Unrequited Love

I just finished a ravishing little novel called “The Confessions of Max Tivoli.” It begins, “We are each the love of somebody’s life.” The eponymous narrator, cursed by nature to struggle upstream of time in a body that shrinks younger each year, spends his life in the thrall of a woman who will never know him as he is, never love him as he loves her–first as father-figure, then as husband, and finally as adopted son. The novel’s premise soon loses its gimmick and spins out a fragile love tragedy, capturing in its web the tiny kernel of hate, self or blindness at the core of unreturned love. I’m not a romantic, but it’s a week before Valentine’s Day, the crocuses are jumping the gun and, I confess, I’m in the mood for unrequited love stories.

I first saw Travis under the fluorescent lights of the Infobases office on 5th West in Provo, where we were both new hires. His shift started when mine ended, and for a few days I savored his caramel hair and chocolate eyes as we passed in the doorway. When I ran into him that first weekend at a Bryan Ferry concert in Salt Lake, and then when he transferred to my shift at the office the next week, I was definitively charmed. Travis was intensely reserved–which only added to his appeal, of course–and, though he was kind and compliant, it was always I who suggested that we break together at Ripley’s, who asked to borrow his Sarah McLachlan CD, who waited for him in the parking lot so that we could bike home together under the stars (even though I had a car and could easily have driven!). I was no stranger to the conditions of unrequited infatuation, believe me, but at twenty-one I had just come through a tumultuous year of relationships, and maybe I had matured a little–or at least had improved my game. Whatever the reason, I had more success with Travis than I had with most of my hopeless college crushes: I managed to ease things into the agonizing hang-out stage, and I could almost glimpse more around the corner. We watched bad James Bond movies, ate Sunday dinners at his house or mine, gathered dried wildflowers in November. On Valentine’s Day he gave me a schoolchild’s Lady and the Tramp valentine, and wrote on the back “You’re a cool person. Better than cool…” Travis was no writer, but even a sonneteering Shakespeare couldn’t have infused those three tantalizing dots with more pregnant promise.

Unrequited love stories have no surprise ending, of course, and “better than cool” gradually cooled to tepid as the season turned and warmed: trees ran their sap through limb and twig, but Travis showed no sign of greening. And then Jared across the street started offering me rides to school on his motorcycle, and then I made an appointment with the bishop to collect my mission papers. Most unrequited love dead ends off the heart’s highway, but Travis turned out to be a through-street: I took Don Parry’s course on ancient temples because Travis did, and that course eventually led me through the bronze doors of the Los Angeles temple, which in turn awakened my long-dormant interest in a mission; I invited to my farewell an old flame, John Welch, since he lived nearby, and John started sending me long handwritten letters while I was in Portugal; we were married a little less than a year after I returned.

Travis was not the love of my life, nor was I his. But if love is life’s wide river to the sea, then Travis is a quiet brackish eddy in the current, salt with heartbreak, sweet with time.

Your turn now. What are your favorite unrequited love stories (PG please), autobiographical, fictional, historical?

91 comments for “Unrequited Love

  1. Davis Bell
    February 7, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    Sigh. One of my home teachees is in the throes of unrequited love, and I have arrived at the following (unoriginal) conclusion: it’s just so very, very sad. I hate seeing it or thinking about it.

  2. Nate Oman
    February 7, 2005 at 3:32 pm

    I became a moderately serious distance runner in college in part, I think, as a way of sublimating serial romantic failures. I was engaged shortly after running my only marathon, and have since become fat. In the most literal sense, I think that unrequited love was better for my heart than marital bliss.

  3. marta
    February 7, 2005 at 4:05 pm

    Nate, Please tell us that your Author’s Profile photograph was taken in your thin, unrequited love days, and not in your fat and happy marital bliss days, because if that is fat…

  4. Rosalynde
    February 7, 2005 at 4:10 pm

    Davis, is she in love with you? Because otherwise it would be weird to tell your home teacher about it…. (Please, please tell me she didn’t ask for a blessing!) But yeah, unrequited love–like dating and college freedom and eating cold pizza for breakfast–is one of those things that can be pretty bitter at the time but tastes sweet when remembered from a comfortable distance.

    LOL, Nate–maybe if I’d taken up running I would have had *fewer* serial love mishaps!

  5. claire
    February 7, 2005 at 4:12 pm

    It was my first semester at BYU, fall of 1991, and somehow I found myself in a political philosophy honors class in the bowels of the Maeser building. As the semester progressed, I found myself catching the eye, more and more often, of a sandy haired stranger across the room. I managed to catch his first name through something the professor said (now that I think about it, I do believe it was Travis!), and enlisted my roommates help in scouring the student directory for guys named Travis. Don’t know what the point of that excersise was (actually, we probably did call some of them, as we were VERY immature and although most of us had active – too active – social lives, we spent a lot of time prank calling people).

    It is a tale of unrequited love in the strongest sense, because we never even spoke. For all I know, he was married. But I did continue to catch glimpses his bandana-covered head around campus for several semesters to come, and always wondered what could have been.

  6. Kristine
    February 7, 2005 at 4:15 pm

    Um, is there an upper limit on the number of characters a comment can contain? Because if I start telling my unrequited love stories, it could go on for DAYS.

  7. February 7, 2005 at 4:18 pm

    Seriously, this thread could be the largest ever. Mormons+computer nerds=unrequited love a-gogo.

    I’ll save my stories until later, but I assure you all that all my loves have been unrequited until Sumer.

  8. danithew
    February 7, 2005 at 4:22 pm

    Unrequited love is ridiculously painful but it probably keeps the one in love from getting married to an incompatible partner.

  9. February 7, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    This is precisely my problem with the common (folkloric) idea that “we will only be sealed to someone we want to be sealed to.” What if the husband loves the wife, and she doesn’t love him back?

  10. Adam Greenwood
    February 7, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    Wait and see, Mr. or Mrs. Onlooker. We’ll know soon enough. Assuming, of course, that there’s a such thing as a celestial couple, eligible to remain sealed for the eternities, in which one of them just doesnt’ ‘love’ the other.

  11. February 7, 2005 at 4:40 pm

    So, then, is it a “sin” not to love someone who loves you? Why on earth (pun intended) would being worthy of celestial glory have any effect whatsoever on whether two people can or should love each other romantically? Would they be forced to, just because they’re Celestialized?

    Is romantic love, or is it not, a righteous basis for marriage? If it is not, why aren’t we more like the Moonies, since Celestial Marriage is so gosh-all important?

  12. February 7, 2005 at 4:43 pm

    I’d much rather unrequited love than bad love, of which I got than enough of before I finally, desperately, gratefully escaped the Mormon-dating-rat-race-horror-show. It’s much, much easier to get out of an unrequited love affair than one in which the partner responds. Unrequited love is undeveloped and hence there’s little to be torn down when one realizes it’s going nowhere or in a bad direction, while full-fledged romantic flings, especially at BYU, invariably involve parents, bishops, your thousand closest friends and your own marriage-focused expectations building all sorts of plans for your future; clearly away that kind of rumble once things come crashing down is enough to make one wish all love was unrequited. (Well, not really, but for a time anyway.)

