Pamela’s Prayer: Part 2

It’s Pamela’s Sweet Sixteen party, yo, and she is having a ROCKING party, consisting of her dad and her grandparents.

Not that I’m a one to talk.  Still, though, I had friends over for a sleepover for my sixteenth birthday, nerd though I was (and am).

Still still, though, did Sarah have no family?  Why are these the only three people in Pamela’s whole life?

*They sing “Happy Birthday”*

Wayne:  Say a prayer and blow out the candles.

*Pamela closes her eyes and blows out the candles*

Grandma:  Whadja pray for, honey?

Grandpa:  Now she’s not supposed to tell you that!  That’s a secret between her and the Lord!

Wayne:  Right, Ma, sorry.  *beat*  Whadja pray for, Pamela?

Pamela:  Daa-aad!  I’m not supposed to tell you, but I will: I didn’t ask for anything.  I just told God how much I love my grandparents and my father.

Grandpa:  Well, isn’t that nice.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE???

Seriously, Grandpa is the only normal human among them.  And isn’t it incredibly sad that Pamela is allowed no privacy whatsoever?  That her every thought, her every prayer, needs to be shared with her whole family.

Speaking of, did I miss something (again) by growing up in a secular home?  Are birthday wishes sinful or something?  They have to be birthday prayers or Baby Jesus cries?

And look at how well Wayne has Pamela controlled.  Just look at that.  One word from him, and she spills her innermost thoughts.  Nothing is her own, even the thoughts in her head.

So sad.

That night, we see how the whole “I promised to pray with Pamela every night” thing plays out: Wayne sits on Pamela’s bed, as she sits under the covers, and Wayne says the whole prayer.  Pamela says not a word until the end, when she adds her own “Amen,” followed by, “Thanks, Dad.”

Wayne isn’t praying with her, he’s praying for her.  As in, he is praying in her place.

You see why I hate this guy?

Wayne

Smug prick.

***

The next day, the playa of Pamela’s Christian school, one Jerry Clark, is scoping out all the young hotties with his friend…um…Jerry’s Friend.  Jerry’s Friend informs Jerry that our Pamela has never been kissed, and Jerry takes this as a challenge, asking Pamela to attend the school basketball game with him.  Pamela, of course, has to ask her dad, though she knows damn well what he’ll say.

Wayne:  You know how I feel about dating.

Yeah.  No dating.  At all.  Under any circumstances.

Despite Pamela’s plea that he is “a good Christian guy,” Wayne doesn’t budge, and Pamela has to turn Jerry down, much to the consternation of her best only friend, Jessica.  Pamela brings home a new argument of Jessica’s every night for her father, but Wayne has an answer for them:

Pamela:  Jessica’s father lets her go out with guys as long as they’re Christians.

Wayne:  I wonder what Jessica’s husband would say if he knew that?

Pamela:  What do you mean?

I know, right???

But pay attention, you guys—Wayne’s whole philosophy of relations between the sexes is right here:

Wayne:  Pamela, whenever we come to a point in our lives where we’re not sure what to do, we should always look ahead and view things from that perspective.  For example, in your case about dating, let’s look ahead to your wedding day.  You’ll be getting married to the man you love with all your heart.  This is the man you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.  Now, let’s go ahead a little further, to your wedding night.  When you lie down on your wedding bed, what kind of a man do you want your husband to be?  Do you want a man who’s saved all his love just for you, one who never even kissed another woman, so he could share that just with you, or do you want a man who’s been with other women before?  One who kissed other women, and didn’t wait for you?  Which one would you prefer?

Pamela:  I’d prefer the one who waited.

Wayne:  And so would your husband.

Your husband would also prefer the man who waited.  Wait, no!

Honestly, there is a ton wrong with Wayne, but I think the saddest thing about his little philosophy is how he thinks love is a bowl of sugar that can be used up.  That love can be saved like money, then all poured into one big investment: Marriage.

Now, on to my big problem with this whole premise.  I don’t think experience is everything.  I think if two people have good chemistry, they can have a great time together, even if neither one of them has had much “practice,” whether we’re talking about kissing or anything beyond that.

