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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post: Disney Moments

Richard Tait is the proud father of a married son attending BYU-Idaho, and a beautiful YSA daughter getting general education credits out of the way at a junior college . He has been married to the same woman for 27 years, and its been the best 25 years of his life. Richard writes for his own blog, Mormon Third Eye, where he talks about the Third Eye ... the notorious eye in the back of the head, or the extra view of life that God blesses parents striving to do the right thing with so they can see more of life than the children they chase after. Amazingly, Richard hasn't missed a weekend post in over 230 weeks, a streak that started soon after he was released as Seattle Jon's bishop in Maryland. You can read Richard's other guest posts here and here.

Beautiful princesses dancing majestically with grotesque beasts; manly high school basketball stars inspiring teen masses with moving vocal performances in the school play; plain girls laboring in filthy cinders transformed into a Prince's true love at the ball; these are the Disney dramas that comfort us. They usually involve an unlikely hero conquering seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve a life that is lived happily ever after.

In the Disney universe, all the elements come together perfectly to form magical moments as often as one can press the rewind button on the remote. In the real world, however, they rarely occur; you have to look hard to find them. I saw this one a few years ago at a church dance.

There was a young teenage girl - to protect her future we'll call her Mabel. Outwardly, Mabel appeared to be your typical Laurel class member. Those who knew her, however, knew that she was, well, let's just say, different. She didn't fit in in almost every possible way an LDS teen queen could or should fit in; she said the wrong things at the wrong time, and didn't always care very much for the things that LDS culture demanded that a young woman her age should care about. Her Asperger's Syndrome took her social awkwardness to astronomical levels.

It was understandable, then, after successive rounds of church dances spent only occupying space in the gym and doing nothing else, she stopped showing up. He Aspergers, however, blessed her with the gift of concentration and attention to detail uncharacteristic of other young women her age. Driven by healthy, ordinary desires to be accepted by her peers, she spent amazing amounts of time sequestered in her room, focused solely on learning every kick, twirl, and step of the collection of dance moves in Michael Jackson's classic “Thriller” music video.

And then it happened. The Disney moment. It was a Saturday night youth church dance like many other dances before and after it, except that Mabel was in the house after an extended absence. Everyone was either accidentally or intentionally avoiding engagement with her, when, about halfway through the evening, the famous introductory beats of “Thriller” pulsated through the music system speakers, and crowds of youth anxiously congregated in the middle of the gym, excited to begin their wild synchronized gyrations. Mabel walked automatically to the very middle of the floor, and what happened next usually only happens in Disney movies. In an amazing display of social courage, alone in the midst of a mass of youth that traditionally shunned her, she proceeded to dance every single move in the Thriller video with perfect exactness. She was a Michael Jackson dancing zombie machine.

It didn't take long for the rest of the youth to notice her remarkable talent. Soon the dancing crowd had naturally carved a clearing in the middle of the floor and made her the center of attention for the next few minutes. By the end of the long song, after she had finished showcasing her amazing dancing prowess, they spontaneously mobbed her, immersing her in immense doses of praise, applause, and encouraging words she could only dream about during the solitary months of practice in her room. For that moment, that Disney moment, she was the hero of the dance.

I encourage all Modern Mormon Men readers to look for the Disney moments that may pop-up unexpectedly in their field of life-vision. They can be hard to find, but extremely satisfying.

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