  13. Adam Greenwood
    February 7, 2005 at 4:55 pm

    Mr. or Mrs. Onlooker,
    You’re welcome to your own views on the subject, of course, but my feeling is that celestial love transcends romantic love. I can’t imagine a celestial being, fit for marriage, who would reject their spouse because they don’t ‘love’ them. Maybe I’m wrong. Wait and see.

  14. Christian Cardall
    February 7, 2005 at 5:04 pm

    Rosalynde, you capture it so well, the interminable longing against all reason, the “feast on scraps” (to use Alanis’ phrase).

    Most of my unrequited loves eventually faded in into indifference on my part, but two of them are still raw, even years after the fact. (Actually, one of them was unrequited, one I chose to cut off for the `right’ reasons; I thought it was for `the best.’)

    Not considering (or experiencing, at least yet) the possibility of their actually turning sweet, I have always thought unrequited love a terrible design flaw in our natures. The tendency to love inappropriately—when it’s not returned, or to fall when parties are committed—is this a flaw of mortality that will automatically be removed in the resurrection, like deformity or disease? Or something to struggle with through all eternity? On the other hand, design flaws are easier to accept if one is not expecting perfect design, but just a system good enough to succeed in self-replication with reasonable frequency.

    Happily, I can report that I snatched marriage from the jaws of unrequited love: after I thought I’d seen Kimberly for the last time, she called to ask for ‘help in practicing Spanish’ shortly before leaving on her mission—with the consequent long letters, etc.

    Speaking of novels and Valentine’s Day, one of my favorite novels of all time is Salman Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet, an deliciously agonizing epic of (partially) unrequited love. The story begins on a Valentine’s Day—and by pure coincidence I happened to start reading it on a Valentine’s Day several years ago. Last year I was fortunate to travel to a conference in Bombay (now officially Mumbai), where I got to see firsthand many of the places mentioned in the protagonists’ youth.

    And speaking of Sarah McLachlan, love the layered guitar textures on “Building a Mystery”, and nothing is more angelic than her voice on “Angel”.

  15. February 7, 2005 at 5:05 pm

    Considering that there are (tens of?) thousands of divorced couples in the Church whose sealings aren’t broken, apparently love is inconsequential. Obviously, it’s the sealings that matter more. It seems, therefore, that unrequited love may be the order of the next life. Perhaps instead of rueing it, we should all get used to it!

  16. February 7, 2005 at 5:06 pm

    I’m with Adam. While particular and powerful virtues are available to us in and through romantic love, and I personally wouldn’t want a life without those virtues, I’ve no great confidence that the romantic, inward sense of affection we call “being in love” has any purchase on how things must necessarily be in heaven. Maybe the gods send each other valentines, but I doubt it; I suspect that the blessings of love, as we understand it, are significantly a function of temporality and spatiality. Remove time and distance, and “longing for” someone doesn’t make much sense.

  17. Nate Oman
    February 7, 2005 at 5:07 pm

    Russell: It is by no means obvious that for the gods time and space have been removed…

  18. February 7, 2005 at 5:15 pm

    Ok, true. However, you must admit that even B.H. Roberts would allow that for the gods time and space are not nearly the obstacles they are for some typical BYU freshman, wondering if that girl over at Helaman Halls will return their call.

  19. Rosalynde
    February 7, 2005 at 5:40 pm

    I don’t know whether sexual intimacy will be a part of eternal marriage relationships; correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the scriptures are clear on this point. (“Eternal increase,” yes, but I’m not sure that must imply a sexual propagation.) The point is, whether or not there is a special form of (sexual) intimacy that remains bound between sealed spouses, I think that exalted beings will be capable of many more varied forms of emotional and personal intimacy, forms that extend beyond marriage. Christ is capable of a deeply intimate–so intimate that it’s often described in sexual terms–relationship with millions, and I think as we progress toward his state we will develop the same ability. So I like to think that star-crossed lovers–the wife widowed after a year of marriage, the hopeless life-long love thwarted by time or circumstance–will find soul’s requition then.

    Sexual fidelity is an invaluable tutor in mortality, teaching us, for one thing, how to be faithful to God. I don’t know why God didn’t wire human brains to mate for life, as some animals do: maybe the very struggle against self, the very self-abnegation that chastity requires is a lesson we are to learn; maybe, like birth defects and miscarriages and PMS, it’s just a consequence of the driving forces toward reproduction and variety that are so crucial to the trajectory of humanity.

  20. Davis Bell
    February 7, 2005 at 5:42 pm

    A definitional note: does unrequited love connote that the love was never requited? I.e. can the term not be applied to a man who falls in love with a woman, who then falls in love with him, a relationship ensues, but then the woman falls out of love with the man?


    Can’t say. Home teacher/home teachee confidentiality, you know.

  21. February 7, 2005 at 5:55 pm

    Reading this post and some of the comments makes me grateful that I didn’t go to BYU.

    I’m sure this comes as a huge surprise, but I’m the total dream of from afar, unrequited love type. Being surrounded by non-Mormons kept me out of a lot of trouble it would seem. It’s hard to envision a vasoline-smeared-lens future with someone if you’re deadset on doing the whole temple thing. Or it least it was hard for me.

    Of course, my wife had to practically hit me over the head to spur me to actually get our relationship going, but it turned out all good.

  22. Shannon Keeley
    February 7, 2005 at 6:17 pm

    I’ll second Kristine’s comment. There’s not enough space on the whole damn internet to air all my unrequited love stories. But here’s a pretty good one. . .

    If you were a BYU English major during the mid nineties —it’s time to fess up. I know I am NOT the only girl (and I’ll bet there were some boys too) who experienced unrequited love for a certain famously unmarried male English professor who taught the most unromantic of all subjects—grammar! “Mr. Madsen”—I can’t remember his first name (was it Michael?), but I do recall how very handsome he was. I suffered through two semesters of grammar related courses just to be near him. Let me tell you, the man looked sexy even while diagramming sentences. Later, when I was a writing center tutor, I was supposed to be the “liaison” between his class and the writing center. And BELIEVE ME I wanted to LIAISON!!!

    But I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps I didn’t know enough about dangling participles, or perhaps I was a few decades too young. . .who knows. All I’ve got now is a hastily scribbled note he once left in my writing center box (I desperately tried to interpret his usage of the word “liaison” to my liking), and way too much knowledge about grammar.

    It’s true, ask Brian. I still correct his commas all the time.

  23. Christian Cardall
    February 7, 2005 at 7:02 pm

    While the scriptures don’t spell things out with the clarity of a biology textbook, I think a case can be made that sexual intimacy in eternity is a reasonable reading.

    Consider the definition of exaltation: “their exaltation and glory in all things…which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever” (D&C 132:19). The word seeds is suggestive, and continuation sounds like picking up with just what we left off doing in mortality. This continuity between mortal and eternal procreation is graphically expressed in Abraham’s case. Connecting with the definition above, the purpose of eternal relations is “for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men” (D&C 132:63).

