Over the last four Common Threads we've explored Love in a very idealized and romanticized way. We've shared stories about First Kisses, Chance Encounters, Romantic Gestures and how the Pursuit of Love has impacted the course of our lives. Today I want to explore that theme one last time by talking about the efforts we’ve made to make a Good Impression. Maybe your efforts were outlandish or maybe they were simple—either way, your story is interesting and we’d love to hear it…
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If you’ve been following Common Threads, you might have the impression that I was something of a romantic in my younger years. But you really have no idea. If there’s a movie that best captures the essence of who I was and how I saw the world, it’s Dead Poets Society. I was chivalrous, poetic, dramatic, romantic, idealistic, and I saw Love as the greatest, most noble, quest of all. I was 2 parts Don Quixote, 1 part Don Juan. And in my sophomore year at BYU, I had a plan…
It was really more of an experiment—an experiment of Love. I had been raised on a steady diet of romanticized movies: from The Princess Bride to Cyrano de Bergerac. And it’s this latter film, Cyrano de Bergerac, which caused me to wonder if it were possible to “woo” a woman through words alone. If you’re not familiar with the film, it’s the French film (and classic story) that “Roxanne” is based off of. Cyrano is a man who is very self-conscious about his large nose and, thinking that the woman he falls for will be turned off by his looks, sets out to woo her using his words (but having them spoken by a more handsome proxy). Great story.
So my sophomore year, I resolved that if the right opportunity should present itself, I would put the Cyrano de Bergerac experiment to the test.
The Girl at the Rink
Well my opportunity came one night as I was ice-skating with some friends at a public outdoor rink. There was a girl there that absolutely mesmerized me—she looked like Aubrey Hepburn (the woman in the image at the top of the page, in case that name isn't familiar). We had shared glances from afar, but I never approached her because she was always with other guys. Not entirely by coincidence, our two groups ended up leaving at the same time. Hoping for some miracle, I held the door for her group and, just as she was walking past me (with a look on her face that said “you should’ve made a move”), one of her friends thought he recognized me! I couldn’t believe my luck! I had never met him before, but it gave me just enough time to learn the girl’s first name (Lori) and the apartment complex where they all lived (The Riviera).
Too many coincidences, and too many sparks, happened that night and I couldn’t leave it alone. I knew I had to do something. That’s when I remembered my Cyrano experiment. Could it actually work? Well, if there was the slightest possibility it COULD work, Lori was worth taking the chance.
Now, quick note: some of the things I’m about to tell you will sound kind of “stalker”-ish. But let me assure you that great pains were taken to NOT have this be weird, creepy or anything remotely resembling a “stalker”...
Setting the Stage
My first task was to actually find Lori (or rather, her best friend as I’ll explain later). There was no Facebook 20 years ago, and a student directory wasn’t helpful because I didn’t know her last name. However, I did know the name of the apartment complex so it narrowed my search to about 150 doors.
Now, one of the benefits of BYU is that almost everyone is Mormon and every student belonged to a local congregation (called a Ward). If I could just find out which Ward she belonged to, not only would I find her, but I would ALSO be able to enlist the help of her trusted friends.
It took some time, but I found the apartment of one of her Ward leaders (a fellow female student). I introduced myself, told her the whole story of what I wanted to do—and, once she agreed that everything was kosher—she called Lori’s best friend, Amy, over to meet me. Once Amy arrived, I detailed my plan to her and gave her my phone number (in case Lori wanted to call it off for whatever reason). She was very cautious at first, but I won her over.
With Amy’s approval, I handed her an envelope titled “For Lori”—containing a whimsical and poetic introduction—and asked Amy to place it on her bed. She did, and the game was on.
Becoming Arthur Prescott
Since anonymity was crucial for this experiment, I couldn’t use my real name—so I created an alias, “Arthur Prescott”. Beginning with the introductory letter, “Arthur” would go on to leave periodic notes, puzzles and small fun gifts for Lori.
Wanting to be sure my actions were well received (and not creepy), I stayed in regular contact with Amy (my “inside man”). She confirmed that Lori was having a lot of fun and was always looking forward to her next surprise from “Arthur Prescott”. Amy proved to be a valuable ally.
The “Arthur” experiment lasted about a month… and while Lori was enjoying it, Amy reported that she was getting very anxious to finally meet “Arthur”. It’s probably best it didn’t go on much longer because I was running out of ideas—and I was feeling pressure to outdo myself with each new surprise.
So, for Arthur’s swan song, I recruited four of my friends who were in an acapella singing group. I asked them to go over to Lori’s apartment, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, to serenade her and her roommates. At the end of their last song, I walked into the apartment with a simple and elegant arrangement of flowers…
The experiment worked. In fact, it actually worked too well. Sparks flew immediately and we jumped (very prematurely) into a relationship. It didn’t take too long to realize that our entire relationship was built solely on passion and romance—and that it lacked a grounded friendship to keep it healthy. Our passionate “fling” lasted about a month and that was it.
While the Cyrano experiment had “worked” in the short run, it was ultimately a failure. In fact, for my next relationship, I swore off doing anything romantic (not even kissing) until a strong friendship had been established (yeah, I WAY over-corrected, much to the chagrin of my next girlfriend).
In every Common Thread, I like to take a moment to highlight people who I think are valuable contributors in the community. I usually find these people by reading the stories they post in Common Threads and checking out their profiles and recent activity. Today, however, I want to do a special introduction of my very dear friend @lysiebird. She’s a fiery and talented redhead with great imagination, sassy wit and a special talent of somehow always upstaging everyone in a photograph. Perhaps the only creature she can’t upstage is her dog, Milo. Lysiebird is definitely someone worth following. Check out her introduction and say hi!
Now it’s your turn. The real purpose of Common Threads is to hear from you! I would love to hear the efforts you’ve taken to make a good impression on someone—and I think others would, too. So add your story in the comments! Or, if you prefer, blog your story separately and link back to this thread so we can find it! If you don’t want to share, then maybe you’ll take a moment to read other people’s stories and encourage them by upvoting the ones you like. Now, without further ado: