Worst College Blind Date

Duke Chapel with courtyard

(Duke University Chapel, Durham North Carolina)

Soon the Betas invited me to an awards banquet at Chapel Hill on the University of North Carolina campus. I had returned to the freshmen baseball team and was back in center field. One of the Betas named Jay Murphy, an athletic junior and outstanding student, took a liking to me and showed up at my dorm. “Dan, I’m going to fix you up with a pretty freshman so you can know more about Duke Beta Theta Pi.”

“That conflicts with my last baseball game against North Carolina, which ends about a half hour after the banquet begins.”

“No problem, I’ll drive her to the dinner and you can meet her after the game.”

“Sounds like a plan. Give me the directions and I’ll meet you soon as I can.”

“Here’s the flyer giving the address and a map.”

“See you there. Jay. Thanks.” I took my blue suit with thin silver stripes, light blue tie, and white dress shirt to the game on a hanger in a suit bag with my black dress shoes, tee shirt. I took the Duke bus and walked with the team to the freshmen baseball field where I placed my suit bag in the dugout. We were assigned a practice field as the Varsity was playing on the North Carolina Field. Our team came out on all cylinders and routed North Carolina 10-0. After the game I replaced my cleats with dress shoes and walked from the field to the Beta dinner party. University of North Carolina had no showers for us as the bus was scheduled to return to Duke for our showers and lockers to change our clothes. I walked across the campus at Chapel Hill in my uniform expecting the Tar Heel students to razz me but they were courteous and gave me directions to the dinner at the Faculty Lounge. I arrived late.

The colonial white building with a steeple was capable of seating over a hundred guests. I knocked on the imposing double door and was greeted by a Beta in a formal dark suit. He recognized me and whispered, “Good, Dan. You finally made it. Your seat is to the right in the middle where your date is waiting. Hurry and join us.” I glanced around and saw the brothers, pledges, and guests seated during an award ceremony honoring Beta accomplishments for the year.

“Where is the bathroom?” I asked.

“Just to your right past that wall before the hallway” as he pointed. My date must have noticed a baseball player in a dirty uniform had arrived late—her escort! She had to know I could not have showered since there wasn’t a shower in the front bathroom. Quickly making my way to the bathroom and hearing a few chuckles from the crowd, I disappeared behind the wall separating the Faculty Lounge from the bathrooms and closet area. Washing the sweat and dust off my hands and face in the sink, I dressed in my suit, stuffed my uniform into my suit bag, along with my cleats, glove, and sliding pads, socks, jersey, and jock. Placing my clothes bag on a hook in the hallway, and wondering how I would survive this awkward entrance at a formal fraternity function, I entered the dining room.

Everyone seated had begun eating as I walked up to the dinner table. Jay, a tall, very handsome, dark-haired athlete on the Varsity swimming team with a magnetic personality, came by in his dark blue suit and showed me to my seat. I felt self-conscious in front of an empty plate next to my date. He introduced me to an obviously upset, but attractive debutante. However, she appeared cold as ice in her conservative formal black dress, white gloves, and shiny black high heels, smirking face, and a superior disinterested attitude. Her bouffant pushed her dark brown hair toward the ceiling in the direction of her raised nose. “Hello, my name is Dan Lavery. Sorry to be late but just finished playing a baseball game and got here as soon as I could.”

She did not look at me until she completed chewing her food and muttered, “Oh, someone mentioned it.” As she finished the reply she threw her other white gloved hand in the air in a manner that said my explanation was unnecessary. Another trait of this "Duke Bad Blind Date" syndrome.

I swallowed my pride and tried to break the iceberg floating at me, “I’m from sunny California. Where did you go to high school?”

“Philadelphia.”

“Have you decided your major yet?”

After an awkward silence while she put another piece of steak in her mouth and chewed, she replied, “No.” Her eyes never left her plate as she kept munching. Being focused on herself she now had fit most of the “worst date” requirements.

“I came here thinking I would be in the N.R.O.T.C. but changed my mind at the end of football practice.”

After another silence I said, “Have you gone to any other Beta functions?"

As she slowly and silently arose and left her chair looking away from the table with her nose in the air, she said, “I need to freshen up” ignoring my attempt to communicate.

I started in on the filet mignon, baked potatoes, and green beans, while sipping iced tea as I had not eaten since breakfast. When she returned, I arose, pulled her chair out for her, and carefully pushed it back. She remained silent while returning to the food.

Jay sauntered up, put his arm around my shoulder, “Did you win the game?”

“Yeah. Ten to nothing!”

“How did you do?”

“I made a few good catches, got a single, a walk, scored two runs, and an RBI.”

“Way to go. You’re going to be a star on the Varsity next year everybody says.”

“I hope so. I can’t wait ‘till Varsity tryouts.”

Jay stood there for a moment having tried to stimulate some interest in the mummy next to me. He winked at me with a smile and whispered a sigh. He whirled and returned to his seat in his rhythmic well-coordinated gait. She, of course, was oblivious in her own world.

The awards handed to fraternity members were to impress the prospective fraternity pledges and their dates. They mentioned the humanitarian and intellectual activities of prominent Duke Betas. The elegant function broke up about an hour later. My disinterested date turned to me. “Will you have Jay take me home now?”

“I’ll get him and be right back.”

Walking briskly around the large U shaped table arrangement to Jay, I said, “My date wants to get back to her dorm.”

“I’ll get the car with my date and be waiting for you outside in five.” Jay drove us back to Durham in his late sporty blue Pontiac and dropped her off with his date at the women’s campus.

I walked my date to the door of her East College freshman dorm while Jay took his date across the street to her upper class dormitory. “I hope you enjoyed the dinner,” I said trying to at least meet her eyes, but she was not in the mood to be human.

“Goodbye,” she said and disappeared into the womb of her dorm away from any threat from the outside world. I hustled back to Jay’s car, jumped into shotgun, and closed the door. Jay returned with a smile on his face.

“How did you like your date?”

“Are you kidding? She was so wrapped up in herself, she never made an attempt to know anything about me! She lacked the basic curiosity to communicate and showed her lack of experience and narrow-mindedness. A classic bad blind date.”

“She was a good-looking gal. You know the joke about Duke Coeds-they are either brilliant and ugly, or pretty and conceited-there’s no in-between.”

“I’m beginning to believe that. She may have had a bad day, but her beauty was not enough to hide her shallow side. I don’t know why, but it seems that I have never had a good blind date in my life.”

Duke University Campus 1958        

(Duke University campus)

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