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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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Cover Story


Connect the Dates



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We were sitting around not studying biology one night when Brian, my roommate, bragged to me, “Last year I had three dates with three different women on one weekend.”

“So.”

“So that’s a lot.”

“No, it’s not. I could easily beat that,” I replied.

“No, you couldn’t,” he explained, “because I’m better than you at everything. That’s not going to change.”

“Bet me.”

“I don’t bet.”

“Ha! You know I can beat that,” I informed him. “Three? Three? You think that’s so incredible? There were three blind mice. There were Three Stooges. There are three noodles in your head. Get the picture?”

He shook his head. “You’re a freak.”

“Look,” I said, “you can divide the weekend into five dating opportunities.”

“How’s that?”

“You’ve got Friday vespers, right?”

“Right.”

“Then Sabbath School. That’s two. Are you following me?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Then Sabbath afternoon. You know, nature hikes, James Dobson films, uh . . .”

“Music concerts,” he suggested.

“Right, music concerts. That’s three. Still with me?”

Brian rolled his eyes. “Yes.”

“Friday vespers, Sabbath School, Sabbath afternoon . . . wait, I missed church. Church is three. Sabbath afternoon is four. And Saturday night is five. Five dating opportunities. Three is nothing. You missed at least two opportunities.”

“So why would you want five dates?”

“Because the guy with the most dates wins.” I shook my head. “Don’t you know anything?”

He laughed. “You think this can actually be done?”

“Of course.”

“So who are you gonna go out with?”

“Are you asking me to prove my theory?”

He smiled and pointed a finger at me. “Prove it.”

“I don’t need to prove anything.”

“You’re all talk, my friend. Talk talk talk talk.” Brian walked over to the study desk and opened his biology book.

“I don’t need to prove anything,” I repeated.

“Talk talk talk talk talk talk. Buc buc buc buc bu-caw!”

“What is this barnyard sound?” I asked.

“Buc buc buc buc bu-caw!” he screamed.

“You’re saying I’m a chicken.”

“Foghorn Leghorn himself.”

“Fine.”

My odyssey

That weekend I began the dating odyssey of a lifetime. Five dates was the goal.

On Friday night I went with Wendy to an outdoor bonfire sing-along something-or-other that the Student Association sponsored. Afterward there was an afterglow on a grassy knoll behind the guys’ dorm with guitars and starlight and nervous faculty members eyeballing couples.

Wendy didn’t go to the afterglow, complaining of a mild headache, so I sat next to Michelle. Already I had upped the number of dating opportunities to six. I was elated!

The next morning I got up and prepared for a long day of dating. I had the times and dates mapped out. Jill for Sabbath School, Carol for church, Diane for the sing-along in the chapel (any more singing, and I’d go hoarse), and finally Lisa, the best of them all. Lisa and I would attend a screening of Norway: Land of Enchantment (a thrill-free travelogue) and top off the evening with an A-league basketball game.

As I knotted my tie that morning, Brian provided play-by-play in an anxious sportscaster’s voice: “And he pulls the tie through confidently and tightens it up. He’s got a grueling day ahead of him, ladies and gentlemen, but he faces it with confidence.”

“You already used that word,” I said.

“What word?”

“Confidence.”

“Well, forget it then.”

Jill appeared for Sabbath School in a lime sherbet dress and a smile. We sat through Mission Spotlight cheerfully enough, but I made the mistake of telling her my mission. She seemed a little put off.

“So I’m already date number three for the weekend?” she asked.

“Yes. Pretty good, huh?”

Her lips twisted into a thin smile. “Interesting concept.”

I realized my mistake. Girls don’t like being treated like numbers. I’ll remember that, I thought.

After Sabbath School she gave me a firm handshake and wished me all the best on my dating odyssey.

Next, please

In the church foyer I found Diane. She was with Phil, and that gave me a moment’s pause. Who am I supposed to go out with for church? I searched my pockets for the list I had prepared for just such an emergency. Nothing turned up. Then I saw Brian halfway across the foyer, and I pushed my way past padded shoulders and caught his arm.

I whispered desperately, “Who am I supposed to be going to church with? Is it Diane?”

“No,” he grunted. “It’s Carol. Diane is this afternoon. Here’s your list. You left it on your dresser.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“You’ll never make it, you dimwit.”

“Thanks again.”

I found Carol wearing a white sailor suit. “You look great,” I said.

“Weren’t you with Jill at Sabbath School?” she asked.

“Let’s find a seat,” I urged. “I hate having to sit too far forward.”