    It might be argued that such language is metaphorical, but that spin runs counter to one of the things we prize most about Joseph: the literal concreteness of his prophecy and doctrine, in contrast with the dreamy, mystic uncertainty attributed to other visionaries. And let’s not forget that his practice was anything but metaphorical.

    I can’t dispute the possibility of a broader range of personal intimacies beyond marriage among heavenly beings, but I don’t see why that would be a defining characteristic limited to the exalted; why not those in other kingdoms too? To those inheriting the celestial kingdom, “the same body which was a natural body” is promised (presumably meaning with the same functioning organ systems), and this bodily promise is not extended to those inheriting the terrestrial and telestial kingdoms (D&C 88:27-31).

    But the most compelling reason is that it’s hard to get all that excited about eternity without it.

  24. Christian Cardall
    February 7, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    Incidentally, if one demands rhetorical consistency in the use of the word “souls” in D&C 132:63 with the definition of “soul” as the combination of body and spirit in D&C 88, some wild speculation on the nature of the Fall over at M* provides a possible reconciliation.

  25. annegb
    February 7, 2005 at 8:08 pm

    Onlooker, Judith Viorst wrote once that marriage is what keeps you together while you fall in and out of love with each other. I’ve found that to be true in my marriage. Sometimes my love for him is unrequited and sometimes (probably more often, he’s such a man), his deep devotion for me is no more consequential than a nat flying around my nose. Sometimes it’s pretty cool. We’ve been married 23 years, so it must be working. Today the love is requited, but tomorrow, you never know.

    But if I were to share tales of unrequited love, I would pick the boys who have loved my daughter. They hold such a tender place in my heart, I feel so sorry for all those poor boys. She is a beauty, tall, slim, green (yeah, green) eyes, huge green eyes, cheekbones, lips, the perfect strong nose to go with it. And she laughs and smiles and she flirts and she plays the piano and sings and dances. What’s not to love?

    Nothing, according to Patrick, and Ryan, and Scott, and Cody, and Michael, and Michael, and Michael, and Justin, and Derek and Jordan and Josh…

    Oh, they are so sweet and earnest, these boys, they bring her flowers and presents and they open the door for her and they are nice to me, her chubby mom, and they get nervous around her huge, deep-voiced dad. Then I don’t see them again, and I miss them.

    Cody is in Iraq now, with the airborne, Michael is in college, in love with another girl, Michael is still working at McDonald’s, as Justin, and Josh, I don’t know what happened to Patrick and Ryan. I saw Scott one day on a date with his cute new girlfriend and he flushed with the pride of having the mother of the girl who dumped him see him out with a babe. I wanted to just give him the biggest hug and say, “I’m sorry she hurt your feelings.”

    My daughter is a wonderful girl, she’s in love yet again, she’s had unrequited love, as well, is now writing to several missionaries, and fending off proposals from another who just came home, but I don’t think I will ever get over those sweet earnest boys. I loved every minute of it.

  26. David King Landrith
    February 7, 2005 at 8:30 pm

    Over the years, I’ve had numerous chicks tell me that they’d once (in the comfortably distant past) had some kind of crush on me. Invariably, what attracts them is that I’m arrogant and unruly. And invariably, what makes them quickly tire of me is that I’m arrogant and unruly. What is one to do?

  27. Rosalynde
    February 7, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    Shannon– Michael Madsen?! It was all about Lance Larsen, girl.

  28. February 7, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    Girls, girls — can’t you leave the past alone??

    Steve “Madsen-Larsen” Evans

  29. Rosalynde
    February 7, 2005 at 8:59 pm

    Steve, you’d only have a chance if you were Steve Sorensen: clearly the alliterative first and last names, coupled with the Danish patronymic, make the man,

  30. Brian G
    February 7, 2005 at 9:30 pm

    Gee, Rosalynde, I seem to recall Steve had his chance.

  31. Kaimi
    February 7, 2005 at 9:34 pm

    Shh, Brian — you’re going to undo years of therapy!


  32. Shannon Keeley
    February 7, 2005 at 9:49 pm

    Hmmm…never had a class from Dr. Larson, (he taught poetry, right?) You’ve got a point, Rosalynde, poetry would be much more professor-crush-inducing than grammar. However, Mr. Madsen was still a bachelor, (i.e. actually “available”), which provided all those who “loved” him with that tiny glimmer of hope.
    At any rate, he’s a poor example, because as well all know—true unrequited love is much more painful, heartbreaking, and even scarring than an unrequited teacher obsession. I’ve been remembering incidents of total and extreme humiliation all day thanks to reading your thread this morning. Thanks a lot Rosalynde!

    Did I mention that he was REALLY GOOD at diagramming sentences?

  33. Bryce I
    February 7, 2005 at 10:10 pm


    Fortunately for me, my wife managed to escape the wiles of said Mr. Madsen (they dated quite seriously for a while) and went into the mission field, where she met me.

    I did become an English major when I got back from my mission, though.

  34. Shawn Bailey
    February 7, 2005 at 10:27 pm

    The following came to me after one of the first of a few fairly harsh unrequite-ations I experienced soon after my mission. If the woman that inspired it is reading (and you know who you are), well, I just want you to know how hot, brilliant, clever, rich, talented, generous, and (I could go on and on) my wife is.


    her warm pure eyes
    red yellow red roses
    climbing consuming

    in time earnest fuel
    my unanswered invitation
    like ash on warm earth

    (c) shawn p. bailey

  35. annegb
    February 7, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    I love your poem, Shawn. I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t mean it. I just wouldn’t say anything.

    But it’s wonderful.

    Again, I hope my future son-in-law is that cool.

  36. Shannon Keeley
    February 7, 2005 at 11:49 pm

    Aha! I KNEW Mr. Madsen dated a student or two. At least, that was word on the street. The rumors gave the rest of us hope. But alas—I was not one of the chosen few!

  37. danithew
    February 8, 2005 at 12:15 am

    Girls taking a class due to a crush — its an amazing phenomenon that happens at BYU. I wonder though if it is something that is mostly happening in the English department.

    Here’s a funny story of unrequited love that I’ll share due to the influence of this thread. Years ago when I was an English major at BYU I ran into a girl that I thought was unusually attractive. So I somehow obtained her phone # and asked her for a date. The weird part was that when I called, the girl who answered the phone (not the one I was asking out) recognized me by first name and voice.

    She was in one of my English classes, sat behind me and had made a point of introducing herself previously. I was clueless as to who she was. But that isn’t all. The English class we were in was the third class that we had taken together and she and yet another roommate had agreed that if I and this other dude were in a third English class with them, they would ask us out. And then, right when they are poised to do this, I call and ask for a date with yet another roommate. Needless to say, the girl who answered the phone was laughing her head off (and was a bit bemused that I didn’t even recognize her by voice or name). She didn’t tell me all of this when I called. That came later.

