As an adult convert to the Church, I had plenty of embarrassing moments of adjustment along the path to integration. Mostly, these were caused by excessive zeal, rather than lingering bad habits. For example, there was the formal meal when I realized that I had just taken one bite of a dessert that contained trace amounts of alcohol. I excused myself from the table, dashed from the restaurant, and drove to the house of my “mentor” (a young returned missionary), who assured me that I wasn’t going to hell … at least for that. This was a bit embarrassing, to be sure, but it does not hold a candle to my most embarrassing moment.
My most embarrassing moment involved a young woman whom I met in my Missionary Preparation class at BYU. We were both from Wisconsin, but she was a city girl, and I was a country bumpkin. She came from a family with money, and I was lucky to make my apartment rental payments. She was thinking about a mission, but I had firmly decided that a mission was the most important thing I could do with my life at that time.
I have never been more attractive to women than immediately after my baptism. In reflecting on this phenomenon, I later concluded that this was largely due to the fact that I was absolutely set on a mission. As a result, I was a low-risk dating partner (i.e., not likely to pursue marriage). It may also have had something to do with the fact that I was quite uninterested in dating. For some people, nothing is more attractive than disinterest. In any event, I found that my social life was detracting from my focus on mission preparation, so I resolved to stop dating until after my mission. (As you might imagine, my returned-missionary roommates thought I was nuts, and they were probably right. But I was sincere!)
One Friday night, I arrived back at my apartment after studying late at the Harold B. Lee Library. (Yes, I was as geeky as I sound.) The ward was having a dance in my apartment complex, but dancing was strictly verboten under my new resolution. As I walked past the event, the second counselor in the bishopric rushed over to me, a glint in his eye, and said, “Someone is looking for you.”
C: “A beautiful girl in a brand new Mercedes.”
G: “That doesn’t sound like anyone I know.”
C: “Well, she said she sits next to you in your Missionary Prep class.”
It took me a minute or two to think of who that might be. According to this fellow, she had stopped by to ask me out on a date. And left her telephone number! When I met up with my roommates, they were all in a dither. “She’s gorgeous,” “Yeah, and that car!” Stuff like that. I said, “Do I have to call her?
Anyway, I felt obliged to call, and I explained that I had sworn off dating. Just imagine that conversation! I am blushing just thinking about it.
“Gee, that’s really thoughtful of you, but I’ve decided to stop dating.”
“Not forever, you understand, just until after my mission. It’s really important to me, you know.”
“Well, I was just thinking of a movie or something. I wasn’t implying …”
“It has nothing to do with you. It’s just …”
We didn’t talk much after that.
With that sort of resolve, you can guess that I made it all the way to (and through!) my mission without another date. When I returned to BYU, however, I found that my social status had changed dramatically, from “cool new convert” to “desperate RM.” Especially desperate since I tacked on an extra six months of no dating to the front of my mission! Nevertheless, after six months of mind games with members of the opposite gender, I was ready to call a moratorium again. I needed a fresh start. About a month prior to the end of the winter semester, I again resolved to forego dating, this time until the fall semester.
Shortly thereafter, my next-door neighbor called and asked me to attend a small social gathering. Just three couples. Couples?
“But, Rick, remember that I am not dating?”
“You don’t need to bring a date, exactly, but you need to bring a girl.”
We were close friends, and I didn’t want to disappoint, but I had made the resolution. Could I find a way to accommodate both? My roommate suggested that I call my friend Sue. She wouldn’t read anything into it. After much self-fortification — I hated making those calls — I telephoned Sue. We talked for a very long time about her day, the weather, school, soccer, and who knows what else. Finally, I asked her if she would be willing to accompany me to this party. I was trying to make it sound un-datelike, but it was hopeless. I had broken my resolution. Two months later, we were engaged. Now, almost 19 years later, we are still together. There it is folks, proof that I can be taught!
So, anyone else out there who has taken faithfulness a smidge too far?