Rebecca is discussing the wackiness of Mormon teen dating rituals. “Dating was a serious of creative ideas that ended revealing who it was that was asking me out,” she writes. “Is this stuff uniquely Utah?”
Well, I can attest that these rituals extend at least to the quasi-Utah of Mesa, Arizona. I remember them well.
In my experience, these rituals were largely confined to the official dances and such. That is, you didn’t go jump through hoops to as a girl just to hang out, you just hung out after seminary or the like. (But those of course weren’t “dates” — they were usually “large group activities, blah blah blah,” as advised in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet).
However, for the dances and official dates, it was time to be creative. To ask one girl to a dance, I collaborated with a teacher, and he handed out a quiz in our history class that I designed (and which we actually got credit for!) where the answers were each one word long, and formed the sentence “Cami will you go to Homecoming with me.” For another date, I baked the request into folded pieces of paper hidden inside cookies. And there was always the fallback — TP the girl’s house, and hide the information (who’s asking her) in the toilet-papery mess.
Answers were similarly inventive. Or embarrassing. I recall having to sing “I’m a little teapot” in the middle of the locker wall, at lunch time (i.e., at a time when everyone would be there and watching), as my date’s friend (who happened to be the girl who I really had a crush on) supervised to make sure I didn’t miss any words. Or actions.
Non-members typically looked at us as if we were nuts. Hey, we probably were. It was a fun time.
It was also a phenomenon that was (mostly) confined to high school. After my mission, I mostly went on dates the old-fashioned way — call a girl up, ask her if she wants to go out. (Usually after an hour of pacing, running several variants of imaginary conversations through my mind to try to think of something witty to say, almost-calling her several times, and so forth — and of course, forgetting the content of all such preparations the moment she said “hello”). Post-mission, I tended to try to concentrate my creative abilities (such as they are)on the date itself, which sometimes worked well. (An early date with my future wife was a snowball fight in Mesa, Arizona — now that requires some planning).
But I did know people who didn’t entirely give up creative ways to ask things of girls. One law school classmate asked his wife to marry him by painting a highly-visible piece of University property, and nearly got arrested in the process.
I wonder how this phenomenon became part of LDS culture. I can’t imagine that Brigham Young was asking all 47 wives to marry him by baking pies with clues inside, and leaving them on doorsteps. (“Ohh, Eliza, open it up! Let’s see who wants to marry you!”). Does anyone know when or how these ideas got started?
(Or for that matter, does anyone want to share any interesting or wacky Mormon-teen-dating-rituals stories of their own?)