    Well, when I went on the date with the original girl I had been interested in, I found her kind of boring. But now that I was paying a little bit of attention to the girl who sat behind me, I asked her out. I really really liked her a lot and wanted things to happen — but of course she had a missionary in Russia. Everytime things would get cozy between us, she’d start to freak out and distance herself. She didn’t want to have to write a letter confessing she had kissed another guy. But we did really like each other. So we sort of went on this short but intense roller-coaster dating experience where we’d go out, have a blast, she’d freak out, she’d want to be “just friends”, then she’d remember she liked me, we’d go out… (repeat cycle two or three times).

    The whole thing drove me crazy. Finally I broke things off for good. But it was one of those breakups where you walk away totally respecting and appreciating the other person. I ran into her and her missionary a year later at Stewart Falls (on the trail up to Timpanogas peak). They were happily engaged and I sincerely and cheerfully congratulated them.

  38. D. Fletcher
    February 8, 2005 at 12:28 am

    If anyone has been in unrequited love with me, please call! I’ll happily…requite.

  39. Sheri Lynn
    February 8, 2005 at 12:58 am

    I hope I teach my daughters that not all love need be requited. (Is requited a word without the previx?)

    Most of us will love over and over again and be betrayed or neglected over and over again. The best gift God can offer a lover is to find out in time that this is not the right one.

    For the hormones are really, really, deeply and utterly stupid.

  40. Bryce I
    February 8, 2005 at 8:40 am


    Calm down! You’re getting a bit excited! I can tell by all of the exclamation points you use! :)

    For the record, so as not to malign the good name of Mr. Madsen (I don’t know him at all, just that my wife once dated him), Kristen was never a student in any of his classes. I think she met him through a roommate who had formerly been a student of his.

  41. Christian Cardall
    February 8, 2005 at 9:02 am

    As a member of a task force in our department charged with diagnosing and remediating our loss in market share of General Education science classes to the proliferating likes of `Chemistry in the Kitchen’, last night’s discussion proved so helpful and illuminating! Astronomy classes are our GE bread and butter, and a several-year trend of declining enrollments has led to real concerns vis a vis the number of faculty lines we’re allotted.

    We recognized early on that traditional studies of the heavens are proving inadequate to capture the students’ imagination, and that we might benefit from the addition of a sublunary Heavenly Body—we need to hire an Astronomy Babe! But I see now that our all-male committee is badly in need of diversity; we totally overlooked the potential impact of a bona fide Astronomy Hunk.

    Indeed, it is apparent that in today’s cutthroat competion for the GE student cash cow, for their own long-term health departments must consider that Terrible Question of the rising generation—Hot or Not?—more, um, explicitly.

    (the link is G-rated, or so my recent-BYU-grad-(and-still-single) brother assures me)

  42. David King Landrith
    February 8, 2005 at 9:31 am

    Where does one draw the line between unrequited love and stalking? Does anybody have any good stories about restraining orders?

  43. annegb
    February 8, 2005 at 10:48 am

    I think your brother’s idea of g and my idea of g are different. I would say PG. The older guys are quite cute. But it seems sort of icky to me.

  44. Anna
    February 8, 2005 at 3:25 pm

    Does it count if it was unrequited love someone else had for *me* rather than the other way around? (Usually I call that “being stalked,” but this story is different.)

    My family moved in November of my junior year of high school. About a month later, I received a letter postmarked from the city where we had lived. I assumed it was from one of my old friends, but I was puzzled by the unfamiliar swirly handwriting and the absence of a return address. Imagine my astonishment when I opened it up and found, sealed in wax, four pages of something approximating free verse poetry, expressing undying love for me, signed “Anonymous.”

    I was completely stunned, and a bit taken aback. Some sections were strange enough that I wondered if I was actually being mocked (“Your mouth’s smile could match the Sun’s warmth, joule for joule, and more”), and much of it was so over the top that I didn’t know if I should be moved or embarrassed:

    “Could I embody and unbosom now
    that which is most within me, could I wreak
    my thoughts upon expression, and thus throw
    Soul, heart, mind, passions, feelings, strong or weak
    All that I would have sought and all I seek,
    Bear, know, feel, and yet breathe, into one word,
    and that one word lightning, that would I speak
    to You!”

    I called up several of my friends and accused them of playing an elaborate practical joke on me. They denied involvement and seemed as sincerely mystified as I was. A few weeks later, my family went back to visit over Christmas break. I showed the letter to people, asking if anyone recognized the handwriting, but no one had any clues.

    A month later, it happened again: four more pages, same swirly script, same wax seal. The writing style may be slightly more awkward (there’s a long reference to Daphnis and Chloe that I still don’t understand), though also a little more suggestive (“How I could taste of your virgin lips sweetly as honey from the comb”). It concludes in desperate fashion:

    “I love you more than Love could
    justify. Love himself seethes with
    jealousy for the love I have for You!
    Just one kind word would be enough
    for me to say to myself ‘I have not
    wasted my life,’ and to be happy forever.

    Raison d’etre, I live only for you
    My heart has but one door,
    and You have the key.
    I sign to my Angel with my nom de guerre,


    And that was it. No more. A few years afterward, one of my friends asked if I had ever figured out who had done it. She assured me that if it had been a joke engineered by someone in my group of friends, the secret would have been bound to seep out over time, and I’m inclined to agree.

    I saved the letters, and everything above is a direct quote, preserving the original capitalization and spacing where possible. I still don’t know who wrote them. Did someone really feel that much ardor for me? If he was so smitten, why did he express his feelings only anonymously, when there was no way I could respond in kind? Why did he stop writing? Has he fallen in love with someone else, and does he write her similarly overwrought letters?

    Now I hope I never do learn who wrote the letters. I’ve come to savor the strangeness and wonder of it all. When I’m feeling melodramatic, I call it “The Great Mystery of My Life.”

  45. Kristine
    February 8, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    That’s pretty good Anna. The best love poem anyone ever wrote me had this as its final couplet:

    “And though you think you’re fat,
    I love you Sunday, Friday, or Sat.”

  46. claire
    February 8, 2005 at 3:37 pm

    The swirly handwriting prompted the question, are you sure it was a he?

  47. Anna
    February 8, 2005 at 3:45 pm

    That’s VERY funny, Kristine. Was the guy trying to be tongue-in-cheek, or did he think he was being sweet and profound? I can’t decide which is better.

    It reminds me of my new favorite pick-up line, courtesy of Napoleon Dynamite: “I see you’re drinking one percent. Is that ’cause you think you’re fat? Because you’re not. You could probably drink whole milk if you wanted to.”

  48. Kaimi
    February 8, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    Here’s a question for Rosalynde or Shannon, or any other grammarians around here —

    Can one requit (or unrequit) anything besides love? Is this a single-use word? (Like “wend” — you really don’t wend anything except a way, do you?) Can there be an unrequited compliment or unrequited respect? Or perhaps an unrequited DVD?

