Nighttime stories

xkcd” is one of my favorite web comics, and the strip today made me smile and wince at the same time:

True story: after my freshman year of college at BYU (1971-72), I served a full-time mission for the Church. Since I was going to Central America, I first had 8 weeks of intensive language training at what was then called the Language Training Mission (LTM), located mainly in buildings on the south part of the BYU campus. During those 8 weeks, I happen to notice this one sister missionary who is likewise in the LTM, learning Spanish in order to serve a mission down in South America. I never really get a chance to talk with her, but she’s kind of cute and (more importantly) looks intelligent. After the 8 weeks are up, I leave for Central America.

Fast forward two years. I’m now back at BYU, starting my sophomore year of college. One day, I happen to be going up the stairs in the Administration Building when I see the same young woman coming down the stairs. Now, due to differing age requirements and durations for men and women serving missions, I know she’s at least two years older than me and that she’s been back six months longer than I have, so I figure she’s (a) not interested and/or (b) already involved with someone. But to my surprise, she stops, looks at me, and says, “Don’t I know you from the LTM?” We chat briefly about our respective missions, and then I ask her out for that coming Friday. She accepts.

Friday night, I show up at her dorm (on-campus), and I think we see a movie and grab a bite to eat (also on-campus). We’ve had a nice time together, and I’m thinking this could turn into something. As we’re walking back across campus to her dorm and talking about various things, I make an off-handed reference to C. S. Lewis. And she says, “Who?” I repeat: “C. S. Lewis.” And she says, “I don’t know who that is.” It’s as though someone pulls a plug — I feel all my interest draining away.

I never ask her out again.

Sigh. I should have asked her out at least once more. Anyway, that’s why I laughed and winced when I read today’s strip; not one of my proudest moments in dating.

Extra irony with the strip: I actually met and slightly knew Orson Scott Card back then (though well after this particular incident). We were both undergraduates at BYU during overlapping periods, and one summer we both attended the same BYU student ward (LDS congregation), where he was the Elder’s Quorum instructor. He didn’t know me from Adam (so to speak), but I knew who he was because my friend Tina Fletcher had starred in the original production of his play “Stone Tables” while I was still on my mission and had sent me tapes and letters talking about it. ..bruce..

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