I was taking out the garbage the other night when Maude brought me the cordless phone.
"It's the Mormons," she said. "They said something about game night." These last two words were pronounced with something I can only call bemused horror.
I turned on the phone and discovered that, sure enough, one of my previous visitors from the church was on the line. The guy was very nice and said he was inviting Maude and me over for desserts and games at his house along with the other man and his wife. I immediately felt bad. First, because I knew that this proposed event would never happen. And secondly, it's hard not to feel a little guilty that four people are willing to give up their Friday night, and possibly hire a baby-sitter, too.
I would be open to going to something like this, but I know Maude would not be. I have a lot in common with these people, but she does not. I can understand not wanting to be submerged in an alien social setting, with people who probably have half an eye on converting you into their strange religious sect. She doesn't know the extent of my deconversion, either, so she probably fears that I'm a couple of lemonade socials away from falling back on the wagon.
At any rate, I plead prior commitments to the nice guy on the phone. It was difficult because he tried to use the commitment pattern on me to schedule a new date. (I catch my parents doing this all the time, invariably about secular things, but it is still annoying.) Eventually we settled on the polite fiction that I would call him when I found a time that would work for us.
After I hung up the phone, Maude looked at me. "Game night?" she asked, one eyebrow raised.
"They're Mormons," I said, trying to explain. "They can't drink, so games are the only way they can socialize."
Reflecting on this episode later, I realized that the whole reactivation process can't help but sow seeds of mistrust. During their previous visit, I explicitly told my visitors (are they home teachers or reactivators? Who knows?) that I had zero interest in anything religious. Now, their invitation to Maude and me may be completely sincere and secular in nature. But how can it be? We were probably assigned to them in an effort to get some more priesthood holders active in the ward. They probably have to report on their progress with us during Elders Quorum. At first it's just Jello and Pictionary, and the next thing you know they'll be inviting the missionaries over.
Is it possible just to have a regular friendship between former Mormon and a current one? I think so, but probably not in these circumstances. The specter of reactivation will always loom over us.