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  1. The Taylors finished their nasal singing at around the same time as we finished our main course. I could feel the grease around my mouth. "Christ on a cracker, fundies eat this stuff all the time?" Marissa asked, wiping her mouth with a paper napkin. "Not all of them, some are very into healthy eating," Annie replied. "Dessert, anyone?" I asked. "Yeah, why not," Faye said. "It's not that bad, actually," she added, mainly for Annie and Marissa's benefit. Anna came back. "How are y'all this evening?" she asked. She had a strong Southern accent, unsurprisingly. "Very well, thank you," I said. "Are y'all related, or - " "Yes," I replied, explaining which ones of us we were related. "We haven't seen each other in a while, so we thought we'd come here to catch up." I felt it best not to explain why we hadn't seen each other; I knew that some fundies went to colleges like Pensacola and Crown, but I didn't want Anna asking too many questions. "Lovely!" she trilled. "Are y'all wanting dessert?" "Yes, please," I said. "We'll share some ice cream pie and some cinnamon rolls." I paused, then remembered something. "I'm sorry I didn't ask earlier, but is there any way in which we can pray for you?" "I recently got engaged," she replied, waving her ring around. "So it'd be neat if you could pray for my marriage." No gratitude, I thought, as we agreed to pray and she walked off. "No please or thank you," Marissa whispered; she was always one for saying what everyone was thinking in situations like this. "You'd think gratitude and politeness would be part of the SOTDRT, but apparently not," Faye said. *** Nobody took to the stage as we ate dessert, but as we left the table (after tipping with tracts, which I'd brought along) I saw the RV family walk up the steps. "Crikey, they're skinny," Faye said. I laughed at her usage of such a British term; Mom used them liberally. "Maybe they took advantage of the 50% off if you sing or preach deal," Annie commented. "Oh, they definitely would have done," I said, as we walked through the door of the gift shop. "Ovulation kits?" Marissa exclaimed, holding one. "Well, you know how much fundies set store by their fertility," Annie said. Just then, a very familiar family walked in. "Who are they?" Marissa whispered. "He's a preacher, very anti-gays and Obama," I hissed, feeling the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. I watched as his children looked at the board games. "Come on, we don't have time now, my slot is in ten minutes," he said, before the family trooped back out. I heaved a huge sigh of relief. "He's preaching??" Faye said, looking worried. "Is he going to start screeching about how men should pee?" "Let's leave before then, then," Annie agreed. I was in front of the book section, seeing which titles I recognised, when another familiar voice. "What do yer think of this?" the man asked, holding up a pair of earrings. "Very pretty," the wife said. "Did you hear ma preachin'?" Weenie Man asked. We all froze to the spot. "Y-y-yes, sir," Faye said, being polite. We'd actually barely been able to discern what he was saying, not because of his accent but because he'd been so rambly and failing in grammar. "Do you go to church?" "Yes sir." Annie answered this time, as she was able to answer the question truthfully. I never remembered what denomination she was, only that it was a fairly liberal church and that she was part of the choir. "Would you like us to come be part of yer preachin'?" Marissa was determinedly not looking at him, and was sending me a message with her eyes that read "FUCK NO!" "Oh... I... er... don't know... we're rather busy for the next few months," Annie replied. "Alright, it was worth askin'," he said, turning back to the jewelry (or joory as he'd been calling it). We left as quickly as we could, knowing that this would be an amazing story to tell on Dumb Things Fundies Do.
