You Can Always Tell

by Kimberly Sabin

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Was I really that different from the other girls? These guys seemed to think so.

It was the fifth period of my first day in high school. That meant biology, and as I sat down on my hard plastic chair, I recognized one of the boys at my lab table as Casey, the school’s best water polo player. I couldn’t believe I had a class with Casey!

The two boys on my left looked familiar too—I had seen them hanging around with the mob of baseball players during lunch. The last member of our little biology “team” was Mike, scholar-athlete of the year and an important contributor to both the volleyball and tennis teams. I felt like I was sitting among the who’s who list of our high school athletes.

I soon discovered that popularity and athletic prowess weren’t very good indicators of character. Surprise! The boys were nice to people, but the crude way they talked made me squirm in my seat.

At first I was rather timid, afraid to speak up to these “big men on campus,” but as the school year progressed I voiced my discomfort more and more often. They just laughed good-naturedly at my protests.

One day, out of the blue, Miles—one of the baseball players—turned his freckled face toward me and asked, “Kim, are you Mormon?” I was completely taken aback. Where had that question come from?

“Yes, why?” I asked. Miles just shrugged his shoulders and said matter-of-factly, “I don’t know. It’s just that you can always tell when a girl is Mormon.”

Now I was even more perplexed. I knew that I had the gospel in my life and that it set me apart from the rest of the world. But I didn’t think I acted noticeably different from any of the other girls in my class.

“How can you tell?” I asked, really wanting to know.

The other guys at the table were leaning forward, listening intently and murmuring in agreement. “I don’t know,” Miles said. “You can just tell when a girl is Mormon. They’re different.” All of the baseball caps bobbed up and down in unanimous assent.

Miles never said whether being able to tell a girl was LDS was a good thing or a bad thing—it was just a fact. I took it as a compliment that my behavior set me apart as a member of Christ’s church. From then on, I have tried to live my life so that people will realize there is something different about me because I’m a Mormon.

Photography by Bob Hill; posed by models