Creative Dates at BYU

Dating at Brigham Young University was not your typical “dinner and a movie” type thing. It was expected that you would come up with creative activities to do on dates. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Date #1:

Our apartment of six guys had a friendship with a nearby apartment of six girls. We did a lot of things together as well as for each other. My favorite memory, and a story I tell often, is the time that each girl in that apartment asked out a boy in our apartment for a big group date. We all first went to DI and each couple picked out an outfit for another couple, the wilder the better. This was the 80s, so there was lots of groovy 70s stuff available. After that, we all changed into the outfits that were chosen for us. Then we went as a big group to the bowling alley at the Wilkinson Center. It was a weekend night, so it was really crowded, and we made quite a stir dressed in our crazy clothes. Whenever I’m telling somebody about “creative dates”, I bring up that story.

Date #2:

At Halloween time, the local mental hospital just outside the BYU campus would put on a haunted house in this cool old cement castle on their property. The haunted house was super popular with long lines every year. It was actually somewhat unnerving, because we knew (or at least we were told) that the people inside running the haunted castle, jumping out at us with fake chainsaws, covered in blood, etc., were actually mental hospital patients. Supposedly, the most well-behaved ones, but there was always the chance that they weren’t diagnosed correctly. At least, that’s what we believed. 🙂

Anyways, somebody in our apartment found out that you could actually rent the castle on the mental hospital grounds for $50 a night. So, we planned a fun night of romance and terror. All six of us got dates, but I don’t think this was specifically with your girls’ apartment, so probably only some of you were there. We started out the night by playing Assassin, which is where we ran around the castle hallways with rubber band guns shooting each other. That might have been based on a game we saw in an 80’s movie?

After it got dark, we went inside one of the rooms in the spooky castle. We had brought the couches from our apartment along with our TV and VCR. We then watched the movie Psycho together! It was a special kind of freaky watching that movie on the mental hospital grounds in the castle where the haunted house happened every year.

That is one of my fond memories of creative dates that you would see at BYU. “Dinner and a movie” was so passe’. LOL

Wrestling Problems

(~1975 – Recorded 1/1/2019)

I loved wrestling when I was young. My dad and I used to wrestle all the time and I would wrestle with my friends. When I went to junior high, they had a wrestling team there. You had to be in 7th or 8th grade to be on the team, but in 6th grade they had an intramural team where you would have some practices and they would teach you the basics, and then at the end of the “season” there would be a tournament for all of the kids that participated at the school.

I enthusiastically joined the intramural program in 6th grade and went to all of the sessions. I loved learning the moves and improving my wrestling. When it came time for the tournament, my mom came to watch me wrestle.

During my first match, she about went crazy with worry for me, sure at any point I would be injured and possibly be paralyzed. 🙂 My coach happened to be sitting next to her and she told him how freaked out she was. He told her, “I totally understand. But know you are doing better than my mom did at my first match. She was watching me and got so nervous and upset that she actually peed her pants!”

(Note: I actually won that tournament in my weight class. I wrestled on the team in 7th grade and was #2 in my weight class. I ultimately decided not to continue wrestling in 8th grade. The pressure of doing an individual sport where everyone was looking at and judging only me during the match gave me too much anxiety. I played on team sports after that.)

The Very First Babysitter

(12/1991 – Recorded 1/1/2019)

Alyssa was born while I was attending Michigan State University. After she was born, we never hired a teenager to babysit, but instead much preferred to swap babysitting with other adult couples. Michelle was very nervous about leaving Aly with a teenage babysitter. There were about 7 families in our church that all had babies within about a 6 month period, so there were plenty of people to swap with.

Just after Aly turned one year old, we wanted to go out as a couple on a Friday night. I believe it might have been to a church party, so all the other couples were busy on that night as well, meaning that there were no adult babysitters available to babysit. Michelle and I had always said that we would not use a babysitter younger than 12  years old. However, earlier in that year Michelle and I had done housesitting + babysitting for a family in our church for about a week while the parents went out of town. They had a 12 year-old boy and 11 year-old girl and the girl just loved Aly. She played with Aly and loved to take care of her. When we needed a babysitter, we talked about it and decided that even though the girl was only 11 years old, we had seen her with Aly and she was really good with her and responsible. So, we decided to bend our rule a little bit and ask her to babysit. She excitedly said Yes.

