Dan nervously checked his appearance in the hall mirror and then knocked on the door of Elizabeth’s dorm apartment.
Inside the apartment, Elizabeth finished with her hair, stepped back to examine the effect, and told her roommate, “Well, it’ll just have to do, won’t it, because that’s Dan now. Will you get the door? Tell him I’ll be ready in a minute.”
A short time later, her roommate came back. “Wow! Where did you find him?”
“We are both on a stake Young Adult committee.”
“And you think he likes you?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth smiled, “I think he does.”
Subject: Lisa (Elizabeth)
Age: 13 years
Event: Discussion in the girl’s locker room of junior high school
“Lisa,” her friend Kara burst out excitedly, “I’ve talked to Ralph!”
“What did he say?” Lisa answered quickly, but then catching herself, she added cooly, “Not that I care.”
“He said that you said that he said that he didn’t like you, but he said that he didn’t say that.”
“He did so,” Lisa accused. “He told Mike who told Janice who told Shelley who told me.”
“He said that even if he did say it, which he didn’t, he was joking. He said that he does like you.”
“If he likes me,” Lisa asked, putting a fresh stick of gum in her mouth, “then why did he throw an eraser at me yesterday?”
“Silly,” Kara said knowingly, “that’s how boys show they like a girl.”
“It is?” Lisa asked.
“Sure. Larry Hill threw a water balloon at me last week, and I know he likes me.”
“How do you know?”
“Because his face gets red when he talks to me.”
“Oh,” Lisa considered. “I wonder if Ralph’s face would get red if I talked with him.”
“I hope I’m not too late,” Elizabeth said as she greeted Dan in the dorm living room.
“The way you look tonight,” Dan said, standing up to greet her, “I’d wait a long time just to catch a glimpse.” They walked to his car. “Have you ever heard of a restaurant called L’Epicure?”
“It’s several miles from here, but it’s nice. French cuisine. I’m afraid I picked up the taste for European cooking on my mission. Are you interested?”
“It sounds fun,” she answered. “It also sounds like you’re a connoisseur of good food.”
Age: 16 years
Event: First prom date
The dance was over. Dan carefully maneuvered his dad’s car out of the high school parking lot. “I thought we’d go out to eat,” he said suavely.
“Great!” his date said. “Where?”
“Of course, because of the prom, many places will be full.”
“How about the Pyrenes?” she suggested. “My parents go there.”
“I’m sure it’ll be full,” Dan answered quickly.
“Okay, how about the Bonanza?”
“That will be full.”
“McDonald’s?” the girl pleaded.
“Full,” Dan answered firmly. “But don’t worry. I know a place that’s never full.”
“What’s it called?” she asked suspiciously.
“Big Alice’s Truck Stop Diner and Reloading Emporium. You get all the hashbrowns you can eat.”
“Oh,” the girl said with disappointment.
The old diner seemed to be leaning into the wind along the nearly deserted section of old highway that had been abandoned with the construction of the interstate. Apparently a few truckers still went out of their way because two large semi-trucks were parked outside.
“My dad gave me ten dollars to take you out to dinner,” Dan said as they pulled to a stop in front of the place, “but, gosh, you could eat here for a week for ten dollars.”
Alice, a huge woman, stood behind the counter with her arms folded and argued politics with two truckers. Dan and his date moved quickly to the other end of the long row of stools along the counter and sat down. In a minute, Big Alice sauntered down to get their order. “Whataya want?”
“Two hamburgers with everything,” Dan said, “plenty of hashbrowns, and a couple of donuts for dessert.”
“Is it okay, what I ordered for you?” Dan asked his date. “My dad said that the guy is supposed to order. It’s etiquette.”
The two truckers and Big Alice continued their argument as she cooked their order.
“You can’t say that!” one trucker argued.
“Well, I’m saying it!” the other trucker roared. “The trouble with people today is that nobody wants to fight! Especially the kids today. They couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag!”
Suddenly the three looked down the long row of empty stools to Dan and his date.
Dan nervously smiled at them.
In a few minutes, Big Alice brought their food and then left.
The girl carefully examined the hamburger. “The meat’s all greasy,” she complained.
“That used to bother me, too, when I first started eating here,” Dan eagerly explained, “but I learned a little trick.” Grabbing some napkins, he picked up her hamburger patty and blotted it with the napkins. “There,” he said proudly, “how’s that?”
He eagerly ate, but she took a fork and only probed the food with it.