  49. Rosalynde Welch
    February 8, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    Anna, I love that story! But why, why would s/he not provide any way for response? And how does one respond to that, anyway? Actually, the impossibility of response was probably the precondition for its expression, anyway: it sounds like even the slightest risk of rejection would undo your ardent suitor. And of course you saved the letters; you must!

    Kristine, I’ve never inspired any love poetry, even love poetry that includes abbreviated days of the week. Now if he had done something with “Wed.”, maybe he’d have had more success.

  50. Rosalynde Welch
    February 8, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    Kaimi, I think that “to requite” can also mean “to avenge,” so an injury or offense could also be requited or, better, unrequited.

    I’m intrigued about the unrequited DVD, though. What exactly did you have in mind?

  51. February 8, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    Kaimi, that’s so easy even I know the answer: yes, other things get requited:


    etc., etc.

  52. Kaimi
    February 8, 2005 at 4:05 pm

    Rosalynde and Steve,

    Alright, you’ve definitely got requited. What about unrequited? (Unrequited taxes, Steve?)


    If I lend Steve a DVD of mine, expecting that he’ll return the favor (lend me a DVD of his), and he doesn’t, (the bum!) is that an unrequited DVD? (Or is it perhaps unrequited if he keeps my DVD and refuses to give it back?)

  53. February 8, 2005 at 4:17 pm


    Sure — dreams can be unrequited. See the best book ever written on Newfoundland, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams.

    But generally, yes, it’s an adjective that works with an abstract noun. Sheesh.

  54. Anna
    February 8, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    Rosalynde, I’m glad you like my story. I think it may be one of the best stories I have from my largely-uneventful life, so I may have erred by unveiling it so early in my bloggernacle career. Should have saved it up for later.

    Claire: No, I’m not sure it was a guy, or if it was meant sincerely. But since no one ever confessed or offered further information, I think it’s more likely that a guy wrote it with at least some degree of sincerity. (The reasoning being, girls doing it as a joke would gloat eventually, but a guy doing it sincerely would be too shy and/or embarrassed to admit it.) The handwriting isn’t obviously masculine or feminine–I think the swirly-ness was intended to mask someone’s identity, and possibly to make it seem “romantic.”

  55. Kaimi
    February 8, 2005 at 4:25 pm


    General-usage it is. I guess all that’s left is for me to work it into a brief, now, or perhaps a document request.

    “The contract is also invalid because defendant’s good faith was unrequited by Plaintiff. . .”

  56. annegb
    February 8, 2005 at 4:27 pm

    Kaimi, you haven’t answered me yet. I’m waiting. I need to talk to you. Well, I don’t need to, I want to. Are you not speaking to me?

    “I’ve been desperately trying to save my marriage for the last 35 years.” -Ashleigh Brilliant

  57. annegb
    February 8, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    non sequiter, see I know some big words, too.

  58. danithew
    February 8, 2005 at 4:31 pm

    On the difference between unrequited love and stalking … I just have to say that I think a lot of media (songs, tv shows, movies) pushes the idea that a woman who initially isn’t interested can be wooed and persuaded successfully by a diligent love-seeker. I can’t help but think of the scene where the idiot in Cinema Paradiso stands outside the girl’s window for days on end, suffering patiently through all kinds of weather … and then finally she warms to him. The basic idea is that a girl who is showered with roses, gifts, poetry, singing … whatever it is … will ultimately fall in love with the guy who pines and pines for her.

    I’m not much of a believer in that idea. My thinking is that 99% of the time the girl has to have an initial mutual interest or at least a vague curiosity and willingness to be courted. Otherwise the guy should just forget it.

    I know a guy who dated a girl exclusively while she insisted on maintaining her own right to date other people. They both shared that understanding. He was clearly smitten and she seemed to enjoy having the freedom to do whatever while also enjoying his utter loyalty. They finally did get married but it seemed like he went through an unusual amount of misery to get to that point. The funny part was that when we arrived at the wedding reception there were little scrolls recounting their courtship … and she had written in them that she had known from the very first time she saw him that he was the right guy. From those of us who had been around, it seemed like the ultimate in revisionist history.

    Then again, I think every couple has the right to tell their own story — I just shudder a little bit when there is a bit of deliberate carelessness with the facts.

  59. danithew
    February 8, 2005 at 4:51 pm

    Ok … warning. Heavy serious scripture on a normally lighthearted thread. But I think unrequited love is a pretty big scriptural theme.

    The book of Revelation in the New Testament provides excellent relationship advice:

    Revelation 3:15-16
    15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
    16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

    It sounds to me like the Lord isn’t too enthused by the concept of unrequited love. Then again, who has suffered more patiently and lovingly for his spouse?

    Mormon 6:17
    O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!

    Moses 7:29-33
    29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
    30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;
    31 And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?
    32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
    33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;

    Of course the difference between earthly relationships and the relationship between mankind/womankind and God is significant. There are many potentially good bridegrooms and brides but only one Bridegroom.

  60. Shannon Keeley
    February 8, 2005 at 5:43 pm

    Good point about stalking vs. unrequited love. I’m probably more guilty of the former. To think of all the wasted time and gas used up in the many pathetic “drive bys” I did. By “drive by” I mean driving by house where the object of your unrequited love lives. (Sounds more like stalking, eh?) What was I hoping to gain from these efforts? I still don’t know. . .

    Kristine’s couplet is hilarious. You should have posted that on “Hooray for Dialogue.” Okay—so it’s not a line from a movie. . .yet! Maybe Brian can work it into his next screenplay. . .

    And since we’re sharing pieces of poetry, I’ve got a really good one.

    When I was on Study Abroad in London, Brian was feeling lonely without me and he seemed to be seeing a lot of white Toyota Camry’s on the road (the type of car I drive), which reminded him of me all the more.

    One of the letters he sent had a poem that started out:

    God damn these
    White Camrys!

    So, Danithew.. . .I have to disagree with you in that I do believe one can be wooed by a suitor’s efforts. . .

  61. danithew
    February 8, 2005 at 5:51 pm

    I believe a person can be wooed … I just doubt how often an utterly disinterested person is persuaded to fall head over heels for someone who pursues them with romantic gifts or demonstrations of love.

  62. Shannon Keeley
    February 8, 2005 at 5:59 pm

    Yes, I agree Danithew. I think that there has to be some organic, innate connection which can’t be “manufactured” by the courtship / wooing rituals. However, I think that wooing can play a big role, in, say, helping someone re-think their initial assumptions about a suitor. . .

  63. David King Landrith
    February 9, 2005 at 7:50 pm

    Anna, is that you? I’m so touched that you’ve kept my letters.

  64. Jim F.
    February 10, 2005 at 3:08 am

    Rosalynde, this may be my favorite T&S post of all time: great post as well as great ripostes. Thanks.

