Friday, November 14, 2008

the date that almost wasn’t

As many of you know, Somebody and I met at work. When I hired him. Because he was so good looking. Just kidding. Our courtship was short one but is a story that I haven’t really told. It began with a date that almost wasn’t.

When I was working at The BYU I coordinated many summer programs and also professional conferences. One of the professional conferences I was assigned to was a two-week conference where all of the 20 participants were coming from mainland China to study how to teach art education at the college level. They would take classes from BYU professors (mostly from the Dance Dept, English Dept, and Education Dept) during the day and then I made arrangements for them to attend cultural events (like dance, music, and stage performances) in the evening. My toughest assignment when making all the arrangements was securing native Mandarin Chinese speakers to serve as interpreters (none of the conference participant spoke English). The director of the program was adamant that the interpreters be native speakers and not just Mandarin-speaking-American returned missionaries. I finally located someone in the Chinese Department who could hook me up with some experienced interpreters and I was all set.

I remember the first week of the conference passed by in kind of a blur, and during that time I thought of Somebody only as “the interpreter.” Although, admittedly, by the end of the week he was more like, “the really good interpreter” and sometimes “the cute interpreter.” But, alas, “interpreter” nonetheless. (Actually, at the time I called him “the translator” but was later informed about the difference between the two words and so have chosen to use the correct word in this story.)

The Friday of the first week I took a “friend who also is a boy but maybe could be something more but right now just a friend and probably will always be just a friend but you never know” to the evening performance. Somebody was on interpreter duty that night and was sitting right next to us. He (or, if his version of the story is to be believed, one of the conference participants) clearly thought something was going on between me and my friend, but I didn’t hear about that until later.

Saturday I stayed home (hello, I totally deserved the day off) and Somebody and another interpreter went with the conference participants up to Park City to shop. They were also supposed to tour the Olympic Park, but let’s all be realistic about what they really wanted to do. The details of what was going on up there are fuzzy to me, but I remember having several phone calls with Somebody as he tried to corral the frenzied shoppers. I may have laughed at him. And I may have wished I was there with them (him).

Sunday I joined the group for a tour of Temple Square, a viewing of Legacy (with interpreter headsets), and dinner at a Chinese restaurant in SLC. The restaurant was a buffet and, besides playing the happy birthday song repeatedly, was one of the better buffets I’ve been to. One of their signature items was tiny little squids. Each one looked like a miniature—about an inch and a half tall—octopus with the round body and many tentacles. Delish. I’m still not sure exactly how it worked out that I was going to eat one, but somehow my willingness to eat one of these became an event that everyone had to watch. I raised the spoon to my mouth, almost put it back down, and then popped the whole thing in. After a few chews, and a half-hearted smile, everyone cheered and went back to eating their own food. After a few more chews my smile was less noticeable. Several chews later I was wondering how I could get this yuck out of my mouth. And I might have, if Somebody hadn’t been watching me. So I kept on chewing. And kept on. And kept on. This was my first experience with the Chinese food eating experience of “this will never feel like it is chewed enough, so after a respectable period of time you should just swallow.” No one had warned me about this. Finally I think Somebody said, “you can probably swallow it now.” And so I did. And there was no vomiting. What did happen, though, and I only know this because Somebody told me later, was that he, for the first time, took notice of me.

On Monday, Somebody came up to me during one of our lunches and asked if the boy who came with me on Friday was my boyfriend. “You know,” he said, “because one of the participants wants to know.” Oh, they did, did they? Riiiiiight. I said that he was just a friend and went about my merry way. Later that day I said to my office friends, “I think the cute interpreter likes me” and relayed the incident to them. “Of course he likes you,” they assured me. “Who wouldn’t?” Everyone should have friends like that.

Well, one thing led to another. Tuesday was Valentine’s Day and Somebody showed up to interpret first thing that morning and said to me, “I thought about bringing you a flower today for Valentine’s Day. But I didn’t.” Um, thanks? The director, who was standing nearby, pulled me out of the room to tell me that she thought he was flirting with me. And that I was flirting back! What the?

One of the days during that week he was interpreting for a modern dance teacher who decided to have the partipants do a little interpretive dancing. She was talking about how you can use movement to convey emotion or your memory of an experience. She did a little demonstration and then turned to Somebody. “Why don’t you show them?” she said. “Please do interpretive movement to show ‘mother’” (at least I think it was mother. That part is vague to me.) And he did! He paused for just a moment to stare at her, as if that really could not be a legitimate assignment, and then just did it. He just moved. Like it was no big deal to have to give an interpretive dance example. Although the thing in the room most moved at that moment was me. I don’t know that I have even been as impressed as I was at that moment.

Friday night was the final shebang of the conference and Somebody was not scheduled to attend (another interpreter was scheduled.) I was starting to be a little sad about that and wished that he could be there and so early Thursday morning I called and left a message on his phone asking if he would be willing to attend so that I would have a friend there. He called back and left a message that said, “Yeah, I guess I can go…because you say you need a friend there.” Almost three years later I still have that message saved on my phone because every time I hear it I remember how happy I was the first time I listened to it. I sat on the floor in the Conference Center and listened to it over and over and over.

Friday night we drove up to the dinner and dance performance separately from the rest of the group. Somebody was actually asked to do most of the interpreting (Honey, did I pay you for that? I totally did, right? I did.) because, well, obviously he was the best. And then during the dance performance there might have been some leaning. And then, on the way home, when we were on University, going past the mall, heading down the hill toward campus (basically, when the evening was five minutes from being over) he turned to me and said, “Would you like to go out to the movies with me tomorrow?”

To be continued…


Janssen said...

This story makes me just giggle with glee.

Also, you began with calling it The BYU. Which makes it the best story ever.

"Cause it looked like he was . . . leaning."

Stephanie said...

More! More! It is fun hearing the details of how you met!

Allison said...

Well, this is certainly a much more interesting version than "I hired him to interpret at a conference" and leaving the rest up to the listener's imagination. It's all in the details....

I can't wait for part 2!

sarah said...

I don't think I've ever heard the whole story!! I just remember when you called me, probably a few weeks later and were like, "Hey. I'm kind of dating someone. From Taiwan," and I was beyond happy for you. And still am. :)

Stacy said...

i can't wait to hear the rest!

Stacy said...

I remember running into you on the way to or from one of my orchestra rehearsals in the HVAC, it was early 2006 - you were with a bunch of Chinese people...was that the same conference?

Lauralee, Dean and Camden said...

such a cute story, I love it! I've never hear this story before! Dean and I have eatin at that same place and he got the little squids too but he actually loved them. Me on the other hand, I wouldn't even try them!

Megan said...

I am in total agreement with Allison. I think I've heard that same "hired him" version 100 times.
Whata sweet story. Cannot wait for part duex!

Karla said...

I was laughing so hard at the squid part and Ili wanted to know what was so funny. After explaining to her, we both had a good laugh.
Why would he notice you after you ate a squid?
It reminds me of a super funny guy that lives around the corner from us and he said that when he went on a group date, a certain girl burped he was all of a sudden interested in getting to know her better.

Miss L said...

Not to put any pressure or anything, but, um...I'm still waiting for part 2 because I TOTALLY loved part 1. I love that you still have that message on your phone!!!! Makes my heart happy. :)