Saturday, April 9, 2016

Waste not, want not...

Fellow blogger Alexis wrote a post this morning that has inspired me to write one of my own.  For some reason, Alexis has many eccentric friends and relatives.  One of her friends happens to be related to a person who takes being frugal to pathological lengths.  As I read about Alexis's friend's uncle, who reuses Saran Wrap and refuses to waste anything, I was reminded of the first time I read Secret Ceremonies by the late Deborah Laake.

Secret Ceremonies is a somewhat infamous book among members of the LDS church.  Though I didn't know many Mormons back in 1993, when the book was first published, I ended up buying it from a local drugstore.  I remember reading it and having a really hard time understanding all that Laake wrote about.  For instance, she described the temple garments, which are special underwear faithful Mormons wear after taking our their endowments in a religious ordinance.  Not having been exposed to Mormonism back in the 90s and not being able to use the Internet, I had difficulty imagining what the garments looked like.  The way Laake described them, I assumed they were like muslin wraps around the body and underneath clothes.  It wasn't until I started living with Bill that I saw what they actually looked like.

Anyway, Deborah Laake had been raised a good Mormon and was attending Brigham Young University, even though she could have gone to many fine non church affiliated schools.  She was at BYU, not really to get an education, but to snare herself a husband.  From what I read in her book, that was more her parents' idea than hers.  She wanted to be a journalist.

Laake didn't have a whole lot of luck with men.  She watched forlornly as her friends got engaged and married returned missionaries before they were even twenty years old.  She finally ended up marrying an older guy named Monty.  I don't remember Deborah Laake necessarily even liking Monty much, let alone loving him.  But, by LDS standards, they were both considered a bit long in the tooth to still be single.  They ended up getting a temple marriage.

Seems to me that in the book, Laake wrote Monty's father gifted them with a box of condoms, which he said they should reuse.  According to the article I linked to above, Laake's father is the one who suggested the reusable condoms.  In any case, they had a box of twelve that lasted their entire nine month marriage, thanks to Monty's faithful washing and drying after each use.

I don't think recycling is a bad thing to do.  Reusing things that can be reused is a very wise and Earth friendly practice.  But condoms?  I don't know about that.  Of course, Deborah Laake never did get pregnant.   After getting a civil divorce from Monty, Laake learned that in the eyes of the church, the divorce would only last until death.  Once she and Monty were both dead, they would be reunited as man and wife for eternity.  Why?  Because they were sealed in the temple when they got married.

Several years after her book was published, Laake died by her own hand.  I read that she had breast cancer that was not going to get better.  Rather than wait for it to consume her, Laake chose to end her own life on February 6, 2000.  Many people, particularly members of the LDS church, claimed that Laake was mentally ill.  Perhaps she was.  If she was mentally ill rather than suffering from breast cancer, I might say that her suicide was a waste of a life.  Imagine being so frugal that you wash out your condoms, but end up killing yourself at age 47.

Laake ultimately did become a very successful journalist.  A lot of Mormons thought the book was full of lies.  Having read her book with Bill, who is himself an ex Mormon, I know that it's not full of lies.  However, Laake's story is rather bizarre and may not necessarily represent the norm of people who are LDS.  She seemed to have a lot of hang ups about sex.

I remember meeting a Mormon couple in the Peace Corps.  I commented that I had read Laake's book.  I had no idea what the people in the church thought of her or how the book was received.  Indeed, I knew very little about Mormonism at all.  I distinctly remember the male half of the couple chastising me for reading a book that was "full of lies".  It didn't occur to me at the time, but I should have asked him if he'd even read the book.  I highly doubt he did because church members were told not to read it.  It was considered "anti-Mormon" literature and a real threat to church members' testimonies.  And yet, I, as someone who isn't LDS, was somehow expected to know that Laake's book was regarded as "trash" by church members.

I had no way of knowing back then that I would meet and marry an ex Mormon and would one day re-read Laake's book and find out that it wasn't full of lies.  Deborah Laake may have been a little eccentric and perhaps even "crazy", but she was also an award winning journalist, not some hack.  Of course, she also listened to the male father figure who advised saving money by reusing condoms.  So what do I know, anyway?


  1. I actually thought about Deborah Laake and the re-used condoms as I was sharing about Meredith's dad and his extreme frugality. it seems like after the fact, Laake's father somewhat admitted he was full of hot air in terms or rinsing and re-using the condoms and that he had never actually had success with that himself.

    In terms of Secret Ceremonies, I really enjoyed it. There were areas where I felt she was whining over nothing. once case in point was the time when she worked at the health club, and the time of the week arrived when the females all cleaned the jacuzzi. It was standard procedure for everyone to strip down to their underwear to clean it. she felt pressured to do the same, then whined about everyone thinking her underwear was strange because she was wearing garmies. I don't even wear garments and still there is no way in the world that I would strip down to my underwear in fornt of other people to clean a jacuzzi or anything else, whether or not I was wearing garments. she should have just refused. i don't even think you're really supposed to expose your garments under similar circumstances. Nonetheless, it was a great book.

    I think Deborah Laake was diagnosed as bi-polar. I'm not sure what other mental health diagnoses she may have had. I think it's accepted by everyone except the Mormons in denial that she was battling cancer.

    1. It's been about twelve years since I read that book and I didn't bring it to Germany with me. Now I wish I had it here.


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