Young single Mormons are heavily encouraged to date as often as they can in order to get married. This can make things…awkward.
One day I just couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to silence the critics concerned for my immortal soul and “put myself out there,” as my Mom is so fond of saying. I wouldn’t rely on relatives to set me up! I would find a girl by myself!
My ward was planning a trip to Bear Lake. I went. I was hoping to impress the girls with my suave sophistication. It would be perfect! I could get a girl, fall in love and STOP THE ENDLESS SETUPS. In the end, I went home with nothing but sadness and sunburns.
There were about thirty of us squatting on a sandbar on the beach. I judged my chances were pretty good to distinguish myself by doing something impressive and show the girls that I was, in the terms of the market, “marriage material.”
One of the counselors brought a bunch of kayaks to ride around in, and I decided this would be my first chance to shine. I would row out confidently and…well, actually, I don’t know. I’ve never heard any girl swoon over a man’s rowing abilities, but the sun was beating down and I wasn’t thinking clearly. Regardless I seized a kayak, knocking a weaker male out of the way, and headed out into the lake.
Almost immediately I realized there was something wrong. I knew where the boat should go, but the boat wasn’t going that way. I wound up going in circles, drifting farther and farther from shore. One of the kayaks with a happy boyfriend and girlfriend circled me, laughing cruelly.
Finally the Bishop realized something was wrong and paddled out to check on me.
Eventually my frantic paddling (or perhaps a current) pushed me towards the shore. I collapsed onto the beach, trying to hide my tears of happiness at being on solid ground again.
Phase One was a disaster. I decided to move on to Phase Two. The ward had set up a beach volleyball net in the shallow pool separated from the lake by a sandbar. I strode confidently into the water towards the net, tripping only once. Surely THIS, I reasoned, would get me a girl. I could show my physical prowess and they would flock to me like hummingbirds to a feeder.
Boy was I wrong. The opposing team hit the ball towards us, and….well….
The rest of the game was a similar tragedy of failure. There was the moment I tried to serve the ball and hit the Relief Society President in the head:
the moment I ran into the net and brought it down:
aaaand the instance where I dove for the ball in a moment of masculinity and missed, face planting in the mud.
I gave up on Phase Two. Being good at sports was clearly for losers. I was going to win the women by a combination of engineering genius and an amazing work ethic!
The water in the shallow pool was stagnant and warm, with the color and temperature of a giant sewage pit. I reasoned I could dig through the fifteen foot sandbar to the lake and get some circulation going. My incredible talent for terraforming as well as my physical prowess in digging it would cause women everywhere on the beach to come running like moths to a physically appealing flame.
Then a large monkey wrench got thrown into my plans, in the form of another member of the ward named Chans. Chans is one of the nicest, humblest, most impressive individuals I have ever met. He’s a great guy, but when you’re trying to get girls you DEFINITELY do not want him around, because, well…
His biceps are larger than my head.
Because Chans is a nice guy he came over and offered to help. No doubt he was concerned that this scrawny weakling that couldn’t even hit a volleyball was going to get himself killed by trying out a massive earthmoving project with nothing but a shovel. His concern quickly gave way to disgust with my original, piddling idea. I was thinking a trench about eighteen inches across-
Chans seized a shovel and began excavating. I brought up the rear.
Chans’s goal was to put one of the hated kayaks through the trench. My goal at that point was simply to keep up with Chans, who was throwing two or three shovels of sand for every shovel of my own.
And Chans wouldn’t quit. I was gasping for breath, sweat POURING down my face, dropping to my knees and begging for a rest, my heart beating so quickly it was pumping air, but Chans kept going like a Mormon Terminator.
The sandbar began to give way under our (Chans’s) onslaught. Slowly but surely our trench approached the beachfront. Members of the ward stopped their games to come stand in awe.
By this point I was ghost of my former self. I was taking frequent water breaks, and when I wasn’t gulping water my “help” consisted of sitting down in the center of the trench weeping softly as my muscles seized up.
The trench was eventually completed, and it was, in fact, big enough for a kayak to go through.
Chans was lauded as an engineering genius. The single women flocked to his side enthusiastically.
No one even noticed me as I collapsed into a chair, whimpering at my sunburn. My plans had failed. I was no closer to getting a girl than I was before. My spirit was broken. I went home shortly after that, defeat ringing in my ears; another six or seven relatives calling me with more girls they wanted to set me up with.
I’m still in that ward. And I’m still single.
If I’m single when I die, I’m laying the blame on Chans.