Last weekend I went to church-sponsored conference for single adults between the ages of 18 and 30. We played mixer games, did relay races, watched Comedy Sports, went to workshops, had dance classes, speed dated, had a dance and went to church together on Sunday.
It has been a while since I've been around that many twentysomethings at once, and I was used to BYU where everyone is doing more or less the same thing. At the Portland conference, you couldn't just ask "What's your major?" because half the people there weren't in college. So you had to ask a sort of general question like "What do you do?" which produced a variety of answers that ranged from going to college to working at a post-college professional job to working for minimum wage to "nothing ... no really, I literally mean nothing" ( Let's just say I didn't ask for his number).
The one thing we did have in common was that we were single, which is why we were all being lumped together in the hope that some of us would finally find someone we liked better than being single who (and this is the important part that people tend to forget about when encouraging marriage) also liked us better than being single. Unfortunately the dating game is a team sport.
So of course instead of just enjoying socializing with people everyone was sizing each other up. Unattractive people were dismissed with disappointment, semi-attractive people were sized up with interest and very attractive people were eyed with deep suspicion as everyone wondered what major flaw they were hiding that explained why they weren't already taken. Experience dictates if you're a single girl and you see a hot guy under the age of 30 he's either gay or taken. If he's not ... well there must be some mistake. Like he's not actually supposed to be out of jail yet, or he's actually your long lost cousin.
Most of us didn't actually expect to meet our future spouse that weekend, but we had to be prepared to give a detailed report to those waiting anxiously at home to see if we had "met someone." (I met lots of people actually, but apparently it doesn't count if they're a girl.) When you're over 21, Mormon and single you can't just meet people of the opposite gender any more and think "Oh they seem nice" because it's guaranteed the moment you are away from them at least one person is going to breathlessly ask "Well? Are you guys going to get married?" when all you know so far is the person's name and where they're from. It's a lot of pressure. I would imagine it would be similar to a couple with fertility problems being greeted at the breakfast table each morning with "Well? Did you guys make a baby last night?" Give it some time people. Not everybody does the whole love-at-first-sight thing.
Plus, a lot of the people there were ... interesting. Like the guy who spent lunch up in a tree watching everyone eat. Or the girl who was whiter than I am who said she found out she has an ancestor who was black so she goes around telling everyone she's actually black. Her friend was the one who treated us like total hicks when we said we were from The Dalles. Well, that was pretty much how everyone from Portland reacted. But then she said, "Well, I guess you guys do have a BiMart, because I stopped at it once." Lance, with a perfectly straight face, said "Oh yeah, everyone hangs out at the BiMart. It's the place to be on Friday night." I'm pretty sure she believed him. So if anyone from Portland ever says they hear BiMart is a happening place you'll know why.
But I met some cool people too, and the dance and the workshops were fun, so I'm glad I went. It was better than hanging out at BiMart :)