This piece was originally published by The Beehive.
There seem to be an endless supply of old LDS church films depicting teenagers or young adults courting and marrying and I’m responsible for telling you about these so you don’t have to live through them yourselves. Fortunately I recently discovered how to watch Youtube videos at double speed and this has made my job so much easier.
I was already familiar with a lot of these films from my childhood. They’re all sort of the same: a promiscuous young woman in biology class pressures a girl who has the haircut of a 65-year-old schoolmarm to sleep with her boyfriend. You could immediately identify the hussy onscreen because she always had a perm and access to a convertible. In the end, either righteousness would prevail or we’d be treated to a sepia-tone repentance montage where the recently-defiled drapes herself across a bed sobbing until she is fully reformed. Sometimes the song “Sorrow For My Sins” plays and Aaron Eckhart looks on, disappointedly.
So, yeah. I’ve seen a lot of the movies. But there is a mountain of these films from before my time and I’ve recently started discovering them online and reader, it’s possible I’m being brainwashed but I’m in too deep at this point to stop.
Today, I bring you a BYU film from 1965, How Do I Love Thee?
We begin with a young woman storming into her dorm room and informing her roommate that the “secret police” are after her because she’s late for curfew “again.”
This hussy’s name is Penny and she tells her roommate Jen she was out with her boyfriend, Norm. Penny laughs, “Norm gets so carried away!”
“Maybe you should spend more time at football games and pep rallies and less time at Lover’s Lookout!” responds Jen, who if her haircut had a name it would be Eagle Forum.
Penny changes the subject and asks why Jen is home. (We literally just covered the fact that it’s past curfew so I don’t know why this would seem strange BUT WE AREN’T HERE TO PICK THE PLOT APART WE ARE JUST HERE TO MOCK IT.)
Jen says she was on a date as well but it ended early. Penny responds, exasperated, that this is the third man she has set Jen up with and “they always dump you off well before curfew like you’re coming down with the measles!”
“I like boys just as much as you do!” Jen suspiciously and nonsequiterly objects. “I just didn’t happen to like any of these!”
Penny mocks Jen for studying books instead of boys. Jen defends herself, saying “That’s why I came here: to learn!” #FeministIcon
The two start talking about kissing. “I have no problem with kissing a boy I like goodnight, Penny. But these boys, they don’t want to kiss you goodnight. They want to kiss you ALLLLL night! They want to drive to the loneliest spot they can find and see how far they can go!”
So far, although Penny seems like a good time, I’m probably more on Jen’s side here. The thought of kissing someone “all night” makes me want to become a nun. There is not enough botox in the world to compensate for that kind of exhaustion.
Nonetheless, Penny, who is taking a very long time to remove her fake eyelashes, is not pleased with this observation.
Penny tells Jen she needs to loosen up. “You’ve got to get over some of those high school notions about petting!” she says.
I just want to take a moment to note that although literally no one on this planet actually knows what the word means, there is no grosser use of the English language than saying “petting” to refer to any level or type of intimacy between humans.
Fellow writer at The Beehive, Meg Walter, Goddess, once taught me the phrase “back rubs in the front room lead to front rubs in the back room” and I told her that was the most disturbing thing I had ever heard. I think I had forgotten about the bishop who once said to me “no petting before wedding or there’ll be lots of regretting” as he fished his freckled hand down to the bottom of a glass jar of paper-wrapped caramels.
AND I WAS 12.
“This is the second half of the 20th century, you know!” Penny argues.
“Well as far as I’m concerned, the year has nothing to do with whether something is right or wrong!” Jen retorts.
Penny calls Jen a prude. Jen starts calling Penny something probably too risqué for a 1965 BYU film, but Penny interrupts. “Don’t worry about my reputation! Norm is the only one who knows what goes on between us and he’s not going to tell!”
We then cut to the men’s quarters where we find Norm.
He’s the one who looks like he just finished beating an effigy of his father at conversion therapy camp.
Norm’s friend is weirdly interested in finding out how far Norm went in the car with Penny that night.
Someone asks Norm a question I can’t quite make out and I’ve played it back like 600 times and I’m dying here. I think the question may have been about his sexual performance because a shifty and proud Norm responds “I have no trouble with it. No trouble at all!”
Then Norm finishes, “I have no problem making out with Penny. That little girl is breaded!” which is simultaneously the most confusing and disgusting string of words I have ever heard in my life I HATE IT HERE.
I just did an incredible amount of internet sleuthing (one google search and scanned the results for less than 10 seconds) and I can’t find any information about this slang, which makes me think I may be mishearing Norm? Please tell me I’m mishearing Norm.
