An embarrassing personal story involving BYU football

True story. I know. It happened to me.

In the fall of 1974, I had returned to BYU after spending two years in Central America on my mission. I quickly started dating someone whom I had dated in high school and during my freshman year at BYU as well. After several weeks, I proposed to her (which she accepted) — and then after a few weeks decide that I wasn’t ready to be engaged. She and I had been talking about marriage since high school, but I wanted to be sure I was marrying her because I was ready and willing to be married. I wanted to date around to be sure that she was my choice for marriage, not just a habit.  So I ended the engagement, though I was sure we would ended up getting married (which we did, about a year later).

Anyway, this was still in the fall of 1974. A day or two after the breakup, I get a phone call from another girl — Chris — whom I had also dated my freshman year at BYU, and who had written me from time to time when I was on my mission. (I was very careful not to leave a “waiting” girlfriend behind when I left on my mission, which had the unforeseen — but welcome — effect of having about five different girls write me.) Anyway, Chris has two tickets for that Saturday’s game, which I believe was against Arizona State and which was being telecast regionally (including in Provo). I’m not sure Chris knew about my engagement or its abrupt end (though knowing Chris, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did); as far as I knew, she was just asking me out to the game, and since the whole reason I had ended the engagement was to ‘date around’, I accept.

OK, so we get together and head to the stadium. Chris is giving off the “It’s sure great to see you after two years!” vibes, linking her arm through mine. We get to the game, it starts, and the other team (ASU) takes the lead and holds it for some time. Then BYU starts getting some points. Each time BYU scores, we jump up and yell, and Chris turns to me with that “Let’s hug each other!” vibe (ok, boys and girls, you know what I mean). I ignore it after the first BYU touchdown — hey, I was just engaged a few days earlier — and even after the second BYU touchdown. But on the third BYU touchdown — when BYU takes the lead in the ballgame, and the whole stadium goes crazy — I figure, “Hey, why not?” And so I turn and give Chris a big bear hug, which she enthusiastically returns.

Unbeknownst to me, the network TV camera is at that very moment panning across the screaming BYU fans. It then stops and zooms in on — Chris and me enthusiastically hugging each other. It apparently holds there long enough, and zoomed in enough, so that everyone at BYU who knows me and who is watching the game on TV clearly recognizes (a) that it’s me, (b) that the girl I’m hugging is not my fiancee (or ex-fiancee, but nobody knows that yet, or almost nobody.), and (c) we appear to be enjoying the hugging (which, frankly, we were).

I remain clueless about this televised exposure until I get a call from someone that evening after the game (I honestly don’t remember who), telling me that my ex-fiancee was watching the game with several friends and was, well, we shall say, not amused. My first thought is: “Uh-oh.” (Actually, my first thought may have been a bit more profane than that, though probably not out loud.)

Yep, the next morning, at my BYU ward, before meetings even start, a girl I know comes up to me and says, “Bruce, it’s funny — I was watching the BYU game on TV yesterday, and at one point they zoomed in the crowd, and I saw someone who looked just like you — but the girl he was hugging didn’t look like your fiancee.” I smiled (sort of) and said, “Yes, well, that was me, and no, that wasn’t my fiancee, but we actually broke off our engagement earlier this week.” She said, “Oh!” and smiled at me in a way that clearly said, “You pathetic scum — you broke off your engagement a few days ago and you’re already hugging other girls?” and then walked off.

This scene was repeated quite a few times that day and in the next several days that followed.

The real irony is that I’m pretty sure that Chris and I didn’t go out a second time.

I’m sure there’s some great lesson in here somewhere, but I think it boils down to, if you’re breaking off an engagement, let everyone know and wait for at least a few weeks before going out with anyone else. Not a great life’s lesson, except possibly for me (since I have been engaged roughly five times in my entire life). But there you have it.  ..bruce..

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