“Aren’t you even going to eat your hashbrowns?” he asked.
“They’re greasy, too.”
“Yeah, but they’re great with catsup.” He picked up the catsup bottle, and in his eagerness, dumped the entire contents on her plate. Some of it splashed on her formal.
“Whoops,” he said apologetically.
“Please,” she said, beginning to cry, “take me home.”
“Okay,” Dan agreed. “Why don’t you take a donut with you in case you get hungry on the way?”
As they drove to the restaurant, Dan turned on the radio for a minute to hear the score of the university football game. “Do you like football?” he asked.
“A little. I used to know a boy in high school who played. Were you on the football team in high school?”
“Yes,” he smiled, “for two days.”
Age: 16 years
Event: Football practice
“Report to my office when you’re dressed,” the coach growled to Dan in the locker room after the practice.
A short time later, Dan sheepishly stood in front of the coach’s desk.
“I’m dropping you from the team,” the coach rasped.
“Why? I take good care of my uniform. I keep all the training rules. Why drop me?”
“Because you can’t play football!” the coach said harshly.
“Did you go steady with your friend who played football?” Dan asked Elizabeth.
“No. At one time he said he was interested in me, but we never got along very well.”
Subject: Lisa (Elizabeth)
Age: 16 years
Event: A ride home with Larry Hill, local football hero
“Did you see Friday night’s game?” Larry asked as he helped her into the car.
“Oh, sure. You were wonderful!”
“I bet you have to practice hard to get so strong and fast. Just watching you run around the other team is so exciting.”
“Things have always come easy for me. ‘Natural talent’ is the way the paper describes it.”
“But you must train hard.” “No,” he answered, “training is for people who don’t have natural talent.”
“Are you going to play in the pros?” she asked.
“Oh, sure,” he answered confidently. “I’m going to be a legend in my own time. Someday you’ll see me on TV and you’ll tell people that you knew the great Larry Hill and that he gave you a ride home from a school pep assembly practice.”
“Okay,” she smiled, “I’ll do my part if you do yours.”
“It might be a nicer memory if you’d sit a little closer,” he suggested. Turning on his four-track stereo to mood music, he casually put his arm over her shoulder. “You know, Lisa, I was watching you tonight. I think I could really fall for you.”
She sat forward, leaving his arm dangling in the air. “Larry, do you know where I live? It’s on Fairmont.”
“Sure, I know.”
“Then where are you driving?” “I thought we could go up on the hill overlooking town and look at the moon … and talk.”
“You can see the moon really well from my house,” she suggested.
He looked at her suddenly with a puzzled expression. “You’re joking? You don’t want to go up there with me?”
“I’ve got to go home. My parents will be worrying.”
He angrily flipped off the music, made a U-turn in the middle of the block, and sped back toward her house. “I’ll tell you one thing, “he finally said, “there are not many girls in our school who’d turn down attention from me.”
“Really? Maybe I’ll be a legend in my own time, too.”
“You’re making fun of me, aren’t you?”
“Larry, you’ve got the whole world telling you how great you are. Isn’t that enough?”
“Why won’t you go up there with me and talk?”
“I’ll talk with you in our kitchen over popcorn. Why do you want to go there?”
“I might want to kiss you.”
“And parking up there has worked with other girls?”
“Look, who else ever pays any attention to you? I’m doing you a favor.”
“You sound so sorry for me,” she said. “Is a kiss from you such a prize?”
“Other girls think so,” he answered crisply.
“Suppose I just let them have my share.”
“But my cousin says that you are a good athlete,” Elizabeth said to Dan.
“I play racquetball. I’ve been state champion three times. Since I wasn’t cut out to be a football player, I substituted racquetball.”
As he opened the car door for her outside the restaurant, she gave him a broad smile.
“Elizabeth, you have the most beautiful smile.”
Age: 16 years
Event: First day at school with braces
“How did it go at school today?” her mother asked as Lisa came in the house.
“Awful!” she complained. “One boy called me Metal Mouth. Another boy asked if he could use my mouth as an antenna for his radio. Kara said that at least it wouldn’t cut down on my dating, since Larry has told everybody that I’m cold and conceited.” She threw her books on the couch and ran to her room.
The hostess showed Dan and Elizabeth to a table. Dan helped her be seated.
