Monday, August 9, 2010

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: Clarified!

People often ask me if [The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance] is a book about Halloween. Sadly, it’s not, it’s named after an actual LDS church dance that I’ve attended every year for the last nine years that takes place in Manhattan. That being said, I LOVE Halloween. My favorite thing about the bizarre holiday is what it does to my imagination. Like how I felt when I read [The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, One-Hundred Years of Solitude, or Where the Sidewalk Ends] for the first time. And even as an adult I can get completely lost in the making of an original costume. Hours will go by and I will still be hot-gluing.
Although, using my imagination has never been difficult. I grew up in a very inventive home, thanks, in part, to my father. He had a way of making our home a party. On one occasion, he came home from a boring day at the office and yelled, “Line up, tallest to shortest.” He’d seen this in The Sound of Music and had been using it ever since.
All five of us kids lined up against the wall.
“Do you guys know what cereal killers are?” he asked.
We shook our heads no.
“You guys are the cereal killers!” he said emphatically.
He piled us into the van and drove us to Fred Meyer. While he bought us masks, gloves, and squirt guns, we each got to pick out any cereal that we wanted.
From there we headed to several of his friends’ houses, assembling in a clump on their doorsteps while Tina, my oldest sister, rang the bell.
As the door opened we cocked our squirt guns with one hand, and held up our cereal boxes with the other: “Hands up,” we yelled. “We’re the cereal killers!” Then, at my father’s instruction, we went into his friends’ houses and forced them to eat cereal.
It’s only when I tell stories like these to friends that I realize exactly how bizarre my childhood was
Celebrating Halloween fit right into this insanity. We were encouraged to dress however we saw fit: Earwax, an ink stain, or a melting iceberg, nothing was off limits.
The best costume I ever came up with was in fourth grade. We were having prawns for dinner one night in early October when the idea came to me. I’d taken all the discarded prawn heads and put them onto my fingers and I was chasing my younger sister around the house when I caught a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror. With prawns for fingers I looked like the most magnificent witch. I decided to replicate this look for Halloween, only I went even further. On top of prawn fingers, I had a pointy witch hat, painted green face and I added a jumbo pickle for a nose. Best costume ever award… here I come, I thought.
I was genuinely surprised when all the Minnie Mouses, Batmen and Rambos, didn’t get it.
“That’s disgusting,” the Little Mermaid informed me.
“You smell,” a Transformer said.

I’d like to say that I stood up for my costume, but I didn’t. I ate the pickle, since I was never one for wasting food. And then one by one I pulled each prawn head off and tossed them into the garbage can. Their beady little black eyes looked up at me, Don’t leave. It was time for the all school Halloween parade. I had no choice but to go.
My little brother, dressed as a tree-frog, spotted me walking at the front of the parade.
“What happened to your costume?” he ran up to me and asked. Wearing an oversized green t-shirt with green plastic kitchen gloves taped to his hands and feet he looked more like an amoeba than a tree frog. I gestured for him to go away.
“Didn’t you want to be a witch?”
“I am a witch,” I yelled.
“Then where are your hands?”

It’s moments like these that make you love your family more than anyone else. And it’s for moments like this, that holidays were invented.


  1. Love the image of a kid running around with prawn heads on their fingers. Clearly I wasn't inventive enough when I was young.

  2. Elna,

    This is the first time I research an author for a book that I random picked at the book store. I am very curious about world religion, and try to read as much as possible about it.
    It is the first time that I encounter a book about Mormons, and their philosophy, that made me laugh and enjoy every minute of my reading.
    I bought the book couple hours ago and already finished, and I really would like to show my appreciation about your writing. Besides the fact that is a a very fun book to read, it is also an book that demonstrate a different point of view about the Mormon religion/philosophy.

    Thanks for your piece of art! I will be looking for your next work!

    Have a great week!

    PS: Are you going to the Halloween party this year? hehehehe

    Lia Leite
    Orlando, FL

  3. Thank you so much for your book. As a mormon, I found it so refreshing. Such a change from the kind of book you'd find at Deseret Book, a place I'm sure this book is banned from. Did I say 'book' enough times yet? I loved that you were completely honest, you shared your faith, your doubts, and all those embarrassing moments that most members of the church won't admit to for fear of being judged. I grew up outside of the Utah/Idaho bubble and could completely relate to your dating experiences. I kept laughing out loud thinking "Almost that exact same thing happened to me!" And to take it one step further, I also have an older sister named Tina who is 900 camels prettier than me. Keep writing, and I'll keep reading.

  4. Anyone with a science background knows that a belief in a god is utterly irrational. They also know that Joseph Smith, Jr. is no different that L. Ron Hubbard. Both created a religion (as all religions are, quite frankly) from whole cloth to manipulate and steal from people. The very fact that neither Jesus nor Mohammed ever existed further demonstrates the fallacy of religion. Religion and a belief in a mysterious bearded man in the sky are utterly absurd.

    Lastly, the fellow in Arizona who clings tenaciously to the belief that he and his friends were visited by extraterrestrials, though possible, is entirely unlikely and, put bluntly, he is a mouthbreathing batsh*t crazy wingnut.

    I recommend you read the following:

    "god" and "jesus" are myths and all religions have stolen from from prior ideologies including Druidism, Mithrasian faiths, Egyptian dieties, etc. All absurd and false, just as all religions are absurd and false today.

  5. anon at December 4, 2010 8:21 PM
    I am going to to have to go ahead and disagree with you

  6. I have a science background (medical researcher) and 100% believe in religion. So the comment about "anyone with a science background knows that a belief in a god is utterly irrational" is an incorrect statement. Science is based on observable evidence; since the idea of a God in a heaven is not something that can be observed, scientific theory cannot prove nor disprove the existence of God. Religion is based on faith, not scientific research.

    Having said that, I have read the New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance because I am a) from New York and b) a former Mormon and found it to be hysterical! I actually cried from laughing so hard! Thank you, Elna! Although I am no longer Mormon, I related 100% with your stories. I actually changed religions because of the some of the difficulties you mention in the book, however, have found a faith that makes me just as happy. I hope you write more!

  7. I was raised in the Baptist church so I only dressed up once for Halloween when I was 5. I guess the pastor got to my parents during a sermon, because that was the last time. I dressed up one other time but it was as Mary at a church "Fall Festival". So when I worked at a place that encouraged us to dress up I jumped at the chance. I was the ripe old age of 32! This was 5 years ago and I've had so much fun every Halloween since.