But…I kinda think you have to kiss someone to know whether you are sexually compatible.  You can get along with someone just fine, have things in common and things to talk about, but you just don’t know if there is any there there until you lock lips.  And basic chemistry is not something that can be learned—you either have it with the other person, or you don’t.  And getting to your wedding day, to the actual ceremony, and then finding out that you don’t like his touch or his taste…well, I don’t care at that point if he’s saved all his love in a box for me or not.

And, hell, my girl Jessica doesn’t even think that such a guy exists, and she goes to the same Christian school as Pamela.

Jessica:  I’ve kissed guys before and I don’t feel bad.  Kissing’s fun!  You’re missing out.

Jessica rocks.

But despite her father’s talk, Pamela is still sad.  She had to turn down Jerry, and now she has to sit in class all day with him, with his smoldering good looks and sparkling personality…

Jerry

Or not.  I mean, Jerry’s not that bad, though he’s certainly no prize.  The movie makes him out to be a manipulative asshole (“I get it…I’m just not good enough for you“), but his whiny-ass delivery erases any hint of threat.

Cosby

Pamela mourns her loss of date, while rocking the Cosby sweater (plus the hairdo that I wore almost constantly from 6th through 9th grades).

In a few small moments that, shockingly for this film, actually stir some emotion, Pamela sadly gazes at two different happy couples at school, then is given the patented Mean Boy treatment by a random group of guys (that does not include Jerry, btw):

One guy: *faux friendly tone*  Hi, Pam!

Pamela:  *smiles back*

One guy:  *mutters something to his friends*

All the guys:  *burst out laughing*

Poor Pamela.

Frustrated, Pamela snaps at her father when she gets home, and it evolves into what I would characterize as a mild argument, but which the movie clearly portrays as the most at odds Pamela and Wayne have ever been.  (Some of it is in the trailer—this is the part where Pamela cries, “You’re making my life miserable, Dad…don’t you see…you’re making it miserable!“)

The trailer leaves out her excellent point, though:

Pamela:  You can’t show me one verse in the Bible where it says it’s wrong to date.

You go girl—fight fire with fire.

Not that it helps.  In her best teenage move yet, Pamela retreats to her room, and doesn’t let Wayne in to say prayers with her!

Pamela:  I’ve already said my prayers, good night.

Now, it is a pretty good burn, indeed, but Pamela, sadly, has nothing on Wayne, who counterattacks with a Level Six Guilt Trip, as follows:

Wayne:  *praying out loud from the other side of Pamela’s closed bedroom door*  Dear Lord, we love you.  Thank you for this day.  Please watch over Pamela.  Help me to be the father you want me to be.  In Jesus’ name, amen.  *beat*  Good night, Pamela.

Believe me when I tell you that Wayne was not capable of keeping the smug satisfaction out of his voice for the “Good night, Pamela” part.  Prick.

But Pamela ain’t through yet, no sir!  As the Ominous Music plays, Pamela approaches Jerry at school the next day…

Then she calls her father at work and LIES to him (filthy sinner that she is), saying she is going to the game, but with Jessica.  Wayne obviously has his doubts, but given that Pamela has already questioned the level of trust he has in her, he can’t very well ask her outright if she’s lying to him.

Turns out Pamela isn’t half-bad at this whole Being a Teenager business.

Game

You know, this whole problem could be solved by just having Wayne drop Pamela off at the game, then pick her up when it’s over, to take her home.  I mean, look at this.  I don’t know what kind of magician-contortionist-wizard Wayne thinks Jerry is, but the odds of anything physical happening in this particular setting are somewhere south of 1%.

But no, Jerry walks Pamela home after the game.  The Ominous Music continues, even though Jerry and Pamela aren’t so much as holding hands.  They chit-chat outside in the snow for a few minutes, then Jerry leeeeeans in for his good-night kiss…

And Pamela turns away and rushes home!

Oh, and did I mention that Wayne has been sitting in his easy chair, praying for Pamela, for the last fifteen minutes?

So it wasn’t really Pamela who stopped the kiss from happening—it was God, at Wayne’s behest, watching out for the poor girl.