  65. danithew
    February 10, 2005 at 8:38 am

    Here’s a CNN article I ran into this morning that says “Lost Love Really Can Cause Broken Heart”:


  66. annegb
    February 10, 2005 at 10:25 am

    I remember one halcion day oh, about 15 years ago, my best friend (one of about 30–my sisters are my VERY best friends, then I have a whole bunch of best friends, and a whole, whole bunch of really good friends and…this could go on forever) ANYWAY—and I were sitting on the small steps at the front of my house, just gossiping and shooting the breeze. Her husband was the bishop.

    We somehow got on the subject of who we thought was cute in our ward. We agreed that our husbands were both hunks. We talked about our former bishop “oh, yeah, he has the cutest smile and those eyes!” I thought the vet was cute, but sort of a jerk, although I liked him, and isn’t it funny how Sister Jones (not her real name) is so in love with her skinny, dorky husband? Then she said, “I think Jack Larson (not his real name)is quite attractive.”

    Me: “Him? No way. He’s not cute at all.”

    Her: “I think so. I enjoy him. I like to talk to him and I think he’s cute.”

    We came up with a list of about 10 guys who were the cutest in our ward, not counting our husbands, who we loved dearly and who we both agreed were cute. And we went home and made dinner, and helped kids with the homework.

    Three years later, her big husky handsome husband died, weighing only 80 lbs., with supreme grace and love in his heart for everyone who came to tell him goodbye. The spirit was thick in that hospital room.

    Eight months after that, she married that tall skinny dorky guy. He’d been divorced by his wife (one of our circle of friends, we loved her still). Her husband had been sick for a long time, and would have blessed that marriage.
    They each brought 7 kids to the marriage and now, 12 years later, they are happy, and each cherishes life–and each other in the light of the sorrow they’ve experienced.

    She doesn’t remember that day we sat on my steps talking about who was cute in our ward. But I do. You guys, you never know who’s looking at you. Look around Sunday and wonder if one of those middle aged women is thinking “who’s the cutest guy in this room” during the quiet of the sacrament.

  67. February 10, 2005 at 10:45 am

    This post has been a curious one for me to read since I find it so hard to relate to. I can honestly say that I have never experienced unrequited love. I can’t even imagine what it would mean to “love” from afar. I almost never even admire someone from afar, let alone “love” them.

    My experience of love has not been the “falling into” kind. I think I grow in love with someone instead. Feelings of love arise in me because of and through deep soul knowledge of someone that develops over a long time. Since that sort of soul knowledge can only be acquired in a mutual relationship of trust , loyalty, and affection, whenever I’ve grown in love with someone they’ve always grown in love with me too. As for breaking up with someone one once loved—I’ve always been the one who has initiated the break up so I don’t really relate to that either.

    Rosalynde, I find it hard to believe that you’ve never inspired any love poetry!

    I have an apple box full of old notes and letters much of which might fall in the category of “love poetry”. I keep these love notes around mostly to show my daughters someday. I think I want them to know that you can love someone very much (at 17, 19, or 21) and still not marry them. Perhaps, I hope my old love notes will give them a longer view than we sometimes have in high school.

  68. Kevin Barney
    February 10, 2005 at 11:13 am

    Anne, your post reminded me of a funny column that appeared in Sunstone once, about a game a couple liked to play in sacrament meeting called something like “the Polygamy Game.” As I recall, the way it works is that each spouse picks three sisters in the room for additional wives. You then compare and contrast your respective choices, and try again. The game ends when the wife bonks the husband over the head with a hymnal.

  69. annegb
    February 10, 2005 at 11:18 am

    Oh, Kevin, you are evil. Now I will have to play that game. My husband will probably refuse. Actually, I have a list of women who would like him after I die. One of my best friends is on it. I was telling her one day that I thought a particular “old maid” woman would be perfect for him. She said, “Anne, you said I could have him.” I said, “oh, yeah, I forgot. Okay, you can have him.”

    He is dismayed that I give him away so easily. But I feel guilty having such a great husband and not sharing him. I want polygamy in heaven so I can be alone in my cabin in the woods with the hot tub and color Tv and endless books and regular visits from Walt Whitman and CS Lewis. And him, of course. The other women can help him create worlds without number. I do not want children for eternity. That does not sound fun to me.

  70. Rika
    February 10, 2005 at 11:23 am

    Okay, so I guess I have to admit to an unrequitted love story, and I would like some feedback because I am just so smitten by it.

    So I go home from college for christmas break to visit my family for a month. And I was sitting in Relief Society with my newly married sister and I look up and there is this missionary grinning at me. Needless to say I was taken aback-what kind of a missionary sits and grins at a 20 year old girl? Flattered nonetheless, I left relief socieyt and was waiting outside the bishop’s office for my father to finish his interviews so we could all go home. To my surprise, he comes up and introduced himself and we talked for a few minutes, and then I left. Later, as the break was coming to a close, I was sitting in my room playing video games alone in my house, and the doorbell rings. And there the missionaries were! My father is bishop and they wanted to talk to him but he wasn’t home, nor was anyone else, so I told them to come back later. Of course we had a wonderful conversation before.

    Then, my childhood best friend had just gotten married and her reception was coming up so I offered to help set up and do the flower arrangements etc. So the day comes, and I go up to help, and to my surprise the missionaries were sitting right there, helping with the tables and whatnot. Goodness, I am just so attracted to this one missionary. Regretfully, his companion was shamelessly flirting with me and it made me a little ill in my stomach, but of course good conversation flourished. At the reception, they were allowed to be there because there were so many non-members there and they did get several discssion dates from it. And then as I was sitting next to my brother eating cake, he comes up and tells me some experiences from his mission and just had a good conversation.

    Then It was time for me to leave for college, but I still had three days left, including one sunday. So I go to choir, my mother is the choir director, and I am just sitting there hating it because I hate singing, and lo and behold, the missionaries decide to come to choir for their first and only time, and sat behind me. It was so funny, neither of them could sing and it was just funny. Then after church, we chatted for a little while, I asked him a question about the priesthood that one of my non-member friends asked. And then the sad goodbye…”well i’ll probalby never see you again, unless you get transferred to norman…” “haha, yeah, well you never know, transfers are next week.”

    so as my last day at home, I confessed to my mother that iw as infatuated with a missionary. that is so bad. so of course she has them over for dinner. i was fairly disappointed because i was so nervous i was shaking and i couldn’t really say anything because i was so nervous, and since i was shaking, i kept spilling things and doing stupid things, and he kept making fun of me. and then another sad goodbye…

    and then of course, i came a few weeks later, for my birthday to celebrate it with my family. as a joke i asked, “are the missionaries coming for dinner?” and my father replied, “well i’ll call them.” uh-oh, i didn’t expect that. so of course, they come over. seeing me again, the missionary said, “what are you doing back here? why don’t you stay in norman?” as a joke. i felt fairly stupid. and i wished my father hadn’t invited them. but then of course we sat down to dinner, and i shakily got the seat in front of him. we talked for 2 hours about everything. about his water polo career, about what he was going to do after his mission, about his high school experience, about my college experiences, etc etc. i was just in bliss. and then as we said goodbye for the real last time, my dogs were being irritating so i was attempting to herd them into their cages, but they were being so irritating it tooke me awhile and they were heading out the door. so mad at my dogs, i just gave up, and then i realized that he was waiting for me so he could shake my hand goodbye. and then tell me that i need to stay in norman.

    that was about a month ago. needless to say, i cannot keep my mind off the missionary. i admit, i have some emotional problems, and have recently been diagnoised as a borderline personality disorder, which i have trouble even liking peole and maintaining relationships. but there is something so different about him, and i would do anything for him. i am so head over heels in love with a MISSIONARY. goodness, i am so bad, but he was just so wonderful, and he captured my heart.

    my question to you all is, how common is it for missionaries to return to their mission and marry girls that they met, or contact them once they finish, or how many of you think i am evil for falling in love with a missionary>?