  2. "Dude... what is up with all these random lace doilies..." Marissa wondered aloud. Annie explained. "She sounds nuts," Marissa said. "Oh, that's only the surface," Faye replied drily. Anna returned, with a sheaf of menus. As she walked away again, I noticed that she had a silver ring on her left hand. "Big Salad?" Marissa asked. "Garnished with raw egg dressing," Annie said. Marissa gagged. "Seriously?" she exclaimed. She glanced at the menu with a look of disgust on her face. "Ooh, weens and gravy. Isn't that a breakfast dish?" "Yeah, but they don't have many starters here," Faye said. "I like sausage gravy, I'll go for that." Faye and I exchanged significant glances, but Marissa was oblivious. "Hello, are you ready to order?" Anna seemed to possess that high-pitched baby voice all young fundie women appeared to have. "Yes... three lots of picnic eggs, and one portion of weens and gravy," I said, ignoring Annie, who was sniggering. I looked back at the menu. I noticed that each dish could be served as individual portions, or could be served buffet-style with everyone helping themselves. To this end, I ordered tater tot casserole, chicken-etti, and burritos to share, as well as some raspberry Kool-Aid. Anna scribbled down the order, and, as had happened back in Summer Springs, presented us with a complementary jar of pickles. "OK, Marissa, lemme introduce you to some of these people..." Annie said, bringing out her phone. As I talked to Faye about college (I had also done political science, so we were comparing courses), I watched Marissa's face. It was a joy to behold. From the lack of utter disgust, I deduced that Annie had taken the simple decision to *not* introduce her sister to Weenie Man. "HAY-MAYUN!" We all jumped out of our skin. Filled with dread, I looked at the stage. Sure enough, Weenie Man was here in person. "Bloody hell, that nearly gave me a heart attack!" Faye whispered. "Who's that?" Marissa asked. "He's a preacher," Annie explained. "What the heck was that HAY-MAYUN?" "God knows," I said. "People on DTFD are trying to work out if it's some kind of Tourette's-type tic or something he says a la Robert Tilton's Hoo Ba Ba Kanda." As we watched on, I knew that this would be perfect to mention in the thread. Many of us had mentioned possibly going to see our various grifters in action, but nobody had actually done so. After a couple more HAY-MAYUNS, Weenie Man ended his message and walked off the stage, picking up a KFC bucket as he went. As the Taylors shuffled up on stage, having clearly brought along the entire family, I barely noticed the arrival of our starters. "What... the fuck... is this?" Marissa was eyeing her plate of weens and gravy with a look of pure nausea. "Man food eating," Annie grinned. "Why is it pink?" Marissa asked, ignoring the "man food" comment. "Red weens," Faye explained. Picking up her fork, Marissa poked at it, as though worried it would jump down her throat. "Go on, it's made with real flour!" I said, barely able to contain my laughter. Despite my misgivings, the picnic eggs were quite tasty. Looking as though she would rather be doing anything else, Marissa cut off a tiny portion and put it in her mouth. "Oh God, I'm never gonna be able to look at sausage gravy in the same way," she said sadly, putting the fork down in defeat. "That is the most disgusting thing I have ever had the misfortune to eat." At that moment, the Taylors began to sing. "Oh Christ, I thought we'd left these people behind?" Annie asked. "They're probably desperate for money now that their conferences have dried up," I reasoned. Faye, who was sitting opposite me, stared in the direction of the entrance. "What?" I asked, somewhat unnecessarily as I whipped my neck round. "Is that the Big Salad woman?" Marissa whispered. "Is that her husband? Nice pornstache." "Bit of a shame for her that a lot of the food is unlikely to be organic, or fermented," I commented. "Well, all she'll need is her Big Salad and she'll be done for the evening," Annie reasoned. The main courses arrived on foil platters with plastic tongs stuck into each dish. Marissa eyed them warily. "I hope these are better than ween puke," she said. "They're surprisingly OK," Faye explained. "They'll clog your arteries, but they're not as hideous as ween slop." Marissa picked up a burrito and bit into it. "This is a burrito?" she said in disbelief. "Where's the meat? The salsa? The rice?" "According to the originators of this dish, there's no difference in taste between burritos with meat and without," Annie said. "Huh." She continued eating it, although she helped herself to a portion of tater tot casserole. *** Here endeth Part Two. Part Three will consist of a close encounter of the fundie kind... but with whom?