Also, making out? Is that honestly what we’re talking about here? That whole “I know the difference between right and wrong” business back with Jen and Penny was just about Jen’s disapproval that two people in their 20s kissed for a while?
Norm starts telling the dorm dudes all of the details of their date. Meanwhile, a man is in the background suspiciously typing away on a typewriter.
Ok, this is not going where I thought it was going. Homeboy is just writing some bad and completely irrelevant poetry.
What is this? A caption on an Instagram post featuring a shirtless gay dude in front of a hazy sunset?!
The typist’s name is apparently Keith, which we learn in the next scene when he stops Jen in the library to quote that poem at her.
Keith is smooooooth as butter. He hands Jen a book they were both looking for and says “How about you read it this afternoon and I’ll stop by this evening and pick you up so you can explain it to me.”
My working theory is that Keith might be illiterate and this is how he’s getting through college.
Jen agrees to go on the date with Keith. Then she tells him her name, which he apparently hasn’t been interested in finding out up to this point. Also I just discovered her name is actually Jan, not Jen, but I’m in too deep and I’m too lazy so I’m not going back to change it in this recap.
Jen and Keith go on what has to be the dumbest date I have ever heard of in my entire life. Keith takes her to the airport so they can stand on a sidewalk and watch the planes take off. To be fair, this was before streaming, but things couldn’t have been this bad.
“I’ve never been on a plane,” Jen says. “But I used to climb trees!” ???????????
No wonder all those dudes dropped her off halfway through her last three dates.
The two start talking about what kind of trees Jen climbed. This conversation goes on for a while. And it is much less interesting than you’re imagining.
Keith finds out Jen can fish. “How about that!” he shouts in amazement. “And I just thought you were another helpless female!”
Ok. Let’s not take the bait, guys.
Jen laments that Keith has discovered she’s capable of doing absolutely anything, openly wishing she had done a better job presenting herself as a bimbo with no personality. “Penny says men want their women helpless and fluttery.”
Keith gasps at the mention of Penny’s name. “Do you know her?” Jen asks. Keith looks down at his feet. “I’ve heard of her,” he responds, as though this woman who he understands recently MADE OUT WITH A MAN is an actual terrorist.
“Please don’t tell her you found out about me! About the tree climbing and fishing! She thinks I’m the biggest square on campus as it is!” Jen stammers.
“Well I’m glad she does.” Keith responds, smiling and staring at Jen like an absolute serial killer.
Jen then gives a very long unsolicited speech about her parents’ marriage and how it’s one of mutual respect. Suddenly Keith, who has a very different idea of a good time than anyone else who has ever lived, shouts, “Come on! This is the fun part! Now we join the crowd and pretend we just came in from Mexico City!”
Keith and Jen then go walk through the doors smiling about the vacation they didn’t have.
Ok, I’ve decided this would actually be kind of cute in a much better film with people who didn’t have the personalities of two slices of Wonder Bread soaked in mayonnaise sitting in the backseat of a Toyota Prius in an Applebee’s parking lot.
Jen goes home and tells Penny how much fun the first date was.
“The second date can be . . . even more fun.” Penny responds, saying more with her pause than with her words.
There’s an extremely long montage of Keith and Jen courting one another and there could not be a less interesting couple to watch. The scenes depict Keith mansplaining something to Jen in class and then Keith mansplaining something to her at church. At one point they go on a long silent walk through a park.
What happened to Norm and Penny? What was wrong with Norm and Penny? Those two were a good time. Penny was so breaded.
Finally we cut to what my experience having attended BYU tells me is likely the second or third date, in which Keith says “You know, I think I’m in love with you.”
“Jen, would you take my fraternity pin?”
Jen is elated.
Up next we’re in Keith’s dorm room where his roommate is badly playing the guitar which confirms this is definitely BYU.
Guitar guy tells Keith he “pinned” a girl last year but then he took it back because “she wouldn’t.” He doesn’t say what “she wouldn’t” specifically, but then he follows this up with “Once a girl gets pinned, she just starts holding out for marriage. I hope you’re making out already!”
Yes, we are still just talking about makeout sessions. This entire video is about kissing. These dudes want to mack (sorry for that word) in the worst possible way and BYU felt it needed to say something about this.
But also? Guys? It’s not that great. I once made out with someone who accidentally burped into my mouth. At least, I think it was an accident. It might have been a kink. Neither option makes this better.
Keith said he doesn’t make out with Jen because he respects her and himself, and y’all, I 1,000,000% used that exact excuse for the entirety of my closeted life and you would not believe how much it was accepted by my fellow brothers and sisters at the Lord’s University.
Guitar and Keith then have a long uncomfortable conversation about their sex drives and I just realized Keith is supposed to be like 20 but he’s definitely 45.