Age: 17 years
Event: Laurel-Priest dating workshop
“Okay,” the Laurel adviser coached Dan and a girl, “you’ve just entered the restaurant. Pretend that the card table is where the hostess wants you to sit. Show me how you sit down.”
Dan sat down while the girl remained standing.
“Cut,” the adviser said. “That’s not right.”
“What’s wrong?” Dan asked.
“What about your date?”
“Oh, yeah,” Dan agreed. “Hey, sit down; rest your feet,” he said, pointing to the empty chair.
“No,” the adviser corrected, “help her be seated.”
“She can sit down by herself. I’ve seen her do it hundreds of times.”
“You are a gentleman,” the adviser said.
Wearily he stood up. “If you ask me, gentlemen go to plenty of extra work.”
“Do it!” the adviser ordered. “How?”
“Pull the chair out so she can sit down and then slide the chair in closer to the table.”
“Not that much!” the girl cried as he pushed her into the edge of the table.
“Okay,” the weary adviser continued, “now we come to ordering.”
“Elizabeth, what would you like?”
“Everything looks good. Any suggestions?”
“May I suggest,” he said with a flourish, “La Suprême de Chapon Montmorency?”
Age: 17 years
Event: Laurel-Priest dating workshop
“Now that you’ve ordered,” the Laurel adviser continued, “it’s time for some pleasant conversation.”
“My sister had a nosebleed last night,” Dan said. “We must’ve packed a box of tissues before we got it stopped.”
“Cut!” the adviser shouted. Fighting to gain control, she quietly continued. “You don’t discuss that at a dinner table.”
“What am I supposed to say?” Dan asked.
“Find out more about her interests,” the adviser said.
“Elizabeth, what are you majoring in?”
Dan asked. “Computer science.”
“How did you ever decide on that?”
“To tell you the truth, I can’t remember. I know that I liked math in high school.”
Age: 17 years
Event: Another dateless Friday night
“Lisa, can I come in?” her mother asked just outside her door. Lisa opened the bedroom door for her mother.
“Are you all right? You spend so much time in here all alone. We worry about you.”
Lisa sat silently on the edge of her bed, and then suddenly blurted out, “Mom, am I so horrible? Other girls have dates. Why won’t anybody ask me out? What’s so terrible about me?”
“I think you’re terrific.”
“Oh, Mom, you’re supposed to think that. You’re my mother.”
Her mother sat down with her on the bed. “Lisa, did you know that boys develop slower in their interests in the opposite sex? In a while, some of the boys at church will get their heads out of a car engine, look around, and see what a beautiful woman you’re becoming.”
“Sure,” Lisa complained, “and then they’ll go on their missions, and I’ll wait for another two years.”
“Okay, you’ve got some time on your hands. Why not use it wisely? What talents and skills would you like to gain by the time you’re grown?”
Lisa thought for a minute and then said, “I want to learn to play the guitar.”
“Fine, you’ll have time.”
“I want to learn mathematics.”
“Good. That will please your father.”
“And I want to learn how to sew the way you do.”
“I want to run on the girl’s track team.”
“That’d be exciting,” her mother said, reaching out for Lisa’s hand. “You can do all those things and more while you wait for the boys to mature.”
“And what are you majoring in?” Elizabeth asked Dan.
Age: 18 years
Event: Discussion with his boss
“Dan, how long have you worked here?” his boss asked one day.
“It’s time we changed you from stocking shelves and taught you how to sell clothes. Come with me.” They walked up on the balcony and looked down at the activities on the first floor. “What do you think we sell here?”
“Men’s clothes,” Dan said.
“Oh no, we sell much more than that. Men come here because they need confidence to help them make a promotion in their company or to ask that special girl to marry them. We have the finest clothes in this city, and some of the most influential men in town shop here because they want the assurance that comes from quality tailoring.”
“I never really thought about that before,” Dan said, suddenly impressed with his boss.
“You’re from Minnesota?” Dan asked over salad. “Is that where you went to high school?”
Elizabeth nodded. “Just outside Minneapolis.”
“The great carefree happy days of high school,” Dan said with a laugh. “Was it that way for you?”
“No, often it was painful.”
Age: 17 years
Event: Discussion with Kara in art class
“The face you’re painting is so beautiful,” Lisa said, admiring Kara’s oil portrait.
“But she looks a little lonely to me,” Lisa remarked.
“Oh no, she’s not lonely at all. With her looks, she’s always got boys around her.”
“I suppose so,” Lisa replied. “Still, there’s something sad about her.”