  3. Clearly, this is not a fundie Sims post. This is going back to my parody fic, featuring the Mason family (mom Rebecca and daughters Jessica and Faye). Unlike previous entries, this is narrated by Jessica. Jessica has recently graduated from UCLA, and has recently begun studying at a graduate law school. Faye has embarked upon her junior year at UCSD, doing a political science degree. The family previously lived in the fictional town of Summer Springs in Kansas, but have now moved to San Francisco. *** Reading over my notes on contract law was giving me a headache. I brought up a new tab and opened up Dumb Things Fundies Do. As I scrolled through the latest Weenie Man thread, a notification popped up saying that I’d been tagged in a comment. Apparently Wa-La Diner is opening a new branch in San Francisco! Hey @jessidugg95, you in? Intrigued, I googled the restaurant. The news was indeed true. Even worse, it was really close to where we lived. I hadn’t seen anything about a new restaurant opening, but I didn’t usually visit that part of the city. I explored the website, which was promising new dishes. “Ew, gross,” I said to myself as I read the updated list. ”What?” Mom asked. ”There’s gonna be a new branch of Wa-La Diner here in San Fran,” I said. ”Oh dear. What’s ew gross?” ”They’ve got some new dishes. Including some inspired by our favourite grifter.” ”Huh?” ”Pink weens and gravy.” ”Dear Lord,” Mom shuddered. “How can these people market this slop?” “Christ knows,” I replied, closing my laptop. ”Are you considering going?” ”Dunno, I wouldn’t go alone,” I replied. Faye wasn’t coming back from college for a couple of days. She’d decided on doing a political science major and was really enjoying it. Unlike me, she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do, but I was sure she’d get a good job. I had some real-life friends who were part of DTFD, but I wasn’t entirely sure if they’d want to get involved with an actual trip to Wa-La Diner. ”No, fair enough. I was gonna suggest you should wait till Faye gets back.” *** Eleven days later, Faye was home. I’d told her about the new restaurant, and unsurprisingly she was very much up for a visit; she had always been more interested in fundieism and was more active on DTFD. I'd managed to persuade Annie and Marissa along: Annie knew about fundies, but wasn't part of DTFD; Marissa knew very little, but was always up for an "experience" and a laugh. “Dare you to order the pink weenie gravy,” Faye grinned, on the day of our visit. ”I don’t fancy food poisoning again,” I said. I’d only had a bout last week and didn’t fancy spending the night leaning over the toilet. ”How are we going to dress?” she asked. “The dress that served me so well last time got ripped, so...” ”Well, it's winter, it'll be easier to layer,” I said. “I’ll wear my denim skirt again.” We spent a while in my room, discussing college and guys and the usual things young twenty-somethings discussed. Faye still had the boyfriend she’d had on our first visit, but he was still in Kansas. “It’s weird to think that, if we were fundie, I’d probably be married by now,” I said. “Yeah. And my relationship with Charlie has gone on longer than most fundie ones, so we’d be at least engaged,” Faye replied. ”Poor beggars get no choice,” I sighed, braiding my hair. "Makeup or not?" she asked. "I'd go with subtle," I replied, carefully applying my mascara. "Yeah, I don't suit the 80s look, I don't have any green eyeliner," Faye replied. *** Annie and Marissa were already waiting outside when we arrived, dressed almost identically in sweaters, knee-length denim skirts and boots. "So, what kind of cuisine do they serve here?" Marissa asked. "It's very much of the cream-of-crap soup and packet mix variety," I explained. "You'll understand better when we're inside." The interior decor was very similar to the Summer Springs branch. We were enthusiastically greeted by a girl in a hot pink polo shirt, black maxi skirt and brown sandals. "Table for four? Right this way, we've got a table right by the stage. By the way, my name is Anna," she said. "Stage?" Marissa asked. "Oh yes, we have musical entertainment and preaching tonight," Anna replied, not noticing Marissa's tone of worry. I exchanged glances with Annie, both of us trying hard not to giggle. "Lovely," Marissa said quickly. *** Here endeth Part One. Watch for Part Two, after which poor Marissa will never be able to look at her favourite breakfast dish of sausage gravy in the same way ever again...
  4. mango_fandango

    Slightly New Direction

    I know I haven't updated in a while, but I hadn't had much inspiration. HOWEVER, I thought of something recently. Rebecca"discovers" a "new" fundie blog. This is of a fictitious family ofc. The fictitious family (Bakers) lives in a town near Rebecca. Their oldest daughter, Mary, is 22 and courting, and their youngest daughter, Emily, is seven months. The kids all have Biblical names; Emily isn't Biblical but it's a traditional name anyway (they felt 'led' to use an E name) and her middle name is Faith anyway. Maybe Rebecca could encounter this new family sometimes? Maybe I could do a few parody blog posts about the Bakers?
