In 1995 I moved from Logan, UT to Bozeman, MT to attend graduate school. I didn't know anyone there and was grateful that I had the church to provide me with something familiar. The first week of church a long-haired guy was sitting on the stand - he was the ward clerk. After sacrament meeting, he quickly made a B-line to introduce himself. "Hi, I'm Eric" he said in a squeaky voice. I learned that he had also attended USU as an undergraduate and that he was the only other graduate student in our student ward.
Clearly, we were made for each other...
The next week Eric was put into the bishopric and he cut his hair (although his voice did not deepen). Every week he sat on the stand and smiled down at all the pretty girls. Eventually (after several weeks) I changed my opinion of Eric. It went from "hmm, what a strange guy" to "he is very nice and rather amusing."
Eric absolutely lived his life on his own terms. He was exceedingly friendly, completely embracing of his quirkiness, and 100% genuine. Here are some of his favorite pass times:
- he collected bird feathers and then decorated eggs with them and then sold the eggs
- he made hemp jewelry (you know the macramé kind?)
- he was a bird watcher and all around nature-lover
- he loved to make homemade bread - he insisted that you have to knead it by hand because "how else can you knead the love into it?"
At that very moment and without any planning, Eric and I decided to play a trick on our ward members. We decided to go ahead and let this girl (the RS prez) believe what she was thinking. We allowed her to think we were in a romance. Over the next several weeks we watched as our "secret" spread throughout the ward. We laughed (inside) as all eyes watched our every interaction. We helped our little prank along by "admitting" that "yes, we actually DID know each other back at USU and that our romance was the reason I applied to MSU for graduate school." (a TOTAL LIE)
During MSU's spring break we both headed to Utah (him to Orem to see his family and me to Logan to see my friends). We drove together and everyone assumed we spent the whole time together. During our drive we got to know funny, rare things about each other (because that is what you do on a road trip) and so when we got back we had ammunition to convince everyone that we really had known each other for years.
Eventually the whole thing was getting way out of hand. I needed a way out because it seemed Eric was enjoying this too much and maybe believing it a little. We staged a break up (remember that technically our "romance" was supposed to be a secret - the secret that EVERYONE was in on). Everyone was so upset. The day after our "break up" just happened to be April 1 and a Monday. We decided it was the perfect time to get "engaged" and then announce the whole thing as an April Fools joke.
We showed up to FHE together and everyone was thrilled. Then someone noticed the (fake) diamond on my finger and everyone was ecstatic! We answered their questions about how it all happened and what our plans were (we hadn't figured any of these answers out yet and so we were totally winging it). Finally after about an hour I announced: "APRIL FOOLS!"
They were stunned. Finally someone said, "but you are back together, right?" We said, "no, it was all a joke." Someone said, "so you didn't really break up?" We finally convinced them that we were never dating or romantically involved. The RS president was so sad and whispered, "but I've been praying for you."
Eric and I have had fun re-telling this story and when we told it to Phil (years ago), Eric said, "don't forget to tell him how I started to believe it, that's the funniest part."
Eric and I did end up going on a couple of dates. Perhaps those can be saved for future posts.