It was like stepping into another world, or maybe just another time. Maybe it was both. The girls were the prettiest girls I had ever seen. They were more than beautiful. Their beauty was pure and innocent. I couldn’t help but think that my friends from New York who were home-schooled would consider these creatures to be perfect. Their hair was perfect. Their smiles were perfect. Their posture was painfully perfect. They all smelled like gardenias and Tea Rose. I wondered how long it took them to stitch together the formal dresses they were wearing. After all, making your own clothes is a skill they honed as a part of their homemaking major.
And their dates…I have to admit it was refreshing to see so many men in one place wearing SUITS (khakis and a jacket is NOT a suit). And they were all clean cut. The men at Bob Jones are taught to be perfectly mannered. And they are. The young ladies at BJ don’t have to worry about that awkward “please don’t try to kiss me at the end of the night because I’m really not that in to you” moment. And the boys there are ALWAYS on time. It’s the 11th commandment to be punctual, after all. I have to admit, though, I laughed out loud at the girl whose date thought it appropriate to bring her a potted plant. Maybe the guy didn’t think about how inconvenient it is to carry around A POTTED PLANT. But that was more creative than the guy who brought his date carnations. I tried to convince myself “Maybe it’s an inside joke.”
When you are standing in the midst of this kind of scene, believe me when I say that the sexual tension was palpable. And I found that a far more interesting than what is offered by the rest if the world. At Bob Jones, the boys meet the girls at their dorms. They bring flowers. They behave themselves. The lines and rules are clearly defined. There are no questions about expectations, social ones at any rate. Everyone knows their role, and they fulfill them gracefully. All of that restraint created so much mystery and intensity.
Don’t get me wrong. There are aspects of that world that, if I don’t outright reject, they do creep me out. For example, before the program started, the whole auditorium stood…in unison…and sang the National Anthem. Even patriotism is required and regulated there. The sound created by 6,000 people standing at one time made me feel that I was in the middle of the Army of the Third Reich. To be fair, I have never actually been in the middle of the Army of the Third Reich, but I’ve seen movies. And then they spoke together…in unison…The Lord’s Prayer. They recited it so slowly that it prolonged my nervousness as I wondered, “Are they going to say ‘trespasses’ or ‘debts’? What is in the King James? Come on Cheryl. You can remember.”
There are many things that I associate with Bob Jones University that leave a bad taste in my mouth. But at the end of the night, it was nice to spend an evening that transported me back to time when girls were ladies and boys said Ma’am, and everything had it’s place. I can’t say that I miss that because I have never lived in a time when that was the norm. But I crave that. I crave that for myself and for every girl who has ever walked by a construction site.
I don’t think that it is realistic to think that the rest of the culture will ever re-evolve into a world with boundaries. But for one night, I very much enjoyed being a part of their world.