On that night we went out and left Aly with her first babysitter. When we got home and walked in to the apartment, the TV was on with the volume turned way up, blaring our Raiders of the Lost Ark videotape. We asked how everything went and she said, “Great”. I took the babysitter home while Michelle turned off the TV and went into the bedroom to check on Aly.

When I got home, Michelle was in the family room holding Aly and was very upset. Aly had blood all over her! Michelle said that she went into Aly’s bedroom to check on her, but she wasn’t in the crib. She looked around the room and found her sleeping on the floor in the corner. She thought that was strange. She picked her up and saw that there was blood all over her face, hands, and clothes. Then she looked around the room and noticed that there were bloody handprints all around on the walls at about Aly-height, with a concentration of them on the back of the door. She inspected Aly and determined that the blood was coming from her nose and she had a big bump on the bridge of her nose. What was even more worrying was that Michelle couldn’t get Aly to wake up!

We decided to take her immediately to the hospital emergency room. We were able to wake her up by the time we got there. The doctor there cleaned her off and examined her. He determined that she was indeed bleeding from the nose, and it looked like she had been whacked on the bridge of the nose. We were confused about what happened. We didn’t think that the babysitter would hit Aly, but you never know for sure.

After waiting there for a while, we were told that the police wanted to talk to us! It didn’t take long to realize that they were interviewing us because the injury was consistent with child abuse. The bruise on her nose had circles on it that looked like they may have been caused by a Lego or Duplo block and they were suspicious that someone had hit her with one. We told them the whole story and they quickly believed us. Whew! They said they would have to talk to the babysitter. We told them we would talk to the family and let them know that the detectives would be talking to them, but they immediately said that we shouldn’t talk to the family about it at all until after the detectives had a chance to talk to them. We asked them when they would talk to them and they said, “Well, it is Friday night now, so they’ll be talking to them on Monday”. This was very awkward because we would see them at church on Sunday and we had to pretend like nothing was wrong.

On Monday, the mother of the babysitter called us up and apologized profusely. She said that she talked to her daughter, but she claimed to not have heard anything and not know anything about it. However, the mom wasn’t convinced. She told us a story about her son who was one year older. He had recently gone on his first babysitting job. Before they left, the parents showed him the popcorn popper and said that he could make popcorn for the kids while they were gone. Apparently, he made the popcorn but forgot to put the top on the popper, so the popcorn flew all over the kitchen. Instead of cleaning it up, he just left it, pretended it never happened, and never mentioned it to the parents.

We still don’t know for sure what happened, but here is our best guess: The babysitter put Aly down to sleep in her crib. However, this was a crib that had a side that went up and down that made it easier to get the baby in and out of the crib. The side on the crib was in the ‘down’ position when we got home. We think that she forgot to put the side of the crib up after putting Aly in it. After she left the room, Aly fell out of the crib, landing face first on a Duplo block that had been left on the floor. She surely started crying at that point. When the babysitter opened the door and found that Aly was out of her crib, crying, and bleeding, she probably just closed the door and pretended that it didn’t happen. To block out the crying, she put in Raiders of the Lost Ark and turned the volume way up. When we got home she said that everything was “great.”

This version fits all the facts that we know and would mean that the babysitter didn’t purposely hurt Aly, which makes us feel slightly better. However, our hearts break when we think about poor Aly, hurt and bleeding in her room, banging on the door crying for someone to help her, but nobody came. Luckily, there didn’t appear to be any permanent damage to Aly, either physically or emotionally.

Needless to say, it was a VERY long time before we ever had a babysitter again.

Adventures in Escalator Riding

When I was really young, my mom used to take me shopping with her at the mall. Probably like many young kids, escalators made me pretty scared, particularly the end part. You could see the stairs disappear into the crack in the floor down at the bottom and I always believed that if you just stood there and didn’t step over the crack that you would get sucked under the floor with the escalator. I carefully stepped over the crack for years until I was probably around 4 years old. At that point I was old enough to realize that I probably wouldn’t get sucked under the floor if I didn’t step over the crack. With this quasi-knowledge in hand, I decided to test my theory next time I went to the mall.

At that age, I believed everything the TV told me in their clever ads. So, of course, when I got new sneakers they had to be Keds brand, because when you wore them they made you “run faster and jump higher”. One day my mom, who was about 8 months pregnant with my youngest sister, took me to the mall to get new Keds. After picking out some nifty new white ones, we headed for the car. As we reached the top of the “down” escalator, I realized this was my chance to test my theory. I decided that when we got to the bottom of the escalator I would not step over the crack. I would just stand there and not lift my feet, letting the escalator carry me past the crack.