  5. mango_fandango

    Wa-La Diner, Part Two

    “Well, I recently began a courtship,” she said, the pitch of her voice increasing. “Oh, just like my daughter here,” I said, pointing to Faye. “Well, I’ll be sure to pray for you.” “Thank you!” said Grace. “What would like for your main course?” “I will have the Tater Tot Casserole,” I replied. “Jessica?” “I’ll go for the Chickenetti,” Jessica replied. “And you, young man?” Grace asked Charlie. “Oh… umm… I’ll have a burrito, please,” Charlie said. “And I will have the Chickenetti as well, please,” Faye said. “Thanks for the order,” Grace said, scribbling it all down. “Here are some complementary pickles and two animal crackers.” I eyed the pickle jar warily. I was not much of a fan of pickled food, unlike my husband. “Oh wow, these are so salty,” Jessica grimaced. “And slimy and vinegary. I can’t eat these.” “Dude! We should say grace!” Faye said, poking her sister. “Oh yeah,” Jessica said. “Mom?” “Thank you Lord for the food we are about to eat,” I said quickly. The singing had finished, and now a terrible scratching began. I looked up at the stage, and sure enough, it was who I’d guessed it would be. They were dressed in black and white with the occasional red accessory. The married daughters were holding their kids. “Oh crap, them,” Jessica sighed. “Hang on, where’s the oldest? Jesus Rehab?” “They seem to want to forget about him,” I replied. I too had abandoned the pickles and was eating an animal cracker. “Well, after what that asshat did, I’m not surprised,” Jessica said. “I notice his wife’s there. Such a damn shame she doesn’t have the option of divorce. She must be feeling so conflicted.” The food duly arrived. The Chickenetti was in a silver serving dish, with a pair of plastic tongs stuck in the centre. “Guess it’s serve yourself,” Faye said. “Paper plates, too.” She gave Jessica a serving before helping herself. We all quickly repeated the same grace as I’d used earlier before digging in. “So, what’s it like?” Jessica asked. “Greasy as fuck, but surprisingly nice,” I replied, careful to keep her voice down lest a family keel over at her usage of a curse word. “Mm, same with this Chickenetti,” Jessica said. “Can’t say the same about this burrito,” Charlie said. “It’s the plainest thing ever. No meat? No spice? Who on Earth made up this dish?” “They used to use meat,” Faye explained, spooning some spare Chickenetti onto his plate, “but they switched to this meatless, bean version and apparently there’s no difference in taste.” “Pfft, I call bullshit,” Charlie said. He twirled his fork in the Chickenetti. The screeching stopped, and the Taylors themselves got up to take the stage- or, at least, the parents and unmarried children did. They began singing in a very nasal chorus. “Man, I can’t take much more of this entertainment,” Jessica muttered. “None of these people have any discernible talent whatsoever.” “Too right,” Faye replied. “As long as they’re honouring Jesus it’s A-OK though.” I could feel the grease around my mouth as Grace took away our plates and the serving dish. As I reached for a paper napkin, I wondered how likely it would be that I would end up in Dr Kaczynski’s office in three months complaining of heart problems. “So… dessert, guys?” Jessica grinned. “Lots of choice there, too.” I glanced at the menu again. Ice cream pie… poppy seed loaf… apple dumplings… all the dishes I could have expected were there. Charlie went for the ice cream pie, Jessica for the poppy seed loaf, I for cinnamon rolls and Faye for cheesecake. Fortunately, by the time the dessert arrived, the entertainment seemed to have stopped for the evening. Unfortunately, they began piping in hymns over the tannoy system. “This is quite nice, actually,” Jessica said, “if a little dry.” “Mmm, yeah, I like this cinnamon roll,” I replied. “So, do you think we’ll end up coming here again?” Faye asked. “Probably not,” I said. “I don’t want another evening of screeching and wailing for one.” “Neither,” Faye replied. “It’s been an interesting experience but not one I want to experience again.” After paying (and giving the waitress a tip of tracts, like any good fundie would), we decided to browse the shop. The shelves were full of books. I recognised many of the Taylor titles. “I still can’t believe people actually buy these,” Jessica said. “They’re aimed at such a niche market. Surely all the people interested in this stuff will have bought them already?” “Yeah, I have no idea how they actually make any money,” I replied. “They’ve stopped their conferences and their IT course thing has folded. None of the sons have any concrete kind of job working at a legit company. They all seem to work for Papa Taylor.” “Well, they’re managing somehow,” Faye said. “Well, we’re not gonna buy any of this stuff, are we? I wanna get out of here.” We left the shop just as a family I didn’t recognise came in. We clambered back into our car and headed for home.