Carol didn’t say much as the service began. I supposed that was the reverent thing to do. But she didn’t sing any of the hymns or attempt to hold the hymnal. Not such a reverent thing to do.

“Is anything wrong?” I asked during the offering.

She shook her head and smiled politely.

Shy, I thought. She’s just shy.

The sermon that day centered on the creation of man and woman—molded from clay in the image of God.

“An incredible honor,” I whispered to Carol.

She nodded.

After the service we walked into the crowd in the foyer and out into the brilliant sunshine. I stretched. “Isn’t it a great day?”

No response. I looked around, but Carol had disappeared. A couple of her friends walked by, glaring at me. Perhaps this isn’t the best of ideas, I thought.

I sat with Brian at lunch. “You could stop now,” Brian advised me. “You’ve already beat me. Two last night and two today.”

“And leave Diane and Lisa in a lurch?”

“I’d quit while you’re ahead,” he said.

“No,” I decided. “I’m not going to admit defeat just yet. Maybe the Sabbath School/church thing wasn’t such a great idea. Probably even a little irreverent.”

“That’s true.”

“But I don’t think this afternoon and tonight will clash so bad. Do you think?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know.”

I went back to the room and changed. I looked at the clock and groaned. Only 1:30, and already I felt tired.

Diane showed up dutifully at the appointed hour wearing glasses instead of her usual contacts. Her hair was lusterless and losing its curl.

“I hear you’re on some sort of dating marathon,” she said.

“You heard that?”

“It’s going around,” she said.

“Well, I thought I’d try something new.”

“Marvelous,” she said in a dry voice. “What number am I?”

“Are you ready to sing?” The director asked us all. We began the song.

Diane nudged me. “What number am I?”

“Oh,” I said, “we’re singing number 241.”

She smiled languidly and showed a great lack of enthusiasm during the ensuing 45-minute service. As we parted, she too wished me luck on my dating odyssey.

Not happily ever after

I hurried back to the dorm and fell on my bed. Brian shook me awake sometime later. I awoke with a nightmarish feeling that I had just had five consecutive dates and the weekend was not yet over.

“I had a horrible dream,” I mumbled to Brian.

“You have a phone call from Lisa,” he said.

“Lisa?” I asked, rubbing my eyes.

I crawled out of bed, pulled on a few ragged clothes, and stumbled down the stairs to the phone.

“Hello?” I croaked sleepily.

“So, what are you up to, five by now?” she asked bluntly, ignoring all courtesy.

“Five?” I asked.

“Five dates,” she said. “Two last night and three today.”

“Oh, you mean dates?”

“Look,” her voice grew frighteningly calm, “why don’t we take a rain check on tonight?”

“Tonight?”

“Yes, remember? Norway: Land of Enchantment.”

“What’s a rain check?” I asked.

“A polite way of canceling the date.”

“Now, why would you want to do that?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m not going to be a whistle-stop on your weekend party train.”

I laughed. “That’s a good one. I like that.”

“Thank you.”

“Are you really, really outrageously offended?” I asked.

“Yeah, I really, really am. You may think dating is artificial and dumb, and it is, for the most part. But you shouldn’t treat girls like numbers or trophies. You shouldn’t sail around like a Spanish conquistador planting flags on new territory.”

“I like that one too,” I said.

“Do you see what I’m talking about?” she asked.

“Yeah, I do.”

“Connect the dates is no good. Dating may be stupid, but you shouldn’t treat people like a joke.”

“Maybe another time?” I asked.

“Maybe, but don’t be a jerk.”

“OK, I promise.”

Upstairs, Brian was delighted. “She broke it off, didn’t she?” He laughed hysterically.

“Yes, she did.”

“You should have listened to the sermon today,” he said.

“About man being created in God’s image?” I plopped down on my bed.

“And women too.” He tossed a pillow at my head.

“So you’re saying I’m a jerk.”

“Maybe.”

“So maybe one day I’ll be as perfect as you.”

He leaped off his bed and squeezed me into a headlock. “You can try.”

“Leave me alone! I’m sleeping this weekend off.”

Man and woman in the image of God. Words from the sermon came back to me as I drifted off. Me created in the image of God. I’d sure failed in living up to that. My dates in the image of God. Boy, I hadn’t even seem them as individual people, much less beings created and loved.

The image of God . . . An incredible honor to live up to, I thought.

 

This story originally appeared in the September 24, 1988, issue of Insight. At that time Andy Demsky was communications coordinator for Adventist Health System/Eastern and Middle America in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. He’s now a writer and communications consultant living in Napa, California. His latest project is coauthoring Charlotte Stewart’s memoir, Little House in the Hollywood Hills.

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