Sunday, June 7, 2009

Marriage & Mango Ice Cream: A Terrible Analogy

Scorching a vat of 8 gallons of milk and cream is never a good idea. Not only does it fill the entire house with a horrendous stench, it results in hours of stirring, peeling, pitting and freezing seemingly gone to waste. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that I forced down 4 bowls of our homemade mango ice cream in hopes that our tireless efforts wouldn't be fruitless. No pun intended.

The first bite was the worst. However, each bite thereafter became surprisingly more and more enjoyable. The 40+ mangoes we'd peeled and blended into the cream were virtually undetectable but there was a refreshing, almost exciting splash of something in the ice cream. The soft ice chunks in a creamy, sugary froth were beginning to taste halfway good. I emptied the first bowl quickly and went on my way, mingling with my fellow party-goers. It wasn't 2 minutes after I had put down the plastic spoon when the foulest, most unbearable taste polluted my mouth. I had to do something quick. Without another thought, I piled some more icy sludge in my bowl and began slurping and chomping on yet another tasty bowl of mango-less ice cream.

Three bouts of rancid aftertaste and three bowls later I gave up on my feeble attempts of convincing myself that the ice cream was helping. The ice cream had for short turns provided a delightful distraction during the moments of consumption but when all was said and done it was entirely to blame for the aforementioned displeasure.

And now the clever tie-in: Lately, I have fallen victim to a common problem among those of us "having gay," as an elderly chap once put it. I blame it on springtime and the inevitable surge of vow-sharing, aisle-walking and entirely characteristic spurts of merriment taking place around Utah. I was lucky enough to spend two straight weekends as a spectator/guest at two different weddings last month and both times I came away with a yucky taste in my mouth. Like scorched milk. But longer-lasting.

The notion of marriage has become somewhat of a conundrum; I won't deny my innate desire to marry and produce offspring, but a part of me can't shake the feeling that, for me, marriage is just another pipe dream. In the glittery, shiny moments of each wedding, when he recited his vows, shedding real tears; or when she strolled down the aisle all aglow, almost floating through a dream, I tasted sweet sugary yumminess. I wanted more. I yearned to partake of such happiness. But driving home both times I experienced a tremendous feeling of despair, a foul aftertaste if you will.

It was the long drive home from the second wedding, alone with my outspoken mother, which became the cherry on top of a heaping mound of mango ice cream. You know when a parent asks you a series of questions, almost as if they've recited them several times before, and instantly you know you've been the subject of recent family discussion? Her nerves were obvious and I could see dread smothered all over her face, like she was bracing herself for the worst. Sorry Mom, now is not the time to inflict such pain. I'll spare you for a little while longer.

Do you have a girlfriend? No. (Ha!)
Anyone you're interested in? No. (Ummm... well....actually...)
Do you ever date? No. (Not girls. Faking interest gets old incredibly fast.)
Do you hang out with your fun-lovin', social-superstar, dating roommates? Yes. (No.)

It reminded me just how formulated Mormon lives are and how when something strays from the norm in the slightest degree, red flags instantly wave and whirl around it. (And now, for the final allusion to scorched ice cream): Daily it seems, I force down numerous helpings of meeting expectations, playing the role of innocent straight boy, careful not to draw too much attention to myself. But several bowls of such scorched pretense leaves me with the nastiest taste in my mouth. And sometimes I fool myself into thinking the only way to rid myself of it is to eat more. Boy, I can be such a fool.