  6. mango_fandango

    Wa-La Diner, Part One

    A while ago we came up with ideas for a potential fundie-themed restaurant. I decided to write a story featuring the Masons and a visit to said restaurant. Families are referred to, although not by name. “Mom. Mom. Have you seen what’s in the newspaper?” Faye was running into the living room, waving a copy of our local paper wildly. “No, you’ve been reading it all morning. What?” “There’s a new restaurant opening. It’s called Wa-La Diner and it’s run by a fundamentalist Christian family. It’s their grand opening tonight and supposedly there are LOADS of fundies going. We HAVE to go.” The paper was swooshing so fast I could feel a breeze. Faye had an excited look in her eyes. In fact, the members of Dumb Things Fundies Do had been discussing the grand opening for a long time. I knew I could score major kudos points by going. And I was seriously tempted. I’d recently bought myself a new maxi skirt… oh, who was I kidding…? “I think we can definitely go,” I grinned. “Why don’t you invite Charlie along? We can pretend you’re courting and I’m your chaperone or something. Do you think Jessica will want to come?” “Well, she’s not as fascinated by fundies as me, but I’m sure she’d be up for it,” Faye grinned. “HEY! JESS!” My oldest daughter entered the room. “D’you fancy going to Wa-La Diner?” Jessica looked confused as an enthusiastic Faye shoved the advert under her nose. “Oh, this sounds good…” Jessica muttered. “We don’t have a huge family, though. How can we not appear like intruders?” “Mom figured it out,” Faye replied. “I’m inviting Charlie along- we can pretend we’re courting- and you and Mom are our chaperones.” “I don’t really have any suitable skirts…” Jessica muttered. “Well, we can buy you one,” Faye said breezily. The skirt- a knee-length denim affair- was duly purchased. Jessica paired it with a blue paisley-patterned v-neck top underneath which she wore a white camisole for “modesty”. Faye herself was wearing a black-and-white patterned maxi dress which was modest enough without extras. Standing in the hallway, we all laughed at each other. “Oh my god, this is going to be soooo bizarre,” Faye said. The doorbell rang. Charlie was looking wary. “What is this thing we’re doing?” he asked. “We’re visiting Wa-La Diner,” Faye said, explaining the story. “Oh God, we’re going to be seeing freaky fundies up close?” he asked. “Come on, it’ll be a laugh,” Faye pleaded. “OK. As long as we don’t actually have to talk to these Jesus freaks, I’m good.” Wa-La Diner was brightly lit. The front windows were interestingly decorated. “What’s with all the pink and lace and doilies and doll tea sets?” Charlie asked. “Oh, I know who that’ll be,” Faye said, explaining. Charlie’s eyes shot up. “She sounds insane,” he replied. “All fundies are, let’s be honest,” Jessica said, putting her hands in her pockets. The main dining room was noisy. As we waited for a waitress to arrive, I decided to people-watch. “Spot anyone?” Faye asked. “Not yet, we’re too far away,” I replied. A young woman, dressed in a bright-pink t-shirt, frilly apron and denim maxi skirt walked over to us. “Welcome to Wa-La Diner!” she said, in a bright voice. “My name is Grace and I will be your waitress this evening. How many of you are there?” “Four,” I said, whilst thinking “Can you not count, dumbass?” We were led to a small table at the side of the room. It too was covered in a pink gingham table cloth and lace doilies. “Here are your menus!” said Grace, in the same high-pitched voice. “I will be back shortly to take your order!” She walked over to another table. “Big Salad?” Charlie asked. “Oh, she’s particularly crazy,” Faye explained. “Ooh look, Taylors,” Jessica whispered, nudging my elbow. I whipped my head round. It looked like the entire clan had arrived. Mama Taylor and her unmarried daughters were all in the same outfit- white t-shirt, black floral-patterned skirt and pale pink cardigan. Papa Taylor and the unmarried sons were in simple white shirts and chinos. Each married son and his family had also cobbled together some kind of dress code. “Three guesses as to what they’ll be eating,” I muttered, spotting the meatless burritos underneath the “main courses” heading. “So, what are we all having?” Jessica asked, bringing my attention back to the table. “Hmm… there are so many classic dishes and only four of us…” I said. “I think I’ll take the plunge and go for Tater Tot Casserole.” “Ah yeah, I was gonna go for that…” Jessica said. “Hm. I’ll go with Chickenetti.” I was just about to ask Faye what she wanted when a dreadful wailing began. Thinking some poor young woman had been dumped, I looked round for the source of the noise. “It’s them!” Faye whispered. “Off the RV! No doubt trying to grift for a free meal.” “Jesus, is that singing?” Charlie wondered. “And holy crap, they’re so skinny!” “Not the husband though,” I muttered. “Ooh look! Guess who’ve arrived, all the way from Washington!” Jessica said. I looked toward the entrance