First Person

First Person: Worst Firsts

Alumni recall regrettable but unforgettable first dates.

A cartoon depicting a date where two students are seated on the floor and are painting colorful patterns on canvasses with their toes.
Illustration by Travis Foster

Artistic Feet

By Emily Anderson Andrus (BA ’11), Midvale, UT

It was a brand-new semester and I was talking to the cutest boy, whom I had just met at the ward break the fast event. In the middle of our conversation, however, another guy came up and interrupted to ask for my number. I had chatted with him at church earlier and was mildly flattered at his attention. He soon called and asked for a date.

Turns out, that feeling quickly wore off when we walked into his apartment and he proudly announced, “Toe painting!” Not finger painting. No, toe painting. He set out paints and papers on the floor for just the two of us and said, “Well, let’s take off our shoes and get to work!” Feet covered in gooey paint, I gamely attempted a depiction of Y Mountain and a few other works of art. I tried to smile and make conversation. But, really, it was gross.

When he called for a second date, I politely refused—and not just out of fear for his unique date ideas. I already had a date with that cute boy from break the fast. His dating tactics were more successful—two semesters later we were engaged.

By sheer coincidence, my fiancé moved into the apartment of the toe-painting guy after he had moved out for the summer. And what was still hanging on the wall? Yep, my toe-painted masterpieces. Needless to say, they were disposed of soon after.

Pop Goes the Question

By Deborah Cole Palmer (’00), Kingman, AZ

When Tyler invited me to go to a cabin for food, games, and a movie, I already had a boyfriend. But that boyfriend had encouraged me to go on this date, so I said yes. I had so much fun with Tyler at the cabin. During the movie, he flirted with me, and I worried he was waiting for me to reciprocate. I liked him and wanted to make sure he asked me out again, but what about my boyfriend? I stewed all night about how to explain my dilemma.

Finally, as the car pulled into my driveway, I exploded: “I know you wanted to hold my hand or cuddle or something. But I have a boyfriend who always teases that I’ll run off and get married and jokes that he’d be okay with that. And I see qualities in you that I want in my husband, so I want to make sure you ask me out again. Okay?” He laughed and then asked, “So you’re asking me to marry you?” I rolled my eyes and sarcastically said, “Yeah, Tyler, will you marry me?” A long, awkward silence filled the car before he asked, “Do you want to say anything else embarrassing before I take you to your doorstep?” I thought I’d die, but I lived to marry him five months later. He’s quick to remind me of my not-so-smooth first date skills, but in my defense, I was right.

Seriously Weird, Adorably Nerdy

By Ashley Anstead Bair (BS ’06), Bangor, PA

I was a young freshman—just barely 17—when I started at BYU. I was living in off-campus housing, so my ward had a lot of returned missionaries in it. One of these fresh-off-his-mission guys asked me on a group date with his brother and another friend. He seemed a little nerdy, and his wardrobe consisted of a lot of old Scouting T-shirts, but I wasn’t skilled in the art of saying no.

We had just gotten ice cream and were walking back to the car when he asked me my age. He literally tripped on the sidewalk when I told him. Back at his brother’s house, we played a word-guessing game. When he gave the clue “Aliens made it!” his brother immediately shouted, “Duct tape!” and they erupted in laughter. I decided, for sure, this guy and his family were seriously weird. But I figured I was safe since he was obviously thrown off by my age.

I went away that summer for work, and he asked if he could email me. I made it clear we were just friends, and he readily agreed. And yet a full summer of emailing and a shopping trip or two to pick out some non-Scouting shirts later, I happily married my adorably nerdy best friend.

An illustration of a man and woman walking with ice cream cones. The man is the middle of tripping to the ground.
Illustration by Travis Foster

Footwear, Not Frisbee

By William D. Terry (BS ’85), Vallejo, CA

It was a beautiful summer evening in Provo, and my date and I were sitting together and stargazing on the grass of the hill across from the Heber J. Grant Building. When my date slipped off her sandals to enjoy the cool summer evening, I mischievously tossed one of them. The sandal took an errant trajectory and disappeared into a nearby clump of bushes.

