Tuesday, July 25, 2006

first date

Here's the blog I promised yesterday about the boy in my dream.

I already mentioned that I was raised an extreme religious conservative. I attended 13 grades of Christian day school and then went to the bastion of conservatism, Bob Jones University.

For those not familiar with it, when I went there (I graduated 10 years ago) the boys and girls dorms were on opposite sides of a closed, fenced campus. No one of the opposite gender was ever allowed in the other's dorm with the exception of boys helping girls moved in accompanied by a crier yelling, "Man in the hall!", and boys picking up girls for special concerts called Artist Series. Pantyhose were required for women at all times outside the dorm. Skirts covering the knee were standard attire; culottes were allowed for weekend intermural sporting events. Boys and girls were never allowed to touch, never allowed to be alone together, and never allowed to speak to one another in the library. Mandatory bedtime at 11pm, mandatory rising by 6:55am for room inspection.

So, to start out with I wasn't a fashion plate and had no idea how to talk to boys. One day I got a note in the intercampus mail systerm. A box was located in the lobby of each dorm and the boys distributed the notes to the appropriate dorm each evening where they were slid under room doors by volunteers. A boy named Stephen Goodwin had noticed me in our English class and wanted to go to dinner. He had earned an associate's degree in missionary aviation and was completing his BA, therefore he was technically a senior, but was still in my freshman English class. My upperclass roommate looked up his picture in last year's yearbook. Looks like a real dorkster, but I try not to pin everything on appearance.

We met at the dining hall for dinner. Stephen was a little over 6' tall (height over 6' is my requirement for a man, excluding XBFRN), skinny as a rail with aviator type glasses and curlyish red hair (I hate red hair in a man; I'm a redhead myself.) But the real problem was that he couldn't carry on a conversation. I bore the burden of the conversation and we said goodbye. Now, no one would expect a second date after that, right?

Wrong. I guess I met his expectations. Another note arrived asking for another meeting. I forget what. My roommates convinced me that I should give him another chance. Maybe he was just nervous. I didn't know anything about dating, since I wasn't allowed to date in high school, so I took their advice. Second date didn't go any better. Then came the real disaster. He asked me to go on a dating outing that my friends were going to and I really wanted to go. A dating outing was a rare opportunity to get off campus and have a little fun. They were sponsored by the literary societies, BJU's answer to fraternities and sororities. Of course I said yes. We traveled to the site by bus, my friends were much too interested in each other to help me out at all so I was bored stiff, but had a great time at the outing.

After that, he asked me on another off campus date: a group roller skating event. Writing this makes me realize how stupid I was. I went, of course. I didn't have the guts to say no when he asked me to Sunday afternoon vespers, a required religious program with singing and speeches. As we walked out of the darkened building into a drizzly day, Stephen asked me for yet another date. I finally told him no. In response, he pointed to a bright spot in the cloudy sky and said, "It looks like it's going to clear up."

I didn't expect to hear from Stephen again, and I didn't. But before the beginning of the next school year, I was sitting on my bunk reading when there was a knock on the door. I had gotten a job on campus and spent the summer there. The student body wasn't back yet and summer storage was being delivered to the rooms. It was Stephen, delivering barrels for my new roommates. He actually made a half-hearted attempt to suggest that we get together. It was no struggle for me to say no this time.

When we returned from Christmas break, I learned that Stephen had gotten engaged. After all, he was graduating in May, and in the Christian conservative world, BJU is a meet (meat) market. If you don't meet someone there, you might never get married.

I never met anyone there, by the way. But that's another blog.


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