  71. Mark Martin
    February 10, 2005 at 11:32 am

    Apparently there was a T&S server hiccup Wednesday night which deleted several comments beyond #63. Perhaps later I’ll try to re-write. For now, though, I’ll share an autobiographical poem (work in progress) inspired by Rosalynde and her call for unrequited love stories. The idea is that I’ll add the happy ending in the hopefully not-so-distant future. Any suggestions for the title? Here goes…

    TRYING TOO HARD (actual title TBD)

    When I moved to Boston as 2000 drew nigh,
    It seemed such a boon to this darn lucky guy.
    A ward filled with talent clear up to the sky
    And dozens of temple ready ladies nearby.

    A paradise for courtship,
    Or so I did think,
    I was quite good at friendship,
    But beyond that I’d sink.

    A nice first date, and perchance then a second,
    A few weeks more and she’d love me, I reckoned.
    My dreams and she in my mind so well fitted,
    Till I opened my eyes to see love unrequited.

    This exercise repeated itself many times,
    A rich man I’d be if each paid me in dimes.
    My immunity built up such a resistance,
    My guy friends admired my rugged persistence.

    My best friend and I, we’d commiserate
    Each time a romance reached the “just friends” fate.
    Said he, when I thought to stop dating and ‘shove it’,
    “Humble pie tastes good when you eat enough of it.”

    If you face this unfortunate circumstance,
    Please learn from my unhappy experience.
    Should you be facing love unrequited,
    You’ll handle it best once you’ve remitted.

  72. annegb
    February 10, 2005 at 11:35 am

    Rika, you sound like me, I love it!

    I know several guys who fell in love with girls on their missions and went back, married them and brought them home. It happens. It’s not immoral, it’s human. You are not evil at all, hon.

    Oh, to be young and in love again. I think God is smiling a big smile at you with crinkly eyes.

    God bless. This is what life is about.

  73. Andrea Wright
    February 10, 2005 at 11:48 am

    Wow, I’m so envious of those elite few of you who inspired poetry. I was once told my eyes were the color of rootbeer, does that count?

    The summer before my sophomore year I met and fell madly in love with one of my older brother’s best friends. Oh the ecstasy when by some miracle he, a lofty senior, asked lowly me to Homecoming. We dated (not exclusively, because that was forbidden by both our parents) for the next 9 months and then right before he left for a choir trip (I know what you’re thinking, but he was one of the cool guys in choir)he asked me to PROM!!! He came home and brought me a little souvenier and a beautiful letter about how much he missed me. A day later, as I walked down the hall, I saw him in front of me with his arm around another girl. I shrugged it off in my naivetee, but then people started coming up to me asking me if I was okay. Slowly, the news came out that he had been spotted holding hands with this same girl on the trip! He told me he would still love to honor his invitation to Prom (how noble) and pathetcially, I consented. Fortunately, my Dad made me call him and tell him I would under no circumstances allow myself to be his doormat. So, my dreamdate to the Prom went unrealized and he took HER. The love of my life who I hadn’t even kisssed yet (wonder why he tired of me?) had betrayed me with his hand that for nine months had been mine alone to hold. It was very tragic and haunted me for years to come.
    The funniest twist is that we ran into his wife at my husband’s best friend’s wedding. My husband started chatting with her like long lost friends. A little alarmed, I asked how he who was born and raised in Las Vegas, knew her who was from Preston, Idaho. Well, it turned out he had had a few summer flings with her when he went to his friend’s summer house in Preston probably at the same time her future husband was cruelly breaking my heart. Although, I think my husband may have broken her heart.

  74. Rosalynde Welch
    February 10, 2005 at 12:14 pm

    ANDREA! My heart is breaking for you… so tragic. I think teenage love can be one of the most intense experiences of life, especially if the love is returned… I never experienced that–never had a steady-dating relationship until my husband, really–and I sort of regret it, even though it almost always ends in heartbreak. Oh, and by the way, given my husband’s deep and enduring love of rootbeer, I would indeed consider it poetry of the highest order if he told be that my eyes were the color of rootbeer.

    Mark–yeah, sorry about the lost comments, don’t know what happened there. But I love your poem! Ah, the terrors and titillations of the young professional singles ward… By the way, does this mean that I actually *have* inspired love poetry now, even though the poem isn’t about me?

    Rika– Having been infatuated with a missionary myself before, I can assure you that you’re not evil for having the feelings. What matters is how you handle the feelings–not doing anything to disrupt the missionary’s service, and trying to prepare and protect yourself from disappointment.

    Jim–wow, what a high compliment. Thank you!

  75. Mark Martin
    February 10, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    Rosalynde, it’s official… you have inspired love poetry.

  76. Kevin Barney
    February 10, 2005 at 1:10 pm

    Rika, Rosalynde is of course right that there is nothing wrong with the feelings themselves, so long as you are circumspect in how you act on them. Having once been a 19 to 21-year old missionary, I can tell you that they don’t go away for two years and simply stop thinking of girls. Not gonna happen. That is a totally unrealistic ideal. A little flirting simply comes with the territory, and it is not unusual for a missionary to return after his mission and hook up with someone he met there (but by the same token it’s not something you can really count on, I’m afraid).

  77. Andrea Wright
    February 10, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    Rosalynde, thanks for your empathy. While I’m glad I loved and lost a few times before marrying my wonderful husband, I think there’s something very romantic and sweet about marrying your first real love.

  78. Brian G
    February 10, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    Rosalynde may say she didn’t inspire any love poetry, and who am I to doubt her, but I don’t know of anyone who’s inspired more love prose.

    In fact, Travis’s “You’re a cool person. Better than cool…” is poetry in and of itself. The Lady and the Tramp valentine was a nice touch too.

  79. danithew
    February 10, 2005 at 1:38 pm


    I’ve heard of games that were played to pass the time during sacrament meeting, but I had never heard of the spousal polgyamy game. That’s about the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. I like the way “game over” is determined as well. I wonder what the husband has to say in order to get bonked over the head (since the wife consented to playing the game in the first place).

  80. Sheri Lynn
    February 10, 2005 at 3:23 pm

    (Am I the only one who is very surprised that adults are having to play games to pass time at sacrament meeting? Sacrament meeting is too long, but I thought you had to be under 6 to admit it.) (Someone ought to make y’all some quiet books.)

