that it shattered the glass. I didn’t mind the broken glass so much. What I minded was Val saying, “Look what happens when you buy cheap stuff.” I sent him a bill for $300 and he didn’t ask me out anymore.
And number four: my dear husband (ex) who gave me the name I bear. I refer to him as a single man because he is one now, and with any mercy he will remain such forever.
He has no flaws. He makes a great deal of money (a round of applause for alimony and child support, folks) and has a lot of prestige in his field, particularly for one so young. He is graceful and courteous. Women have been seen to brighten visibly (thrust out that chest) when he comes into a room. He looks like tailors pay him to wear their clothes. He always has one lock of hair out of place—the same lock of hair all the time, and the same place. . . .
His only flaw is that he has no flaws. He only married me in a moment of weakness (he fell in love with my mind) and regretted it instantly. I never could manage to keep the garbage can exactly in place. I was unable to keep my hair looking beautiful without occasionally appearing in the living room while wearing curlers. Dinner was as much as fifteen minutes late four times in the same week. And, worst of all, our child cried and it sometimes took me as much as five minutes to quiet the wee creature.
Of course he never raised his voice. Of course he never complained. He wrote me notes about how I might improve my efficiency. He Xerxoed articles from magazines on time efficiency and effective housekeeping And he phrased clever backhanded compliments, like, “One nice thing about late meals is, the food is still hot fifteen minutes after suppertime!” or, “I love it when you dress nicely around the house. It’s such a nice contrast.”
I put up with it for two years. And now I’m looking for a man who is a good Latter-day Saint who honors his priesthood (but doesn’t worship it); who wants an active sex life (but believes in occasional breaks for things like eating, sleeping, working); who is able to be natural and comfortable around the home (without constantly reminding me of the monkey cage at the zoo); and who, above all, is willing to accept my imperfections as patiently as I accept his.
If such a man exists, he’s probably married. Knowing my luck.