“No, she’s happy, just like me.”
“Well, you certainly have boys around you; that’s for sure.”
“You could, too,” Kara suggested.
“Just be a little more like other girls. Being a genius in mathematics doesn’t help your chances.”
“I’m no genius. I just like it.”
“Sometimes it’s smart to play dumb around boys,” Kara advised.
“Somewhere there’s a boy who won’t be put down just because I have goals to improve.”
“Where is he?” Kara asked.
“I don’t know,” Lisa said glumly.
“He isn’t here in this school. Boys are afraid of you here.”
“I don’t know where he is.”
“Face it, he doesn’t exist. Boys have to be superior. That’s how I get along so well with Larry, our football hero. He needs me to feed his ego.”
“It isn’t honest to pretend that you’re not smart.”
“Maybe not, but it gets dates. There are plenty of girls who’d love to go out with the great Larry Hill. But he’s all mine.”
The class bell rang, and they put away their paintings.
“Kara, maybe you’re seeing too much of Larry.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Once I heard him talking about you with some other boys in the hall.”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got things under control. Say, let me ask Larry to get one of his friends to ask you out. There’s a party Friday night.”
Lisa thought for a moment and then said, “You know I’m a Mormon. Do you really think I’d fit in at one of your parties?”
“Do you always have to be so strict? Can’t you ever have any fun?”
“We have fun, Kara. It’s just a different kind of fun. Thanks for thinking of me, but I’d better not.”
They talked about high school over dessert.
“I never did feel very comfortable around girls,” Dan confided.
“And I was busy with my classes and other activities,” Elizabeth recalled, “but socially it was like I was watching my friends make bad choices. Eventually their choices caught up with them.”
Age: 17 years
Event: Second conversation with Kara
“You’ve finished your painting,” Lisa said, admiring the portrait of the girl. “It’s beautiful.”
“You were right about one thing,” Kara agonized. “She is sad and lonely.”
“She’s found out that she’s been used,” Kara said.
“What’s wrong, Kara?”
“Is he going to marry you?”
“Oh no, not him. He doesn’t want to be tied down,” she said bitterly. “He told me he feels responsible, and so he’ll pay for an abortion.”
“Kara, you won’t do that, will you?” Elizabeth pleaded.
“I don’t know what to do,” Kara said slowly. “Could we go somewhere and talk?”
They walked to a park near the high school and sat in the swings and talked.
“Lisa, do you remember when we were in grade school? We were such good friends, weren’t we? We were just like sisters. How have we gotten so far apart?”
“I still love you as if you were my sister,” Lisa said.
“I know, but now I’m so different from you. How have I come to the place I am now? I’ve thought about it lately.”
“What did you decide?” Lisa asked.
“The only thing that has separated us is that I’ve always done what others told me everyone else was doing, but you never did any of those things. Why didn’t you?”
“I’m a Mormon,” Lisa said simply, “and we have a prophet of God who gives us warning. I guess I’ve just listened to him.”
“I wish I could be like you, but now I feel so old. I’ll never be young again, and I’ve got a decision to make. What should I do?”
“Don’t let them kill your baby.”
“It’s not a baby yet, is it? It’s just a growth. How can you be so sure that it wouldn’t be better to just do it the way Larry wants? He calls it getting it fixed.”
“Our prophet’s warned us against abortion,” Lisa said. “Will you talk to my bishop? Maybe he can help you decide what to do.”
“Okay, I’ll talk with him.”
“Did your friends in high school learn from their bad choices?” Dan asked Elizabeth.
“I’m afraid not.”
Age: 20 years
Event: Meeting Kara at the airport
Elizabeth had taken the flight from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City on her return to college. She had walked slowly past the car rental agency three times, carefully studying the features of the attractive girl at the counter. Finally she approached the girl.
“Excuse me, are you Kara?”
“Lisa?” the girl cried. “Is that you?”
They threw their arms around each other, both chattering excitedly.
“What are you doing here?” Elizabeth asked.
“I was transferred from our L.A. office six months ago. Look, I’ve got a break coming. Let’s go get something to eat so we can talk.”
They sat at a small table and talked, filling each other in on their lives since they had last been together.
“I lost track of you after you left town,” Elizabeth said. “My bishop said you never talked with him.”
“Oh, I changed my mind and just had the problem fixed,” Kara said lightly.
“Oh,” Elizabeth said, trying not to betray her disappointment.
