Friday, February 3, 2012

Living next to Big Love

I've never watched Big Love. I don't have time to watch any TV. But I've heard about it quite a bit. Why? Because I live in Utah.

I just ran to the cafeteria to get lunch and it was filled with polygamists. Like a huge party. Everyone was talking, laughing, hugging and playing with the kids. If it weren't for the weird hair, ugly dresses and running shoes with nylons you would never think anything was unusual about this group. I started thinking about my life around the polygamist families and my biases.

When I was a little kid I had a friend, I think her name was Becky. She was blond and sweet and I liked her. She lived in a huge house (compound) and had tons of "siblings;" she told me some were cousins but it was easier to just say they were all her brothers and sisters. We were friends very long because she found out I was Catholic and said we couldn't be friends anymore. Bias formed.

I don't really remember much else until college when we were talking about he group in Big Water during a psych class. They are all educated women; doctors, lawyers, accountants all living together under one roof- self sufficient but all having sex with the same guy. And an ugly guy at that. I just couldn't get it.

After I got married, I could kind of see some benefit to having a sister wife- someone to share the household chores with. Someone to delegate laundry to. And if you are the first wife, you get to boss all the other wives around. Bonus! But you also have to share you husband and again, the sex part creeps me out.

When I was in grad school, my neighbor told me she hired some polygamists to clean her house and wondered if I could use the help. Sure did! I hired them and they were cash only, under the table money. Bias -I don't like tax evaders. They did OK, but they broke my vacuum, would only use certain products and lost the key to my house several times. The one time they broke in through a window because they said they had to get paid for that day of their husband would be upset. Bias- the husband is abusive. The part that was really bad was that one of the women hoisted her sister wife up on her shoulders to get in through the kitchen window- they were both pregnant. What if they got hurt?! They don't carry liability insurance being as they don't even claim the money. The final straw was when they kept changing the day they came. I'd get everything straightened for them to clean and then they would call, "say Liz, would you mind if we came on Thursday instead?" I finally said "we are done"

I didn't like my kids seeing this example of a way of life. My neighbor thought it was great because it showed her kids how they would be if they didn't get an education. I didn't really agree. They shared dresses and kids and work and a husband. They cheated the government and broke into houses and they weren't reliable. And they were due two days apart with babies from the same guy. Obviously I have issues with that.

Then the Warren Jeffs trials hit the news. I have a friend who's husband is a defense attorney for the polygamists. She tells me they are very nice and caring people. I'm sure they are. I have seen that. And I also see the abuse and demeaning way they treat the women. I think this is my real issue with the group. The sex- not my cup of tea; the abuse- unacceptable.

But just because what happened with old ugly Warren doesn't mean its always that way. Its just like saying that all Catholic priests are pedophiles. Its just not true.

So there I sat watching this unconventional family enjoying each other- I assume they were here for a good hospital visit and not a death or tragedy- and wondered how different are they than any other person. Is the seemingly odd and unaccepted behavior of this group any worse than the people who put on airs and act perfect yet underneath the beautiful exterior is an alcoholic dad and a mom downing Prozac. Now I am contemplating the perfect family and guess what, it doesn't exist. There are definitely extremes that go too far but I think we all just amble through life looking for happiness in whatever we are given and in what we can change.

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