Monday, July 30, 2007

coffee, cigarettes, and cognitive dissonance

Chilling with my never-Mormon sister-in-law (finally, someone I can really be myself around!), I decided a afternoon iced coffee was in order. So on the way to our kids' swimming lessons, we stopped by a shop and ordered a iced latte for me, an iced green tea for her, and an ice water for the kids. After the lessons, she dropped me off at our mutual mother-in-law's place. This was the first MIL had seen of me and my son since the big family reunion in June, so she came out to the car to greet us.

I couldn't help but notice where her eyes drifted: right to the cup holders where three Starbucks cups sat, empty. As she talked to us and the kids, her eyes went from one cup to the next, to the next, and back to the first. She must have looked four times at each one. Her face showed mild confusion.

I smiled, because I recognized that look. I've made it myself. It was the look I had on my face when I saw cigarette butts in Jack-Mormon brother- and never-Mormon sister-in-law's flower bed in front of their house. I looked and looked at those cigarette butts, trying to figure out how they could possibly have gotten there. That my brother-in-law smoked couldn't be the explanation. Could they be from his non-Mormon friends? He was too good, too Mormon (never mind that he hadn't attended since high school), too father-of-two. My brain wouldn't really let me have the thought that the cigarettes were his, though it should have been the most obvious. They were, of course, his.

Just as the coffee cup was, of course, mine. Perhaps it had never occurred to my mother-in-law, just as it had never occurred to me, that people who leave the church probably don't follow the silliest of the rules.


Sideon said...

Soy latte grande, no foam, please.

But lemonade with fresh squeezed lime and a hefty amount of vodka works wonders, too.

hm-uk said...

It took all the courage I could muster to drink a beer in front of my mother, in my own house! I'm almost 40 and it seems that that good ol' WoW has a longer lasting impact than I could have ever imagined!!

JulieAnn Henneman said...

The sad part is that the "silliest of rules" is your (and my) paradigm NOW. Then, it was huge; the coffee cup signified independent thought, dissonance, self-discovery, living in the NOW--all things deplorable and frightening to people who are stuck in the spiritual first grade.

Aren't you glad you decided to grow up?


Robert said...

I remember getting a lecture from my Mom about the danger of becoming an alcoholic the first time I ordered a drink with my mother present. My response was to order a second. I knew that I had no risk for alcoholism, and that a drink like I chose was just a tasty treat right then. I felt no real need to argue with my Mom other than to say, "Mom, I am fine. This will not even get me drunk. Just chill out. We're on vacation, remember?"

I seem to recall it prompting my brother-in-law to order the same thing (it was effectively a milkshake with Bailey's and a couple of other sweet ones in it). In the end, I think learning not to sweat your parents' criticisms (and/or your in-laws) is part of establishing yourself as an adult. Just my thought.

For answers to the "why did you stop drinking, then?" consult Julie's recent post about bars.

JulieAnn Henneman said...

thanks for the love, Robert :0)

from the ashes said...

sid- Hell, ANYTHING with a shot of vodka feels better, no?

hm-uk- Great milestone to get over! The WoW is powerful, isn't it?

julieann- nice bar story. I've been in bars in Utah, and I've been in gay bars outside Utah. But never have I seen that kind of disrespect! (I loved the gay bar I went to in AZ; the guys were picking up on my husband--I was so flattered!)

Robert- I used to think one drink meant alcoholism, too. Silly.