Stake Dance, 1986 (part 2)

Like I did in part 1, I have changed the names and extracted some embarrassing details.

When we arrive at Norms and I open the car door for Paige, the others having gone ahead to get a table, she gets out and gives me that same serious look she gave me at the dance, the eye contact we avoided there, and I feel close to her, closer even than when I kiss her a moment after. We go into the diner — the others are seated, menus out. Baz and I exchange a nod and smile before I sit down.

Baz is on one end of the table with Jeanine and her sister, Paige and I are on the other end, and in the middle are Paige’s friends Beth and Lisa and Lisa’s boyfriend Carl. We all order hot chocolates and some of us order pie and fries, and we chatter, watching the clock. Baz and I have late curfews at 1 am, and the girls all need to be home at midnight, either approximately or exactly. Carl doesn’t say he has a curfew but declares that the Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight. Baz and I exchange a look.

After the food arrives, the subject of graduation comes up — Carl is a senior. Jeanine asks what he’ll do next year, and he announces that he’ll go to BYU for a year and then go on a mission. The girls, all sophomores and juniors, start to weigh their options: BYU, Ricks, local Cal States. Carl is sitting there in the midst of them like a guru, a man who knows his future. Baz and I eat our pie.

Then Paige turns to me and asks, “What will you do after high school?”

I open my mouth and say, “I think I might take a few years and work on my music.”

Baz looks surprised, but he’s not as surprised as I am. The truth is that I have no definite idea about what I might do, and I was about to admit to that, but this idea of working on my music just popped into my mind, and out it came.

Beth asks, “Work on your music?”

“Yeah. Get a band together and see what happens. I’ve written a few songs, and I have quite a few more floating in my head.” I’m making this up as I go, but I’m not exactly lying here. I have written a few songs, and it would be great to start a band. Baz is trying not to laugh.

They ask more questions and I keep spinning this thing out, and I’m thinking, “Hey, why not?” I’ve never thought about this as a possibility, but as it falls out of my mouth it sounds pretty good.

Then Carl asks, “What about serving a mission?”

Well, yes. I’ve always thought I’d go on a mission, but I have not actually planned to go as a concrete fact. So I say something that’s been going through my head: “Yeah, I’ll probably go. But maybe not when I’m 19. Maybe when I’m a little older, a little more mature.”

Carl looks a little surprised, but from the look on Paige’s face, I can see this worked out — that I struck a balance between being a good Mormon and being interesting. As an actual plan it may not happen, but for now it sits pretty well.

We pay up and get going. We drop everyone off at the right places and pick up Todd from the Denny’s parking lot. As we drive back, Baz says, “So you’re going to start a band, huh?” And we all laugh and do impressions of Carl.

We find we have time to hit Tommy’s, and over chili fries, I say, “Seriously. I’ll probably do the same thing as him — go to BYU and go on a mission, because that’s what everybody does.  I don’t want to do what everybody does, but I don’t have any better ideas.”

Baz says, “I’m afraid I’m just going to become my father. He’s OK, but I don’t want to be like him just because I can’t think of anything else.”

I take Todd and Baz home and find my father waiting in the living room, working on a crossword puzzle. We smile and nod, and then he heads down the hall as I turn off the lights behind him.

Postscript: Paige and I met each other most weekends until the end of the school year, and then during the summer we found other people with whom to spend our time. She married someone I knew slightly at BYU and at last report was raising kids somewhere in Utah. I put a band together during my senior year of high school; then I went BYU before going on a mission, as did Baz. Baz now works happily as a CPA in his father’s firm, and I chose to be a school teacher, as was my father. Todd married the girl we always called Whasername, and they have six surprisingly cheerful children.

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  1. I appreciated part 1 and part 2. They were hilarious and you were a pretty mature teenager. Better than me, at least, hahah.

  2. I really like this. Its like a window into a teenage males head. Although its partially censored concerning thoughts about the opposite sex.

  3. John Mansfield says:

    In Las Vegas around 1982, the post-dance place was Macayo’s. All three of them, East Charleston, West Charleston, and N. Las Vegas Blvd., were stuffed with Mormon youth from eleven until about half past midnight every Saturday.

  4. I wish I’d been this articulate and cool when I was 16. If you had done this at the Pasadena Stake in 1986, I may have been one of “the chaperones, against the walls, arms folded, looking bored and suspicious.”

    Did you go all the way to Tommy’s on Rampart and Beverly at that hour?

  5. Norbert says:

    Grant, no. A new Tommy’s had opened in our part of the San Gabriel Valley earlier that year, I think. The Tommy’s on Rampart doesn’t (or didn’t) have fires.

  6. I say Norbert wrote this account last week. It’s much too witty, insightful and well-written to have come from the pen of a teenager.

    I particularly loved the comment that “I struck a balance between being a good Mormon and being interesting” and also, “I don’t want to do what everybody does, but I don’t have any better ideas.”

    These posts brought back lots of memories of 1980s “SNDs”, as we called them. Great job, thanks.