That was a close one, too!  If Wayne hadn’t been praying, who knows what might have happened!  There could have even been a hug involved!

Jerry, meanwhile, reacts to this turn of events quite mildly (at least for now): first with a “Bwa?” look when he is denied his kiss, then with a “Huh.  Weird chick,” chuckle as he heads on home.

Pamela enters the house, with a look on her face like she barely escaped with her life.  But all she says to Wayne is, “Sorry I’m late.”  And after all that praying, we don’t even get to see Wayne’s reaction.

WILL there be further repercussions to Pamela’s almost-kiss?

WILL Wayne continue to be a guilt-tripping prick?  (Yes.)

Stay tuned!  Same purity time, same purity channel!

 

 

 

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Posted on September 12, 2014, in Movies, Pamela's Prayer. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. EW. This movie is so thoroughly disgusting. Is Pamela even allowed a personality that doesn’t revolve around whether or not she’s kissed a guy?

  2. Well, no wonder there’s practically nobody at her sixteenth birthday party! Her only friend is Jessica, who is clearly a boy-kissing, hand-holding slutty slutty slut-slut whose very presence would cause the holy walls of their godly home to crumble should she cross their threshold. (I’m not exactly one to talk, though — I didn’t have a sixteenth birthday party and not a single one of my friends remembered it even was my birthday. Not exaggerating in the slightest.)

    Also, put me on the list of people who have never heard of saying prayers instead of making a wish when blowing out the candles. That’s . . . that’s just a new kind of special.

  3. inquisitiveraven

    Just reimagining the dialogue here:

    Wayne: Say a prayer and blow out the candles.

    *Pamela closes her eyes and blows out the candles*

    Lord get me out of here.

    Grandma: Whadja pray for, honey?

    Grandpa: Now she’s not supposed to tell you that! That’s a secret between her and the Lord!

    Wayne: Right, Ma, sorry. *beat* Whadja pray for, Pamela?

    Oh geeze, what’ll I tell him? Can’t tell him to fuck off..

    Pamela: Daa-aad! I’m not supposed to tell you, but I will: I didn’t ask for anything. I just told God how much I love my grandparents and my father.

    Grandpa: Well, isn’t that nice.

    The stuff in italics, of course, is her inner monologue.

    • inquisitiveraven

      Okay, the stuff that wasn’t in the original is her inner monologue. Would’ve been nice if the blockquote didn’t italicize everything. I’ll have to remember that next time.

  4. Do you want a man who’s saved all his love just for you, one who never even kissed another woman, so he could share that just with you, or do you want a man who’s been with other women before? One who kissed other women, and didn’t wait for you? Which one would you prefer?

    Let’s flip this attitude around: How would you like to go out with a man whose attitude towards your blossoming romance is “I’m not going to kiss you, because I may very well end up with a different woman at the altar someday, and I don’t want her to dislike how I defiled my lips with your vile kisses.” Sounds like a good way never to end up at the altar to me.

    There’s a line from Pamela in the trailer about that, something like “How do I know if I want to marry a guy if I’m not allowed to date him?” I both anticipate and dread the answer that this movie will provide.

    Incidentally, 15 years or so ago, the Dutch Evangelical broadcasting station got into some shit (though not nearly enough of it) when they decided to make a tv show to, ahem, illustrate the above moral. They went to a class of really young kids (doubt they were even in their teens), gave them all a few bucks and told them to buy presents for each others. Then they gathered all the presents, smashed them all to bits, and handed them out. Then they picked the kids who, in between sobbing and crying (and yes, the whole class was literraly crying at this point, and they broadcasted it), expressed saddness that the gift they bought for a classmate was destroyed. And then the voiceover (who could probably rub elbows with Wayne in the smug-prick department) explained the moral: The kids were more sad that the gift they’d bought for others were ruined than that their own gifts were ruined. And you’ll be equally sad if the virginity you want to gift to your spouse is “broken”. So no sex before marriage!