After unsuccessfully attempting to locate her sandal in the darkness, I decided to aid the search by using the headlights of my car. A few minutes later it was facing down the hill with its headlights illuminating the bushes as we began to search.

Suddenly my date cried out, “Bill, your car!” I turned to see my car rolling down the hill and sprinted to stop it before it damaged university property or, more important, my pride.

Running alongside my car, I opened the door, jumped in, and applied the brakes, coming to a stop just as the front wheels dropped over the curb of the pedestrian path. With no further thought, I put the car into gear, drove onto and up the ramp, and calmly exited onto Campus Drive.

The drive back to my date’s apartment was a quiet one. I don’t remember if we ever found her sandal, but that first date was definitely our last.

From Crush to Crushed in Hours

By Bruce A. Colton (BS ’09), Garland, Texas

As a freshman living in Heritage Halls in 2003, I became friends with another freshman we’ll call Rachel, who, according to her best friend, had a big crush on me. One Friday morning, Rachel called to ask me out on a date that evening. I could hear the excitement in her voice, and I said yes.

Around 4 p.m. Rachel called again. She said that in the six hours since she had asked me out, she had driven to her nearby hometown for lunch, and when an old childhood friend surprised her by proposing, she had accepted. She still invited me to her apartment for dinner and a movie, but now as part of her “engagement party.” That was the weirdest first date I have ever been on.

Swirling Nausea

By Nancee Phillips Tegeder (BS ’99, JD ’04), Winchester, CA

An illustration of a man and a woman are at a movie theater eating popcorn. The woman looks as if she is about to vomit.
Illustration by Travis Foster

I didn’t have many dates during my undergrad college years, but when I returned from a mission and started law school, my dating life changed for the better. Or so I thought. A few months into the semester, a guy in my ward asked me out on a first date. He was nice and liked jazz music (I didn’t), but I decided to take a chance.

He took me to see A Beautiful Mind at the cheap movie theater. We were a little late and sat in the only seats remaining, on the front row. As the movie progressed, I realized that the proximity to the screen, the swirling scenes, and the flashing lights were beginning to make me nauseated. I figured if I just looked down, the feeling would pass. It didn’t. About 10 minutes before the end of the show, I could suppress it no longer. It was coming. I stood up and began to run out of the theater, but ended up vomiting in the theater hallway, where every single person would have to walk to exit the theater. I made my way to the bathroom and tried to clean myself up, only to find that there were no paper towels (only air dryers) and the toilet paper was flimsy and useless tissue paper–like squares.

After a long while, I finally braved leaving the bathroom and found my date, thank goodness, still waiting for me. He took me home so I could change my clothes and even let me hang out with his friends and him the rest of the evening. It was a fun date, but he did not ask me out again. It must have been our different tastes in music.

A Foolish Proposal

By Christina Hoffman Clark (BS ’09), Tucson, AZ

During my freshman year at BYU, a guy in one of my classes asked me out. I wasn’t interested, but I had a rule to go out with any guy once out of courtesy. The date was set for April 1, and he told me to dress nice.

What he didn’t tell me is that he was planning to take me to his mission reunion. Worse yet, he wanted me to pretend to be his fiancée for an April Fool’s Day joke! He gave me a fake engagement ring, and I figured I had to go along with it. But it got more awkward when he told me we were carpooling with some mission friends for the 40-minute drive to the reunion. They chatted in the front while my date tried repeatedly to get cuddly and hold my hand to prove the validity of our “engagement.”

But things really got uncomfortable at the reunion when he told everyone that we were engaged. After an evening of weird looks, the reunion ended with my date awkwardly announcing that our engagement was an April Fool’s joke. Nobody laughed, including me. But I did have a great time talking with his two cute mission friends on the drive home.

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