Up next, Jen finds out Penny recently lied when she said she went to stay with her aunt for the weekend. She was actually off gallivanting with Norm. Jen is HORRIFIED and she slut shames Penny over this.
Penny says, “I know. I used to be like you. I don’t know how a good clean girl like me could have gotten so carried away.”
Jen tells Penny that if you are intimate (again, I think we are still just talking about kissing) “the man can only love you as a sex object after that.” I’m not sure what Jen thinks about marital relations but I’m starting to get concerned for her.
After their separate sex ed conversations, we find Jen and Keith in the car and y’all, THERE IS SOME TENSION. Don’t get too excited though. Nothing interesting happens in this entire thirty-minute film LORD I SPENT 30 MINUTES WATCHING THIS.
The two have a tense and vague conversation. They say things like, “it was bound to happen” and “I understand why you turned me down” and “Jen, I’m only human.”
They then talk for a very long time about whether they should just “go for it” and their tone is that of two people contemplating investing their life savings in a magic potion MLM or assassinating the president.
Keith, who can’t seem to read the room, suggests they go somewhere together off campus and says Jen can tell everyone she’s spending the weekend with her aunt. LIKE THAT MONSTER PENNY.
That’s enough for Jen. She is pissed.
They break up. It’s unclear what’s going to happen with the fraternity pin.
Up next Jen is crying in the prayer position at her bedside and Penny is like “I don’t know what to tell you. Every time I give you advice you act like I’m literally Satan.”
Penny tells Jen, once again, that if she wants to keep her man she has to satisfy his needs.
This reminds me of an animated film we watched in our 10th grade abstinence only public education health class taught by the soccer coach. The film was called “If You Love Me . . . Show Me!” and in it a man and woman can be heard from inside a car talking. The man wants to go down to pleasure town. The woman doesn’t. The man says “If you love me, show me!” Then the car starts rocking. The next day the man tells everyone what happened and the woman is fired from her job for lacking a moral compass.
And none of us ever had sex after that.
Side note: I made the mistake of telling my husband about that film a few years ago so now he periodically says “if you love me, show me” to try to get me to do mundane household chores and I have to admit, this is not an ineffective manipulation strategy.
Anyway, there’s a long montage where Jen is contemplating whether she should finally just make out with Keith. She’s very pouty about it.
One day Keith is walking in a park when suddenly an item of clothing drops from above. Keith looks up to find Jen sitting on a tree branch and I’m not going to lie, I thought she was not wearing pants for a second and wondered if this film was going to take a very unexpected turn.
Keith climbs the tree and the two start talking.
They both say they miss one another and I don’t know how it’s possible for anyone to miss either of these vacuous white balloons but there’s a lid for every pot or something and I guess that’s good.
Then Jen goes to the dorm room and finds out Penny is dropping out of school because Norm is getting married to someone else.
But the part Penny is the most upset about? Not that Norm has been two-timing her. Not that he’s been lying. The worst part: “He’s never even touched her!!!”
Recap: Penny used to be a “clean” girl. Then she started making out with Norm every weekend. Suddenly Norm gets engaged and the wedding is in one month. Penny is upset, but the thing that makes her the most upset is that Norm hasn’t made out with his bride-to-be.
Look. Say what you will about Penny’s promiscuity, girlfriend looks out for women and their needs.
Penny delivers a cautionary tale about how her decision to make out with Norm has caused her to fail all her classes, lose all self-respect and her scholarship, and now she’ll never be able to fall in love again. Then she storms out, suitcase in hand.
I was about to make fun of her for this but then I realized that what she described is exactly how I felt after the makeout burp referenced previously, so I get it.
I’ll note, too, that based on the fact that Norm is apparently heading off into marriage bliss, with zero consequences to his education or future prosperity, this is yet another film about how women alone are responsible for the apparently unbridled hormones of their desired companions.
Up next, Jen and Keith go to a very boring party in their Sunday best. Keith tells Jen when she refused to make out with him, he realized he needed to change. Keith says now that he knows Jen won’t make out with him, he understands their relationship is not going to be physical and he can just move on from that (and view her more like his grandma?). Neither appears to recognize this as a ticking time-bomb for their future.
Jen then stands up and starts reciting poetry in a whisper voice CAN YOU IMAGINE DATING THIS PERSON NO WONDER KEITH WANTED TO KISS HER IT WOULD AT LEAST SHUT HER UP.
The poem is so long I started skipping ahead. She could have been quoting Wonderwall for all I know.
The film ends with Keith crying and begging Jen for her forgiveness.
FOR SUGGESTING SHE MAKE OUT WITH HIM.
I need to go pet something.
(Design: Joshua Fowlke) (Editor: Rachel Swan)