Elizabeth Smart had her UVU audience on the edge of their seats with personal details of of being kidnapped at age 14, how she dealt with it, what kept her going and how she escaped.
This was all expected based on the widespread awareness of her experience, especially after her book, “My Story,” was published. What wasn’t expected was her humor that lightened intense subject matter.
Here are eight times Smart surprised UVU attendees and filled the ballroom with laughter.
1. Harp with a side of sugar
“I came from an incredibly large family. On my mom’s side, she is number 8 of 9 kids. I have over 50 cousins and, of their offspring, there’s more than hundreds. I remember many of their weddings because I would get volunteered to play the harp, even if I wanted to play or not.
“… One wedding reception I remember, I had been playing for a few hours and my attention span was gone. I thought I would excuse myself to the restroom and take the scenic way back to the harp and stop by the dessert table — that’s why you go to weddings, right?”
2. It’s all about popular
“I come home from school upset. The most popular girl in my grade came up to my table, the girl all the guys wanted to take out … (and) all the other girls wanted to dress like and look like. I remember she came up and said, ‘This weekend I’m having a party at my house and all of you are invited, except you.’
“I came home and told my mom and she said, ‘Is it going to be that terrible spending one more weekend at home with me? Are you sure these girls are really your friends? Besides, if you get down right to it … popular is really just another word for rude.’
“Now, I did not like any of those ‘comforting’ thoughts that my mom tried to impart to me. I thought they were all terrible. What did that say about me? Bad social life, no friends and I’m aspiring to be rude?”
3. Smart problems
“Sometimes in school I was so embarrassed to have the last name Smart when I got my papers back. Sometimes I wished it could have been something else … like “Help,” or “Needy” or “Tutor, Please!”
4. Getting the right answer
“I thought of how my captors got away with everything they did. I watched them steal, lie, cheat, basically every wrong thing you can do, and get away with it. They got away with it by manipulating people through religion.
“I thought, how, how can I do this? If it can work for them, all the time, it has to work for me at least once. I remember praying and promising Heavenly Father, I would never, ever try to manipulate a person through religion again if it would just work this one time for me. I guess he was OK with it because obviously I’m here.”
5. Under 21
“Although I had tried to escape a couple of times, that never turned out well for me. I had gone along with what they told me to do. … And now, it’s easy to say, ‘You were right there! Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you do something?’ They say your brain isn’t fully developed until you are 21; obviously I wasn’t 21 yet.”
6. Prison? Yes, please!
“They took me to a teeny tiny room in the basement with no windows; they took my handcuffs off, left me alone and didn’t tell me what they were going to do with me next. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I am going to prison. OK, prison, prison, prison. … Showers, food, a bed, a garbage can and jumpsuits. I bet they’re washed more than once every nine months. That doesn’t sound that bad actually! That sounds like a big step from where I’ve been the past nine months. If that’s what happens, that’s OK.’”
7. Husband knows best
“I have plenty of problems in my life and plenty of days where I’m not happy and I’m cranky and I lash out without that good of a reason, like all females. …
“Usually, my husband, who I did legally marry and I said yes to, he usually likes to take those moments. … Oh, and he’s from Scotland, he has an accent and, yes, that’s why I married him. And yes, we got married in a kilt and it was romantic and wonderful. Anyway!
“And he says, ‘Oh alright, Elizabeth, you know, you should really try to follow your own advice.’ Ah, that really doesn’t make me any happier or make the situation any better.”
8. Blonde joke
“If I hadn’t been kidnapped, realistically who would have listened to me? I would have just been another blonde girl from Utah. I’m willing to bet all of you are familiar with the reputation blondes have. I have it twice as bad as everyone else. Who has ever heard of a smart blonde before?”