This was one of the scariest things I had done in my young life. Several times on the way down I almost chickened out. What if I was wrong and it actually sucked me under the floor? But I screwed up my courage and as the crack got closer I held my feet completely still. The crack approached. I reached it and …… it sucked me under the floor! And I screamed bloody murder as it did it.

Well, it practically sucked me under. What actually happened was the front tip of my small sneakers DID get pulled into the crack. Then the escalator TRIED to pull me into the crack. It ground on my sneakers until it got jammed up and stopped with a firm grasp on the toe of my sneaker. I was screaming and screaming because it was actually sucking me under.

It must have been a hilarious scene to see, with a terrified 4 year old screaming at the bottom of the escalator, with his 8-month-pregnant mom with her arms around his waist trying to pull him out of the crack. Eventually the mall maintenance guy came and had to take the bottom part of the escalator apart to get my shoe unstuck.

It was a long time before I would ride an escalator again.

Happy Father’s Day

Posted to Facebook – June 19, 2016 ·

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Ken Gidewall. A few childhood memories of my dad:
– Doing science projects with him like building a crystal radio. Testing tubes from the TV at Radio Shack to find the bad one. (Yes, I’m just barely that old.)
– Watching The Poseidon Adventure on TV with him and holding our breath to see if we would die or not swimming through the sunken corridor.
– Watching the TV series Kung Fu every week, then always having a Kung Fu fight after it. Even though he did give me a bloody nose that one time.
– Wrestling with him on the floor. Using my mom when I couldn’t get out of a hold by saying, “Ow, ow, you’re hurting me”, at which she would come running in swatting at him and yelling to get off of me. When he loosened his grip I would jump back on top of him.
– Rebuffing almost all of his requests to teach me how to work on and fix a car…until I got my own. He didn’t even say very often, “I told you so”.
– Going camping with me, even though it wasn’t his “thing”. And when the tent flooded in the rain and we ended up in the car, he gave me the only seat that reclined so that I could be the one to get some sleep.
– Watching his great example of giving up one of his weekend days almost every week for years so he could drive to his widowed mother-in-law’s to do maintenance and repairs on her house and car, and help in any way she needed.

I love you Dad. Thanks for being a great example and a caring father growing up!

Selling the Kirkland House

In 1998, we decided to sell our house in Kirkland, WA and move to a bigger house with more yard in Snohomish. We were kind of expecting that a family would buy our house, but it turned out to be a single guy. (We sold it for about $200,000)  As we were just a few days out from the closing date, our realtor called us and said, “I just got a call from the buyer’s realtor.  He says that he hasn’t been able to contact the buyer for the last few days. He’s tried everything, but can’t find him. We’re not sure what this means for the closing, but we are just going to assume that he will show up and the closing will happen.”

Well, a few more days went by with no word from the buyer.  Then, the day before the closing date, our realtor called us again. This time he said, “This is going to sound funny, but I can’t get in touch with the buyer’s realtor. I don’t know what is going on, or if the closing will happen or not, but we’ll just continue on with the assumption that it will close”.

Well, the closing day came and went and we didn’t hear from either the buyer’s realtor or the buyer himself. We had no idea if we would ever hear from them again.

A few days after that, our realtor called us again and, with a little chuckle in his voice, said, “Well, I’ve heard the full story now. Here’s what happened: About a week before the closing date, the buyer checked himself into a lock-down rehab facility and didn’t have any access to a phone.  Then, the day before the closing, the buyer’s agent got in a bar fight and got put in jail, so he couldn’t contact us either.  Anyways, they are both out now and the buyer says he would still like to buy the house if you are willing.”

We thought about it a little and said to ourselves, “We aren’t sure what we are inflicting on this neighborhood.”, but we decided to go ahead with it anyways. Everything went smoothly after that and we lived happily ever after.

Temple Baptisms

(Told to me by Ardie Compton on 11/87)

“I was at the temple doing baptisms for the dead this week and was talking to one of the men who works there performing baptisms. This guy is really good and fast. One day, he told me, he was doing baptisms for the dead. He had a group of little boys, about 12 or 13 years old. Since they were so small he could do them really fast.  Up and down, up and down. He was doing this with one little guy. After he had done about 25 baptisms with this boy, he felt him collapse into the water.  He thought to himself, “What is going on?” and pulled him out of the water. As he did so, the boy took a deep breath, “Huuuuuuu!” He had been holding his breath the entire time!  The man was baptizing so fast that he didn’t know when to take a breath.”  We decided to call this “Baptisms ‘Till You’re Dead.”