“I guess you’re shocked, but it’s quite common these days.”
“But why did you suddenly leave town after that?” Elizabeth asked.
“I had to get away,” Kara said, pursing her lips nervously, “and so I ran away.”
“But where did you live? What did you do?”
Kara shook her head slowly. “You don’t want to hear about that.” She took a final drag on her cigarette and exhaled slowly. “But look, I’m all squared away now. I’m into group therapy, and it’s really helped me get rid of all my guilt feelings about everything. What a relief not to feel guilty about anything! But I guess you know about that, because you’ve never done anything to feel guilty about.”
A few minutes later, Elizabeth asked, “What happened to Larry Hill?”
“Last I heard he was working as a DJ in a disco in California.”
“I guess that makes him one of the real men, doesn’t it?” Elizabeth said. “He always needed that assurance.”
“I’ve heard he’s still running around just like he did in high school,” Kara added. “I guess I am, too, for that matter. I’m just not ready to settle down.”
Dan paid the check and took Elizabeth’s arm as they left the restaurant. “Lisa, we can go to the movies like we planned, but there’s something else I’d rather do.”
“Take me to your computer,” he said with a metallic ring to his voice.
The remote computer terminal on campus looked more like a typewriter than a computer. Dan sat beside her as she turned it on.
“How do you address a computer?” he asked. “Hi, big fella?”
“That would work if it were programmed for that. For this one, a simple combination of numbers and letters will do.”
“Sounds sinister,” he said.
As she enthusiastically tried to teach him some computer games, he found himself just smiling, nodding his head, delighting in watching the features of her face.
“You really like this, don’t you?” he asked as they left the building.
“I really do. And your male ego isn’t threatened by a girl who enjoys computers?”
“No. Someday when I have a chain of stores all over the West, maybe I can get you to show me how to use a computer in business.”
“It’s a deal,” she answered. “Now, sir, it’s my turn. I want to learn how to play racquetball.”
“Now? The way we’re dressed?”
“Just show me where you play and explain the rules. Okay?”
Finding an empty court, they took off their shoes and entered the room. He explained the rules and strategy to her.
“Okay? I’ll serve.” Standing between the two painted lines in the room, he served an imaginary ball. In graceful slow motion, she returned his serve.
“Where’d it go?” he asked.
“It bounced off the wall an inch from the floor.”
“Wow!” he laughed. “Nice return.”
They played with the imaginary ball until they both collapsed side by side in laughter.
“Elizabeth, you know what?” Dan said while they were still sitting on the floor. “I feel terrific, just being with you. Everything is so natural. I don’t have to prove anything with you. I feel that I could tell you anything about my hopes and dreams, and even some of the dumb things I do, and you wouldn’t reject me.”
“I know. I feel the same way.”
“Let me tell you some deep secrets,” he said with a grin. “I love apples, and I use the ash tray of my car to store my apple cores.”
“I can take that,” she smiled. “Here’s one for you. About once a year I buy a can of pitted black olives, go in my room, put an olive on each finger, and pop them one by one in my mouth.”
“Here’s one,” he said. “Once I was asked not to sing in a youth conference chorus. You know, they always say we don’t care whether or not you can sing. Well, I volunteered and was told to just move my lips.”
“I know how to change the oil in a car,” she confessed.
“One of the most successful elders in our mission was Elder Reed. Once at a zone conference I got a chance to meet him. I really was excited. I walked up to him, stuck out my hand, and said, ‘Hi there, I’m Elder Reed.’ He looked at me strangely. I realized my mistake and then said, ‘No, wait. You’re Elder Reed.’ He looked at me like I was crazy and walked away.”
“I love to waltz,” she said.
“Teach me. Now.”
“Here?” she said, looking around at the empty racquetball court.
They waltzed in stocking feet to her songs and his regimental one, two, three, one, two, three.
On the way out, they decided to walk through the tunnel connecting the two buildings used for athletics.
“Have you ever heard the legend of this tunnel?” he kidded as they walked down the long hall.
“When a couple who are going to become very good friends walks down this hall, legend says they hear an echo.”
“Really?” she giggled.
“Dan and Elizabeth are falling in like!” he yelled. An echo returned his voice. “See that?” he asked. “It’s the legend of the tunnel.”
“Falling in like?” she asked.
“Sure, it’s one step before falling in love.”
They ambled down the long hall, holding hands, talking happily, the echoes of their voices, and their past, returning again and again back to them.