  7. Eric Chambers says:

    These two posts brought back a lot of nice memories of Stake Dances in the San Diego area from 1978-1982. Thrift store pants, 60’s style button down shirts, thin-sixty-style ties were the required attire. The post dance meeting place was almost always Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour.

    Stake Dances were always the biggest social event of the week for us. We usually had DJs but sometimes were lucky enough to have a band that played garage rock/power pop music. I’ still i touch with a lot of my friends from those days.

  8. Eric Chambers,

    Did you go to the Farrells in Escondido like I did in the 80s or was it another location?

  9. Eric, there were a few bands around when I started going in 83, in Whittier IIRC. They started by doing the whole dance and a deejay covered the breaks, then the deejay played the dance and the band did a short set.

  10. In highschool, I once told some people that I might delay going on a mission to focus on my band. I was totally posing, and got a nice chuckle when they were later surprised that I went on a mission at the appointed hour.

  11. These were absolutely wonderful posts. Thanks for sharing them. They do not inspire me to dig up my old journals and do the same thing; even though I haven’t read my journal from my frosh year at BYU in years, I remember it well enough to be embarrassed as I sit here. (I had a split lip that wouldn’t heal — a natural reaction to a cold, dry Utah winter by a body that grew up in San Diego — but was worried I had cancer [one of the seven warning signs!] and might die. Que clueless.)

    The journal I really would like to read — my missionary journal — alas was lost in a move about 25 years ago. That still hurts. ..bruce..

  12. I was really sad when all the Farrell’s locations started drying up. I used to go to the Farrell’s in Escondido when I was a kid growing up there. When I was in High School the only Farrell’s left was in Mira Mesa and I used to drive out there to take dates that had never been. Then just a couple of years ago I got word that they were closing, too. Pretty sad to see something as great as Farrell’s have to close its doors for good.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Norbert, if I were younger and grew up where you did we definitely would have been buds.

  14. Eric Chambers says:

    Regarding Farrell’s–We primarily went to the Farrell’s in La Mesa on Jackson Drive, although we occasionally went to the Farrell’s in Mission Valley and the one in El Cajon. Most of the dances we attended were at the El Cajon Stake Center on Orange Ave., the North Stake Center on Mt. Abernathy, the Trojan Street Building with its unusual architecture, the South Stake Center near Mt. Miguel high school and the La Mesa Building on Aztec.

    I’m pretty sure the employee’s dreaded staurday night’s between 11:00 pm and 12:30 am. Dozens of loud, boisterous teenagers would descend upon the place creating all kinds of havoc. We would often run into Trekkies at that hour of the night. We’re talking the kinds dressed up in the mustard yellow, baby blue and red tops with black pants or mini-skirts and boots. I’m pretty sure the Trekkies didn’t appreciate us either!

    When I was a senior in high school we also started to have post-dance gatherings at Jack-in-The Box and at a little taco shop on El Cajon Blvd. that I believe was called la Cotija #5–For those who know San Diego being West of 70th Street on El Cajon Blvd, at 11:30 PM on a staurday night was probably not the smartest thing in the world–but we did love those rolled tacos!

  15. Norbert, I love these.

    Though I’m sorely disappointed that embarrassing details were left out.

  16. I totally love these, Norbert. Stapley, are you certain anyone seriously believed that you would not go on a mission in order to pursue being in a band?? ;-)

  17. Mark Brown says:

    Cynthia, no man knows Stapley’s history.

    Norbert, I’m just taking note of what you ate in 5 hours: coke, CornNuts, pie, and chili fries. Throw in some cookies and punch at the dance and we are talking some real teenage happiness.

  18. Chad Too says:

    Does anyone dare to eat that combination again tonight for old-times’ sake? Bonus points for skipping the Pepto.

    I only have memories of one stake dance: held in the summertime in the parking lot of the oldest chapel in Centerville, UT (still standing!) I think it was connected to a youth conference and our bishop had gone door-to-door for a good block in every direction from the chapel to let everyone know to expect loud music until 11:30 that night. Since this was Utah, all the neighbors were ward members anyway, and knew better than to raise a fuss.

    There was one other dance I can remember where our ward (Centerville 5th) invited all the wards in the area that were also 5th Wards (Farmington, Woods Cross, Bountiful, Kaysville, etc.) for a Big-5 dance. That was fun if only because we got to meet kids from other stakes besides our own.

    Clearly, the Stake Dances were very very important outside the Zion Curtain. I just don’t have a memory of them being as big of a deal in Davis County, Utah in the early 80s.

  19. Norbert says:

    amri, my narration of dropping people off was espeically painful … you may notice how I skirted that here.

    Mark Brown, you know how some journals mention the weather in each entry? Mine do the same with junk food.

  20. Matt W. says:

    Norbert, you are awesome. We wouldn’t have hung out as teens, partly because I’d have been too dorky, and partly because I went to Catholic School.

  21. This journal is awesome. My teenage journals suck.

  22. This is great. The same sorts of events in my journal reads like:

    “Went to a stake dance. It was fun. Met a nice girl. We danced a lot.”