    I only saw it because my favourite show at the time voted that fragment as the worst thing on TV that year. The host managed to get into a Evangelical station’s board meeting of some kind to give them the trophy, then took out a hammer and smashed the trophy. But they didn’t smash any of the executive’s fingers at the same time, so I still feel those assholes got off light.

    • Fingers? You’re too kind. (Or maybe I’m too bloodthirsty. Or both.)

      Poor kids. I hope at least some of them grew up to have a lot of non-marital sex with no bad consequences whatsoever, and if any of them decided not to have non-marital sex, it’s not because they were traumathised by those jerks.

    • Assholes like that never realize that sex is an activity, not an object. It’s something you do with someone else, not something you give to someone else. And as such, it’s something you can both share with different people over your lifetime, and something that you can improve with practice.

      I don’t know if smashing of anything is necessary. They already obviously have terrible sex lives, and that’s worse than a short-term injury which can be healed.

      • inquisitiveraven

        So, it’s more reification of abstractions like we were talking about in Fireproof regarding marriage?

        Another point they seem to be missing is consent. Bloody authoritarians. If a woman decides to have sex before marriage, it’s her decision, how she feels about it after the fact is going to depend on a lot of different factors. Well, the same thing is true about a man, but the cultural attitudes are different. Those kids were given an opportunity to get someone a gift and then those gifts were destroyed without the kids’ consent. Rather a different circumstance, don’t you think?

        • Consent doesn’t seem to be a concept that exists in their world.

          • I think you may have got something very important here. Because there’s no concept of consent, when a woman gets married she becomes entirely the property of her husband… so it’s especially important to be absolutely sure that he’s the right man for her.

            One could probably build something about making a decision when not clouded by hormones, and suggest that if the potential partner is despised by the parents then “back off for a while” may in the end be a better response than “run away together it’s so romantic”, but I don’t think the people who espouse this sort of approach have really thought it through that far.

    • There’s a line from Pamela in the trailer about that, something like “How do I know if I want to marry a guy if I’m not allowed to date him?” I both anticipate and dread the answer that this movie will provide.

      Pamela: How am I supposed to know who the right guy is if I never go out with anybody?

      Wayne: Pamela, who have you been talking to?

      Pamela: [avoids his question: the answer is Jessica] It doesn’t make sense, Dad, I don’t see why I can’t go out–nothing’s gonna happen.

      Wayne: I’ve told you why I don’t want you to date.

      Pamela: But Dad, I want to get married someday–I don’t want to be single my whole life.

      Wayne: *chuckles* You just turned sixteen. You’ll probably be married before any of your girlfriends.

      I get that Pamela is an emo teen and all, but it’s still pretty rude of Wayne to laugh at her concerns, seeing as how this actually is something that sets her apart from everybody else. Hell, Wayne’s not even saying, “no dating until you’re eighteen” or something like that. It’s no dating, period.

      And yes, Wayne has just completely ignored Pamela and Jessica’s point about finding out who the right guy is.

      • Ah, so they didn’t leave the answer out of the trailer because they didn’t want spoiler, but because they don’t actually give an answer. Great. Fantastic. That really convinces me that Wayne is right all along.

        Also, re: being maried before her friends: Yeah, true, RTCs do marry earlier. Because they aren’t allowed to date, so they just have to tie the knot with their first fling. Good thing no one ever regrets their first crush. Those foolish people who marry the third or fifth person they dated are all kicking themselves that they didn’t get hitched to their first romance.

        All this is generously assuming that the RTC father doesn’t point at an RTC guy he likes and says “With him. The altar. Three days. Start fitting a dress.”

        I think it was Personal Failure’s blog that quoted from some RTC creep’s who put a list of 30 or 40 traits any man had to have before he’d let them to marry his daughter on his blog. Hilariously, one of them was that the prospective husband shouldn’t be a sissy who’s afraid to stand up to him. So he shouldn’t be a meek yes-man, but he will have to demonstratebly meet 39 other demands his father-in-law makes of him. Or could I just meet that demand by telling that control freak to stuff all his other demands?

        I sincerely hope his daughter eloped. Mostly for her sake (I seem to remember there were a few demands that equated to requiring the husband to keep his new wife under his thumb too), but also for the delicious tears of frustration it would’ve resulted in.