and saw what Faye had seen. I recognised the mother, short hair standing out in stark contrast to the lengthy tresses all around her. The eldest daughters were looking bored, arms folded. The youngest, twins, were dressed completely identically, from the pink-and-white striped dresses to the white sandals on their feet. The only concession to individuality was that one had a pink ribbon in her hair, whilst her sister wore a purple one. “Ah, my gateway fundies,” I said. “I thought they’d ditched the skirts-only rule?” “They’re gonna be back in skirts to fit in at Wa-La, aren’t they?” Faye pointed out. “True,” I replied. “Spot anyone else?” “Yup,” she replied. “Right there, all the way from Tennessee.” I looked. Sure enough, I recognised them. It looked like they hadn’t brought along their married children- until I remembered that the married couples all had young children or were on their honeymoon. “Man, you are going to have to tell me about these people,” Charlie said, staring in disbelief at all the other tables. “Oh, don’t you worry, I will,” Faye said drily. “Hello again! What would you like to order?” Grace’s high-pitched baby voice was starting to grate on me. “I think we’ll start off with a bowl of Big Salad to share as well as some gloodles,” I said. Then, remembering a common fundie trick, I asked her if there was any way in which we could pray for her.
  7. mango_fandango

    County Fair, Summer 1999

    In this part we're introduced properly to Rebecca's friend Sandra, and her daughters Annie and Marissa are also mentioned. It was a hot summer day. Sandra and I had arranged to go to the County Fair together, not least because I had never been. “Jessica! Come downstairs, please!” My oldest daughter, Jessica, came running. Her blonde hair was tied in bunches decorated with pink ribbon bows that matched her pink t-shirt. “Jessica, how many times have I told you not to run down the stairs? You could really hurt yourself.” “Sorry Mommy.” Like all young children, her knees were constantly being scraped and covered in plasters. “That’s OK. I just don’t want you to break a bone and end up in the emergency room.” “No. Are we going now?” “Yes. That’s why I called you down.” The fair was packed. As I approached the entrance, I saw Sandra’s red hair. “Look, there they are,” I said. “Hi, Becky,” she called, waving. “Hi, Sandy. My, Annie and Marissa are so big now!” “I know! Sometimes I catch myself thinking, where did the baby years go?” She smiled at her girls. It seemed almost ridiculous that we both had two daughters, who were the same age- Annie was three weeks older than Jessica and Marissa was two months younger than Faye. We’d spent no longer than 30 minutes inside (primarily playing and failing at a hook-a-duck game) when Faye tugged at my arm. “Moooommmmyyyy,” she whined, “I wanna driiiiiink.” “OK,” I said brightly, “let’s go find one.” I took her hand and we ventured forth in search of one. I reckoned that there would be plenty of vendors. Almost immediately, I spotted a large sign emblazoned with the words “Free Soft Drinks!” Instinctively, I paused. Something was telling me that this seemed a little dodgy, that there was some catch. I wasn’t sure what, though, so I carefully ventured a little closer. It was then that I noticed two of the people standing beside the booth. One was a woman, with greying hair, dressed in a white t-shirt and navy pinafore dress (what would be called a jumper in American English). The hem stopped at her ankles and the whole ensemble gave a shapeless appearance. The other figure was a man, also with greying hair, wearing a white polo shirt and blue jeans. The polo was tucked into the waist of the jeans. I guessed they were married. A figure moved to stand beside the woman. I noticed that she, too, was in a white t-shirt and navy jumper. She had long, dirty blonde hair that cascaded down her back. She was holding a sheaf of small bits of paper. It was then that I took in the crowd surrounding the booth properly. There were five male figures, all of differing ages, dressed like the first man, who I now guessed was the father. Beside the mother stood a small girl, who couldn’t have been much older than Faye. She looked incredibly bored. Even the navy bow in her hair drooped forlornly. Who the hell were these people? Why were they all dressed identically? The age range was too wide to be a school group- and besides, it was the holidays. The girls all had long, loose hair. “Mommy, what are you doing?” “Sorry, sweetie,” I said absent-mindedly, totally confused as to who these weirdly-dressed people were. It was then that I overheard one of them speak. “Do you know the Ten Commandments?” Huh? What kind of a question was that? After observing them for a few more seconds, it transpired that getting a free drink came with being quizzed on the Ten Commandments. I grabbed Faye’s hand tighter and hurried away. I knew most of the Commandments, but I didn’t fancy discussing them with a bunch of matching strangers. I purchased