Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's Story Time

Remember how I have a wise-cracking history professor? Well, he told a story today that I just have to share with the blogosphere. This story will be particularly interesting to the BYU undergraduate/BYU graduate demographic who reads my blog (which, in all honesty, is about 98% of my blog readers).

My history professor came in today telling us he had a story. It didn't have anything to do with what we learned about in class, but rather it was a test-run for when he will teach American Heritage in a few years--he wanted to kind of test the waters with smaller crowd before he stands up in front of 800 freshmen. 

While my history professor was at BYU during the late 1980s, he had a roommate who had a very particular set of criteria for the woman he wanted to marry. The roommate had two points that were essential for his future wife: 

1. She had to be 5'9" or taller. He was 6'2" and of a medium-build, and he wanted superstar basketball-playing children. He figured the only way he'd get them was if he married a tall woman. 

2. He wanted a woman that was strong, independent, and career-driven. 

Around this time, there was a letter-to-the-editor published in the Daily Universe. The letter was extremely misogynistic and sexist. The author of the letter complained that there were "too many women" on campus, and that they were taking up spaces that should have gone to men, since men were the ones that should be getting higher education in order to prepare for careers, and that it wasn't worth it to educate women. 

(Quick note: I've looked everywhere for a copy of this letter, but my Google skills have proved in vain so far. However, I do know that I've read this letter-to-the-editor . . . freshmen writing professors often use it as an example of rhetoric gone wrong and as a prompt for students to respond back to and get angry/passionate about. The first time I read it I was a training to be a tutor at the Writing Center and we were learning about what to do if we have to tutor a student who has written an extremely offensive paper . . . yes, a letter like this definitely counts as extremely offensive. Anyway, I know that this letter is still widely circulated, and many people on campus have read it.)  

annnnnnnd, we're back. Anyway, a student had written this extremely offensive and sexist letter-to-the-editor. My history professor didn't know anything about it--I guess he hadn't read the Daily Universe that day, and this was before the social media heyday. Today, if someone wrote a letter like that, it would be all over people's Facebook pages and he would be torn apart. Back in 1989, there wasn't an option like that. 

But there were house phones, and you could call the BYU operator and get anyone's number. 

So one evening, my history professor was just sitting at home when the phone rang. He answered it, and a woman's voice asked, 

"Is so-and-so [my history professor's roommate] there?" 
History Professor: "Yeah, I'll go get him." 

Once his roommate was on the phone, my history professor could only hear his side of the conversation. It went something like this: 

"Hello? [complete silence for a minute or two] Yeah. Oh yes, that's a good point. You have a really good point. This is really important. You know, I'd love to talk more about this with you. Is there a time that would work for you to go to lunch sometime this week and we could discuss this more?" 

They'd set a date, and then end the conversation. 

My history professor was really confused, so his roommate explained to him that . . . 

He was the one who wrote the offensive letter-to-the-editor! 

And it wasn't really what he believed at all! It was--

1) A social satire 


2) A way to go on dates with the types of girls he was interested in! 

It was all a ploy! 

He wanted to meet strong-willed, driven, independent women, and this was his way of getting to meet the boldest-of-the-bold on BYU campus. He would take them to lunch, they'd talk, and then he'd be like, "You know, you've opened my eyes on this subject and I'd love to talk more with you sometime about this later. Could we meet again?" Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. 

But he did go out with about 10-15 of these women that called him. 

I was floored when I found out. I was laughing so hard. It's hilarious . . . and then unnerving at the same time. But I still can't get over the fact that this letter which is used to lambast narrow-minded thinkers was actually all a cunning, clever plan to meet women. I mean . . . wow. Just wow. Just--no words. 

So, there you have it. The true motives behind this letter-to-the-editor-fiasco.

By the way, since I know you're wondering, this guy did find a wife who was over 5'9" and who was smart, strong-willed, and career-driven. But it wasn't any of the women who called him. No, my history professor met a girl in his English class (which, by the way, is a good place to find determined women) who was 5'10" and who he thought would be a perfect match for his roommate. He set them up, they got married, and they have sons who are 6'6" and play basketball. 

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