    (Also, annegb, you continue to delight me with your posts. I’m going through a rough patch of road, but I can count on you to get my wheels off the ground just long enough to give my poor rattled-together teeth a chance to ungrit for a moment.)

    (MY cabin would be at the celestial beach, not in the celestial woods, but otherwise I agree completely on the “he could visit me now and then” notion. Maybe once or twice an eon you could come visit and build sand castles with me, and I could come help you rake impossibly bright red, orange, and brown leaves in the celestial autumn, and jump into the pile laughing.)

    I just finished Orson Scott Card and Kathryn H. Kidd’s LOVELOCK which has greatly reinforced my fatigue with most of humanity. One of the best books I’ve ever read, too.

  81. Johnna Cornett
    February 10, 2005 at 3:56 pm

    Back in the last century, in 1984, I always sat on the right hand side of the bowl of honor colloquium, in the 18th row, where I could see Dale in the front row. He didn’t say much, lean and thoughtful, a model of restraint, with amazing brown eyes and dark blond hair. What lovely children we would have–I think I desired him the way a preying mantis does her mate. But there was no way to get near elegant, restrained, intellectual Dale, with his long slim fingers resting on his books and notepaper. There was a buffer of quietude about him, and always too many people in the crowd between.

    Besides, there were plenty of people, easy to be around, who wanted to be around me. Right?

    There wasn’t anything like the Sadie Hopkins dance in L.A. where I came from, nor all this creative dating scavenger hunting baroque theatrical proscribed interactions between guys and gals. We always just hang out together in high school, in a large and happy, though mostly Godless, crowd, and if two had feelings for each other and said so, and made out, then they would start dating. Really a much better system. But this made the novelty of the big dance at BYU where the girls ask guys an opportunity to know the elusive Dale. I prepared a ridiculous scavenger hunt, offered baby pictures of myself with the clues, and signed it “femme timide.” When Dale finished the obstacle course and we spoke on the phone, he was happy to have secured himself a date for the dance, but he didn’t want to hang out beforehand and was less-than-amused with the three-step hunt. I remember trying to make sure he really knew who I was, and realizing it’s not fair to make someone do a scavenger hunt and then be evaluated and rejected for the dance, so we set up which place to attend the dance and where to meet.

    Of course, we had a tedious time. We had nothing in common, he hated my red suede boots, and we had not so much as a conversation after. Once in awhile I would look over in class at Dale the alabaster vase, lovely but empty to me, the mathematically perfect curve of his cheek implying an intelligence that was not.

    At the very end of the year, I was in the hall for my colloquium final grade meeting with the professor, and Dale’s invisible roommate, Brian happened to be in the hall for his meeting after. Brian was a bear of a guy, an absolute Other; I remember assuming he must be some kind of jock who didn’t much read, though he was taking honors classes. I don’t think I even knew he was Dale’s roommate until he told me so that day, how months earlier when the scavenger hunt envelope arrived for Dale, he had to explain the clever jokes that Dale didn’t get, he was annoyed I had invited Dale and not him. And then it turns out Brian wrote poetry, strange evocative stuff that didn’t take any of the approved forms of AP English. I still remember a phrase:

    We’re off the the witch
    we may never come home.

    Grading period for the end of the year is when this happened–Brian disappeared into the mission field and I never saw him again, though I kept looking for him, hoping he would come back to school early or show up soon. Kicked myself, for the next four years, at my own foolish bad luck of picking the wrong guy and not even seeing the one who was worth knowing.

    Eventually I met and married Buckaroo Banzai, but that is an ongoing tale of requited love.

    Brian, wherever you are, thanks for all those years of sweet forlorn self-recrimination, and the dream that you are somewhere making poems, ever 21.

  82. Johnna Cornett
    February 10, 2005 at 4:25 pm

    whoops, that should read:
    the mathematically perfect curve of his cheek implying something that was not.

    I’m sure Dale was intelligent–though at the time I couldn’t imagine that someone intelligent wouldn’t be into me.

  83. annegb
    February 10, 2005 at 4:59 pm

    I am thoroughly enjoying all your love stories. I can’t for the life of me remember why I put, or even IF I put, that quote from Ashleigh Brilliant, although it is sort of true. I puzzle myself sometimes.

    Joanna, your post reminded me of this guy, whose name I have tried in vain to recall, I can see his face, who liked me in senior year. I am going to have to get an old yearbook and find him. I caught his attention when I was outside a dance crying because my boyfriend had sort of unceremoniously and cruelly dumped me, and he thought I was cute and asked me out.

    But I–what is that word for when you don’t show up–stood up, I stood him up for another guy, the bad guy type. I think of him once in awhile, he looked like that young kid on Everwood who had the affair with the older girl. And I think, “what was I thinking? How did I not realize how cute he was?” I wish I could remember his name.

    I am sad that this post will run out and we will go on to something like tort reform and the religious freedom of animal sex worshippers.

  84. Mark Martin
    February 10, 2005 at 5:10 pm

    Let’s do our part to keep this post alive well into the future, even if the pace slows dramatically! By the way, I really enjoy your comments on all the threads I’ve seen (which has only been about a month). I suspect we are very different, yet I *love* hearing your refreshing viewpoints, perspectives, and humor.

    Congratulations on kicking off a very lively thread. Who would have thought it possible without a lot of controversy?

  85. Bill
    February 10, 2005 at 5:12 pm

    Here’s a story on this subject with a bizarre twist:


    Kind of funny, kind of sad

  86. diogenes
    February 10, 2005 at 5:12 pm

    Am I the only one who is very surprised that adults are having to play games to pass time at sacrament meeting?

    Yes, probably, although the “Polygamy Game” seems a bit over the top. I much prefer “In the Bathtub,” where one quietly amuses one’s self by adding the phrase “in the bathtub” to the end of song titles in the hymnal. Much better than a quiet book. Be careful not to let your mirth show noticeably.

  87. Sheri Lynn
    February 10, 2005 at 5:43 pm


    I really didn’t think I could be shocked….!

    (We are all enlisted…in the bathtu–oh, no. I’m DOOMED. ?Como se dice ‘in the bathtub’ en espan~ol??)

  88. Sheri Lynn
    February 10, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    Obviously I need to learn how to do the accent marks and ~ns and such properly when posting online.

    (I stand all amazed…in the bathtub…..) (You’re right, it’s fun.)

  89. MDS
    February 10, 2005 at 6:01 pm

    That reminds me of a basketball game at which a group of friends decided we would cheer along with the cheerleaders, but add “in bed” at the end of each cheer. Neither they nor the administration were amused.

  90. MDS
    February 10, 2005 at 6:38 pm

    Now that I think about it, that may have something to do with why my love for certain cheerleaders remained unrequited!

  91. Sheri Lynn
    February 11, 2005 at 10:41 am

    I don’t think “unrequited” is synonymous with “unconsummated.” Could be a cheerleader or two loved you deeply but couldn’t show it….



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