If dry-humping could produce a vapor, a filmy dust that settled over a room whenever two clueless, semi-asexual torsos awkwardly bumped together in guilty first-time ecstasy, it would smell the way that the Adam's Mark smelled last Thursday. Or perhaps it was eunuch sweat. Maybe the odor that filled that stale, somewhat Christian room was the scent of eunuch sweat. Because the Smart Marriage Conference School and Youth Institute was in town, touting healthy marriages, healthy divorces, healthy dating, healthy single life, healthy everything — and underlying all of those healthy choices, although nobody would dare mention it, was sex. Even if it was clumsy, cumbersome, pedestrian sex — as opposed to motorist. When you get a bunch of teachers, youth-group leaders, Ph.D.s and professionals together in one room to let their proverbial hair down, they become a little deranged with the freedom. Sort of like La Moveda in Spain: After Franco died, fascism fell and the kids went fucking nuts: drinking, partying, screwing, losing international soccer tournaments.
Same thing here. Just G-rated.
"You really should come back for our speech tonight," Beverly Rodgers, author of The Single Phenomenon: 10 Brutally Honest Reasons People Aren't Getting Married, told me in her sweet Southern accent, before adding a wink. "My daughter is 23, and she's in seminary school here in Denver. She and a bunch of her friends are coming."
Smart Marriage Conference School and Youth Institute
Seminary chicks! Goddamn, Beverly, I couldn't be more excited if you told me a mule cart full of sister-wives was on the way! I had to bite my tongue to keep from firing back: "Well, can you guarantee I can fuck one of 'em, Bev? Because if so, you've got yourself a deal."
But since I didn't fire back, Bev continued imparting interesting information. For example, the healthy ages to get married in America are 29 for a man and 26 for a woman. That number is not as critical for women as it is for men, though, because men over thirty tend to be "set in their ways," she said.
In other words, fellas, if you are over thirty and not married already, you are a total loser freak weirdo who probably has halitosis and a bad haircut. And you don't stand a chance with Bev's daughter.
"Did you know that single people more often than not eat lunch alone?" Bev asked, revealing this stat as though the act of eating alone was so desperate as to evoke pity. "And did you know that on average, single people only spend four to five days a year with children?"
Then Bev told me that she and the hubby — they're originally from Charlotte, North Carolina — are on the "circuit" right now and will soon take their healthy-marriage message all the way to South Korea and Singapore. Although from what I've heard about Singapore, single people there spend way more than five days a year with children.
After chatting with Bev, I wandered over to a booth called "Nurturing God's Way," dodging an uncanny number of attendees toting oxygen tanks along mine. The booth was manned by a woman from Atlanta. Rather than ask my real question — which was why all the creepy Christian healthy-relationship people were from the South — I asked the woman about her program. "We preach empathy," she told me. "We teach you to do for your children what Jesus did, who died on the cross."
"To be a better parent, we're supposed to crucify ourselves?" I asked.
"His empathy," she said. "To carry on his empathy."
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At this point, our conversation came to a violent and jarring standstill. So I skulked away, realizing that I was not going to see eye to eye with many of these people and I might as well start collecting all the free shit I could before they tossed me out. And, man, was there free shit! I picked up about thirty pens, one with pink ink. (You know the best thing about pink ink? If you mash the two words together to make one word, it's still pink!) There were also magnets and foam balls, keychains and lanyards. And the pamphlets? Brother, they were out of this world.
One was called — no joke — "My Sibling Has a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Can I Catch It?" I also snagged a copy of "Tips for Teens." According to the pamphlet, modern-day slang words for alcohol include "booze, sauce, brews, brewskis, hooch, hard stuff and juice." And how can you tell if your friends have a drinking problem? They exhibit one of the following signs: They get drunk on a regular basis, they lie about how much alcohol they consume, they believe alcohol is necessary to have fun, they have frequent hangovers, they feel run-down and depressed, and they have blackouts.
Well, dang, outside of being honest about my brewski inhalation, looks like I'm on track to be a full-fledged teenage alkie!
Thank God for this conference, which taught me that I'm not living healthy in all sorts of crazy, Christian ways. Lesson learned, I left the Smart Marriage Conference School and Youth Institute in a hurry. My stomach was beginning to growl, and I had a lunch date for one.