Faye and myself some orange juice before going to find Sandra. “Are you OK? You look kinda weird,” she asked. “I just saw the weirdest people…” I began. “The women were all in long jumpers and they were talking about the Ten Commandments…” “You met the Taylors,” Sandra grinned, holding up a hand to stem my gibbering. “They’re fundamentalist Christians.” “What?” “Fundamentalist Christians. You saw them proselytising- trying to convert people. The little pieces of paper they were holding are called tracts.” “How do you know about them?” “I got proselytised at last year,” Sandra grimaced. “I couldn’t get away. They made me feel awful. I told them I’m religious and go to church but they still made me feel bad for not being like them. Once I finally tore myself away I scrunched up the tract and burnt it.” “Ouch,” I sympathised. “Sounds like I had a lucky escape. If they found out about my atheism they’d probably have some kind of apoplectic fit.” “Oh, they’d love you. You’re exactly the kind of person they’d target.” “Christ.” Despite being Christian, Sandra didn’t make it the biggest part of her life. We agreed on pretty much everything. She just happened to believe in Heaven. She certainly didn’t go round trying to convert everyone she came across.
  8. mango_fandango

    An Introduction (second part)

    This follows on from part one. Back in the present, I received a Facebook message from Jessica. It was a photo of her and an off-white cocktail. I guessed from the wedge of pineapple on the rim of the glass that it was a piña colada. She was revelling in the fact that she could drink alcohol now, but I knew she was a sensible girl. Even if she did get drunk, hopefully it would be a lesson learned. That was normal young adult behaviour, after all. (I certainly recalled getting drunk at a friend’s house many a time). “Great to see you enjoying your holiday Jess honey. Keep me updated when you can xx”. I hit send and smiled. Both girls assured me that I was a cool mom, not too embarrassing nor too stuffy. I knew to keep my distance when they invited friends over, having learnt from my own mother, who had been a tad overprotective. “What’s for dinner, mom?” Faye, dressed in her sister’s varsity jacket and a navy polkadot jumpsuit, entered the living room. I’d heard the door open and close but didn’t pay much attention. “Oh, hi, Faye. Umm, not given much thought to it yet. We’ve got plenty of pasta we could use up.” “Ooh, can I make some more of that pesto sauce? We’ve got basil and parmesan that needs eating.” “That would be great, honey. There are some scones left in the tin if you’re hungry.” “Famished, mom.” Although both my girls spoke in American accents, having lived here all their lives, I made sure that they experienced ‘typically British’ foods like hot cross buns at Easter time and crumpets on Saturday mornings. “Biscuits” in America looked like the English scones, but were eaten with savoury food like chicken and “gravy”- another foodstuff that had different meanings either side of the pond. As Faye started on the pesto sauce, I poured myself a Coke. Both the girls were aware of the Taylors. Faye, in particular, was fascinated by them. “Hey Mom. I was just thinking. If we were the Taylors I’d be taking photographs of every step of this pesto making process and then blogging about it later,” Faye laughed. “How bizarre! I was thinking of the Taylors too. I came across them in Costco earlier.” “Did they ask you where you’re headed when you die?” “No. Oddly enough, one of them was picking up a packet of meat and another one photographed her. I mean, who on Earth takes photographs in Costco, for God’s sake? Do they really thinking people want to see their journey to the supermarket?” “They have so little going on in their lives, even the smallest thing seems noteworthy,” Faye replied knowledgably. I thought of my own life. Outside of my job, I played badminton on Saturdays and went out to dinner with Sandra at least once a week, not to mention the Italian evening classes and Sunday afternoon book group. Faye had a job volunteering at the cat sanctuary and was part of a small, amateur orchestra where she played the flute. Jessica had a term time job as a waitress and was aiming to become a lawyer when she graduated next summer. I thought of the Taylor girls, all out shopping in a group, and rolled my eyes. No doubt their father had had a big role to play in their lives. From what I had gleaned from their blog and from an excellent online forum- Dumb Things Fundies Do- every activity had to be edifying, honouring Jesus. Children had to stay at home until marriage. Dating and having casual boyfriends was a huge no-no; when you entered a ‘courtship’ it had to be with a view to marriage. You had to have as many children “as God gave you”- i.e. no contraception. Secular influences were totally verboten- public schools were terrible, ungodly places where you could be exposed to such risqué things as girls in trousers and competitive sports teams.
