First Person

Ready, Set, Date!

A magazine intern looks for true love fast-food style.

When the bell rings, find your first date,” instructs the Student Activity Board representative, as he holds up a ring-if-you-need-assistance bell before a gathering of students in the Wilkinson Student Center. He rings the bell.

Instead of walking up to their waiting dates, guys begin shouting out numbers. “I’ve got 42! Anybody here 42? Okay, 47 then! 47? Any 47s?” It’s like a perverse game of bingo as one by one girls hesitantly hold up hands in response to their numbers.

This is the BYU version of the worldwide phenomenon of speed dating. For the event each girl is assigned a number; each guy is given a list of numbers. The idea is to spend five minutes with each person. The organizers have supplied different activities, from making paper airplanes to playing tic-tac-toe.

I’m approached by a tall, dark, handsome guy who introduces himself as Seth. We shake hands and begin the small talk when Seth glances at his list. “Oh, I’m looking for 39.” I’m 37. He drops my hand and leaves to find Miss 39. Not to worry: Ben is hovering, ready to invite me to play a game of Two Truths and a Lie.

 

As Ben takes the chair next to me at an otherwise vacant round table, I remind myself that being here is a result of my free agency. I offer as one of my truths that I began wearing glasses when I was 18 months old. This is usually perfect in a group, but one-on-one it gives Ben the excuse to look deep into my eyes for 30 seconds of our five minutes to discover if I wear contacts. I do. He guesses that my lie is that I’ve been published. I have been. He loses. I guess that he’s actually never been to Germany. He hasn’t. I win and the bell rings.

Bachelor number two is Ken. Unlike Barbie’s boyfriend, this Ken is dark haired and dark eyed and comes wearing a BYU polo shirt. Ken decides that we should make paper airplanes. As we begin folding I mention that my brothers make fun of my poorly designed airplanes. Ken tells me that he has brothers too. Connection!

We smile at each other before launching our airplanes. Mine nose dives into the carpet. Ken laughs until his sinks to the ground just a few feet away. We fly again. I win.

I’ve heard boys don’t like girls who beat them, but this is speed dating and it’s not like I’m trying. I use the last minute of our date showing Ken how I fold a paper airplane. The bell rings, but we race again. Ken wins.

“Thirty-seven!” my next date yells from across the room. “So what do you want to do?” he asks as I approach. Dating etiquette rule number one: always say you don’t know, even if you do.

“I don’t know,” I answer. “You can choose.”

“Nope,” he says. “Sometimes you just have to make decisions.” I choose Uno.

Steve and I begin our game with him laying down card after card and me picking up card after card. As he shouts, “Uno!” I ask him what his major is.

“Chemistry.”

“What do you want to do after you graduate?”

“I don’t know,” he says. I’m tempted to repeat his line about decisions, but he keeps talking. “Either go to medical school or become a doctor.”

Dating etiquette probably frowns on editing your date’s statements, but how useful has etiquette been tonight? “Aren’t they the same thing?”

“Well, no . . . Yeah, I guess they are,” he spits out as he draws another card.

The bell rings and our date is over.

I turn to see Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome pointing at me. “You. Thirty-seven. Here.” I’m a little wary, but I walk over.

“So, you’re Sarah. That’s cool. I’m Seth, and I’m majoring in—hey!” His sudden excitement startles me. Has he had an epiphany during his one-minute monologue? The mystery is soon solved.

“They’re giving out the T-shirts!” He begins shouting. “Don’t give them all away! I need one and, hey! She wants one too.” Actually, “she” is praying for the bell to ring. But I don’t have to wait. Seth leaps up and heads for the T-shirts.

I put on my coat and fish my keys out of my purse. The bell rings again, this time right behind me. “Hey! Don’t you want your T-shirt?” I accept my XL consolation prize and head for the door, adding to my mental list of dating rules that true love can’t be found in five minutes.