My husband likes to tease me about being elusive. He would work up the nerve to come over and talk to me, and I would get a phone call. He would get excited because someone was finally giving us a proper introduction, and I would smile and go chasing after my nieces. Then he found out I was in Brazil and shrugged his shoulders. So much for that.
In some stories, that would have been the end and it might have been in this story as well, except for this one conversation my dad and I had several years before.
I had always joked that I trusted my dad enough I would totally let him pick a husband for me. Even when I was a teenager, we’d laugh about it. Now, I know that sounds crazy, but I really did have a very, very wise father. One I did trust explicitly. Obviously. So even though it was a joke, I was kind of serious too. And then one day he gave me a letter. In it, he formally asked for the right to help choose my husband.
Since I didn’t have anyone begging to date me, and since I really did totally trust my dad, and since I really was constantly traveling here and there (probably making it hard for guys to remember my name, let alone decide if they wanted to take me out for coffee), I told him that I was perfectly fine with that. We didn’t have any set idea of what that would look like—just that I wouldn’t be dating anyone without discussing it with my father and that if he felt led to set up something, he was free to do so.
Now, this might all sound ridiculous to some people. I was not a high school student anymore. I had traveled round-about the world, completely on my own. My father wasn’t the controlling type, at all. But the real reason I decided to go for this idea was because of a theory.
Yes, a theory. I have theories on dozens of things… Why I think the Bible tells us some things and not others. Why I think children listen better to people with low voices instead of high. Why kids always nap for me but won’t for their parents. Why some girls pick up boys left and right, and others can’t seem to get a date.
The theory in question was, of course, the latter. I called it my “stuck in the elevator theory”.
See, my theory is that there are three types of women in the world.
The first is the “instantly-attractive” girl. And I don’t mean just in looks. There are women out there who have instantly attractive personalities. If there is a group of people standing around, the instantly attractive woman is the one that everyone looks at. She’s usually fun and quick-witted, though not always. I would say the majority of these women are outgoing and have really big smiles. They usually can date whoever they want, but even if they don’t, they are constantly dealing with boys in some manner or another—even if it is just a whole slew of guy friends. These girls never lack for invitations to things, possibly because they’re usually the ones throwing the party. When it comes to dating, her struggle is that usually the guy she really wants will hang back because he thinks she’s not interested or because he’s not sure about competing for her attention.
The second type of woman is the “second-look” girl. Boys might overlook her the first time around, especially if an instantly-attractive girl is present, but the next time he looks, there she is. These girls usually have the most marriage proposals, and when a guy asks her out, he’s pretty serious about it. Probably he met her a couple times and then couldn’t get her out of his mind. He’s not even sure what happened, really, but she’s overwhelmingly attractive all the sudden and he really can’t believe he didn’t fall in love with her the first time he laid eyes on her. Of course, he’ll only get a chance if she happened to make it to adulthood without a childhood sweetheart wringing a promise out of her, as that happens a lot with these women.
And then there is the third type. I call these dear ones, “stuck-in-an-elevator” girls. They aren’t instantly attractive. Not that they aren’t super pretty—many are! But they don’t usually catch a guy’s attention right away. They don’t tend to flirt, they won’t compete for attention in a group setting, and they are incredibly self-sufficient and low-maintenance, so guys can be friends with them for years without ever even thinking about them.
But if you were going to get stuck in an elevator for 5 hours, this is the girl you’d want with you. She won’t complain, she’ll be helpful and sweet, and you’ll be surprised to find out that she can actually carry an interesting conversation when there aren’t other people distracting from her. And somewhere, in the course of that long uninterrupted time with her, you’ll realize that she is fascinating and her good-natured humor will keep you laughing. And probably, if you aren’t otherwise engaged, you’ll start thinking that a lifetime like this would be pretty stinking amazing.
Obviously, I was a stuck in the elevator woman. I could give you a list of guys who were friends and would sit around my house and eat my food, or invite me to come be the fourth person in a card game, but every single one of them would also sit right across from me and complain TO ME that there weren’t any available women around. And no, that’s not just an illustration. Actually happened. More than once. Oy!
Of course, if that ever happened with the other two types of women, they would laugh and point out the man’s vital mistake with a witty response of some kind. Then the guy would stutter all over himself trying to dig out of that hole, and later when he was alone, he would sit there thinking about the fact that, oh! She IS right there.
But a stuck-in-an-elevator woman? She’d just look at him and nod her head. “You’re so right,” she’d say. “Tough luck.”
So, yeah. We know what I did every time… consoled and commiserated with loads of near-sighted boys, who couldn’t see past their own feet. The poor things.
Since my mission work tended to keep me traveling where there wasn’t running water or electricity, let alone guys my age who might get stuck in an elevator with me so they could learn that it would be a blast-and-a-half to spend our lives together, I decided there wasn’t much harm in letting my dad take part in the finding-someone-worth-my-time process. But, to be honest, I didn’t have a clue what that might look like.
What it really ended up looking like was this: after my brother pestered my dad for months about the idea that maybe I could marry his farmer/mechanic friend, my dad decided to go visit the man. (After, apparently, a little sleuthing, in which he found out that everyone and their aunt’s cousin’s uncle thought the world of him, just like my brother insisted.) My dad showed up at his farm with a whole lot of nervousness and one of those ridiculous missionary prayer cards, with a picture of his only daughter on it.
The best part of this story I didn’t even find out until after the wedding. I think maybe my husband was a bit scared that if he told, I would pick the later wedding date of the two available, just to get back at him.
It turns out that the day my father stopped to talk to this potential-husband, said potential-husband was supposed to meet a friend. He was on the phone, headed out the door, when my dad pulled in the drive. “Huh,” he told his friend, “Brian Siegrist is here.”
“What does he want?” the friend asked.
“Not sure. Hopefully he’s here to tell me I can marry his daughter.”
The two laughed and hung up.
My dad came in, sat down, chitchatted for a while, and then pushed the prayer card across the table. He explained a little bit about what I was doing in life, then said, “If you’re interested in getting to know my daughter, you have my blessing.”
Potential-husband called his friend later as he left, to let him know he was coming. “What did Brian want?” the friend questioned.
“To let me know that I had his blessing to get to know his daughter.”
While my father had given Mr. Potential-Husband the go-ahead to get to know me, he made it clear that any relationship was completely up to me. If I was game, then it was an option. If I wasn’t interested, so be it.
However, he would give him one little boost: he would introduce us in a clear enough way that I wouldn’t be able to forget the guy’s name… again.
So my dad set me up on a blind date. Like, a REALLY blind date. As in, I didn’t know it was a date until two minutes before Mr. Potential-Husband arrived. Oy!