  9. mango_fandango

    An Introduction (first part)

    It was a peaceful Wednesday afternoon, and for once I was on my own in the house. My twenty-one-year-old daughter Jessica was on holiday with four of her friends in Hawaii. My nineteen-year-old other daughter Faye was in Wichita with her boyfriend. They had jam-packed social lives, but also enjoyed spending time with me and my husband. I was idly flicking through the television channels. I reflected upon the fact that, no matter where you lived, programme choices during the day were always terrible. I had lived in America for twenty-three years and little had changed except the size of the screens. For a few years now I had been wanting to leave Summer Springs and move someplace else. It had been a lovely city in which to bring up the girls but I’d always dreamed of living somewhere livelier, with more going on. Jess was exactly like me- she hadn’t chosen to go to UCLA for nothing. She thrived on busyness and excitement. A couple of hours later, I was in Costco. It was the largest supermarket in Summer Springs and the one closest to where I lived. Although we weren’t at all poor, it was cheap and good for barbecues, which were almost mandatory for July 4th. Only Faye would be with my husband and me on the day, but I was comforted by the fact that Jess would be happy with friends. She was an independent soul. It was while I was in the meat aisle that I spotted them. Four women in a group around one deep trolley. One of them carried a camera. As I watched, the one with the darkest hair picked up a pack of something- beef perhaps- and the camera-carrier took a picture. I raised a sceptical eyebrow. Who the hell took photographs in Costco, for God’s sake? Especially posed ones? I took a closer look. Despite the warm weather outside, all four were wearing long skirts and sported long hair. The girl who’d held up the pack of meat turned around to grab something else. Despite conceding to the weather by wearing a multi-coloured pastel shirt, she was wearing a hot pink t-shirt underneath that went up to her neck. Hang on a second. I’d seen that shirt somewhere before. And I swore I could’ve recognised that girl’s face. As I turned into the dairy aisle, it hit me. It was the Taylors. Kansas is a solidly Republican state. It was another (albeit smaller) reason I wanted to leave; it sounds stupid to some, but I wanted to live somewhere where I felt my vote really counted. Having a Republican in charge was alright for the likes of the Taylors, but since James and I disagreed with so many of their policies, we were itching to leave. I have still spent the (now slight) majority of my life in England. Although ostensibly a Christian nation, there was nowhere near the number of religious weirdos as there were stateside. Sure, you got the occasional screeching madman in say Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Street, but you didn’t get the proselytisers and the tracts. I had first become aware of the Taylors seventeen years ago. On the hunt for a drink at the county fair, I’d spotted a sign proclaiming free sodas. My suspicions had been aroused when I’d spotted a group of people in almost identical outfits; the women in white t-shirts and denim jumpers, the men in white polo shirts and blue jeans. The cue that had led me to giving them a wide berth was hearing one of them ask about the Ten Commandments. My friend Sandra had told me about the family and that what they were doing was “proselytising”- trying to get people to convert- and that the little slips of paper they were handing out were called tracts. I had looked at the youngest girl- who must’ve been only a shade older than Faye- in her long skirt and sighed. That poor little girl. During summer, Jessica and Faye lived in shorts, or else skirts or dresses that came above the knee. Later in life they became very sporty and I just knew that Jessica’s track times would’ve been impossible in a long skirt, and that Faye wouldn’t have been able to ice-skate anywhere near as well as she did. It must’ve been boring for that little girl to hang around not understanding what was going on. Even if I was the kind of person to go out proselytising, I wouldn’t drag along kids that age.
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