      • I find it interesting that the first reaction of this paragon of manhood, when he realises that his daughter has had a thought that he doesn’t approve of, is “who have you been talking to”. Because she couldn’t possibly have come up with the idea for herself. Someone else must have put it there.

  5. I’ve never heard of the idea of birthday prayers rather than birthday wishes, but it does sound like exactly the sort of thing a fundy would come up with. Since they would then immediately claim it had been passed down through their community for generations, I suspect there’s no way of finding out when it was actually invented.

    “Whadja pray for, Pamela?”

    “Same thing we pray for at Church, dad: smiting the heathen!”

    As for “How do I know if I want to marry a guy if I’m not allowed to date him?”, I suspect the idea is “your parents and his will work out the business details between them”.

    Lliira, there are people in the fundy community who still believe in telegony (i.e. that a woman’s offspring can inherit traits of people she’s had sex with other than the father). It’s becoming popular again in the Russian Orthodox church.

  6. Are birthday wishes sinful or something? They have to be birthday prayers or Baby Jesus cries?

    Even back when I was a child I realized that making a birthday wish is just a game. Wishes made while blowing out candles have no greater chance of coming true than wishes made at any other time. You just do it for the fun of it.

    But I suppose if one is presuming the existence of God, one is also presuming to be living in a supernatural universe, and therefore ritualized wishing might have some actual potency. Maybe Wayne thinks that wishes are granted by genies, which makes wishing a form of demonic magic?

    And anyhow, these people pray every day. Kind of makes the whole birthday prayer feel pointless, since you would have been praying that day regardless. Or do birthday prayers get priority access in God’s prayer processing queue or something?

    This whole thing makes me feel like I’m watching some very bizarre “Pinky and the Brain”-variant:

    “Gee, Wayne, what did you pray for your birthday prayer?”
    “The same thing I pray every night, Pamela: For God to take over the world!”
    (…Two fundamental minds,
    Their genes are God’s designs,
    They’re Pamela… They’re Pamela and the Wayne, Wayne, Wayne, Wayne…)

    Wayne: I wonder what Jessica’s husband would say if he knew that?

    I think he would be pretty okay with it. I mean, assuming Jessica will one day get married, she’s likely to choose a partner who has roughly the same world view as she does. Jessica clearly has no problem with pre-marital kissing, so why would she marry a man who does?

    And in any case, we don’t know for certain if Jessica ever will get married. Such a person as “Jessica’s husband” might never exist. Making important life decisions based on what some hypothetical (possibly non-existent) person might think seems needlessly complicated to me.

    The whole scenario is just so paradoxical: Wayne is condemning other people because of their loose morals, and yet assumes that these immoral people will judge Jessica by the same standards Wayne would. Jessica’s husband, who was happily kissing her before marrying her, is supposed to become upset on their wedding night that she had been kissing men (himself included) before marrying him. What?!

    Wayne: *praying out loud from the other side of Pamela’s closed bedroom door*

    Yeah… It’s pretty obvious even to a non-omniscient being like me that the prayer was intended for Pamela’s ears and not really directed at God. I mean, if God existed and was listening to that prayer, I can’t imagine he was particularly impressed with it. I’m no theologian, but it seems to me that using a sacred act like prayer to passive-aggressively snipe at your daughter comes dangerously close to taking the Lord’s name in vain.

    Huh, it almost seems like Wayne doesn’t really expect God to be listening to his prayers. Or, as is more likely, Wayne just assumes that God always agrees with him about everything. Yeah, Wayne sure is fond of looking for specks in the eyes of others, and very confident that there are no planks in his own. If only Jesus had given some advice on that matter…

    • Now I’m picturing that prayer scene as from inside Pamela’s bedroom, with Wayne’s voice coming through the door…

      “Help me to be the father you want me to”
      zot
      “…to be, to be the father you”
      ZOT
      “want me to be”
      Fzzzzt [pop]

      Prayer: answered.

    • Glad to see it wasn’t just me who kept getting Pinky & the Brain in his brain.

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