Late Phone Call

(recorded on 8/27/2012)

My former teacher at BYU used to consult at various companies, including IBM. One day he was at IBM talking to a VP of Widgets (or some such high-ranking person).  The guy told him this story.

“One night I got a call at my house at about 3am which woke me up.  The guy at the other end said something like, ‘Hi, this is Carl at the Ops Center. We just got an 837BFC8D error and we’re not sure what to do about it’.  The VP said, ‘What??’ The guy repeated, ‘We just got an 837BFC8D error and we’re not sure what to do about it’.  The VP said, ‘Look, I’m the VP of Widgets. You shouldn’t be calling me for this type of issue. Call your supervisor.  Anyways, how did you even get my home number?’  The Ops guy said, ‘Sorry to disturb you, sir, but we got an alert on our screens that says, “Error 837BFC8D: Call Richard at 555-230-8347″.’  The VP replied, ‘What the…?  Well, call your supervisor to handle it and I’ll try to figure out what is going on in the morning.

Well, the next morning he was curious and had one of his people track down who wrote that piece of code.  It turns out that the guy who wrote it used to work for him many years ago at the beginning of his career when he was a lowly Development Manager and only had a few people working for him. He called the developer up and told him the story and asked, ‘What is going on? Why did you put my home phone number in the code?'”

The developer said, ‘Oh, I remember that!  I came to you one time and said, “What should we do if the program gets to this point? It would be a big problem.”  You told me, “Oh, it will never get there.”  I said, “Yes, but what if it does?”  You replied, “It WON’T. It’s impossible!”  I said again, “Yes, but what if it does?”  Exasperated, you said, “If the code ever gets there, you can tell them to call ME!”  So I did…'”

Brick Oven Parking Ticket

(recorded 2/2014. Happened around 1987)

At college at BYU, parking on campus was always a problem during the day because there were never enough parking spots for everybody who wanted to park. Right off the edge of campus was a pizza place called The Brick Oven.  Since they were so close to campus, their parking lot was a favorite place for students to park if they couldn’t find a spot. Of course, the pizza place didn’t like that so they had No Parking signs all around their parking lot warning people that they would be fined if they parked there. However, sometimes students would get desperate and park there anyways.  One day, my roommate Kenny Hudson had just such a problem. He was late to class and parked his car in the Brick Oven parking lot hoping to get away with it. When he got back after class he found out he hadn’t.

Instead of paying a towing service to tow the cars and taking a cut of the fine, The Brick Oven decided to take care of it themselves. They had a barrel that they filled up partway with cement. Then they would chain the barrel with a lock to the front bumper of the offending car and leave a note on the windshield that said, “To get your car unlocked, come in to the Brick Oven and pay the $50 fine.”

Well, when Kenny came back from school that day, he found the barrel chained to his bumper and the note on his window. He sat there looking at it for a few minutes, trying to figure a way out of his predicament.  Then suddenly, it occurred to him.  I have a VW Beattle! The trunk is in the front!!  So, he picked up the barrel, still attached by the chain to the bumper, put it in the trunk, and drove away.  He took it out behind a grocery store, cut the chain off with a hacksaw, and left it there with a note that said, “Next time you lock up a Beetle, chain it to the back”.

Swim with the Sharks

(recorded on 4/26/2012)

Our family took a vacation to Hawaii one year.  We had a great time playing in the surf, snorkeling, and relaxing. We rented a car and took a ride around the island.  We stopped at one place that advertised, “Swim with the Dolphins – $120”.  We had a discussion about going there. We couldn’t possibly afford for everyone to do that and for a short time considered just sending Aly on it, but ultimately decided not to.

We continued on driving around the island and came on another tourist trap. This one advertised, “Swim with the Sharks – $20”  We stopped out of curiosity and they told us that they kept the sharks in their pen and pulled all the teeth out of the sharks, so it was perfectly safe.

We had a discussion among the family.  We thought that Sharks are constantly growing a new set of teeth that rotate into position to replace broken ones.  We wondered that, if it took $120 to take care of Dolphins, how good of a job could they be doing for $20 making sure they were pulling those new teeth and keeping those sharks fed so they weren’t hungry?  Even though it sounded like a good deal, we decided that some deals are just not worth the risk.