It was just a normal summer evening BBQ in the singles ward in good old Long Beach CA.
I was enjoying a nice game of checkers inside with my (then boyfriend of 2 months? now) friend Ryan, while Bayba (at the time single) was enjoying an engaging conversation with one of her friends in the backyard. There were friends mingling everywhere, delicious BBQ spreads of watermelon, soda and chips, and of course, Bro. Hall’s famous frisbee sized cheeseburgers on everyone’s plate. It was an all around great night to party in Southern California for single, mormon college students.
As I mentioned, Ryan and I were going steady but Bayba was not seeing anyone. This is a key point in the story. Okay, technically, she was on the market, but she had gone on one date with a guy who we will call Adam (not his real name), and he thought things were going really well. Bayba had always been a selective dater, and she was usually willing to give a gentleman a chance, but they weren’t exactly on the same page after the first date. “Eh, why not?” That is how the first date came to be. He took her out on a date that she enjoyed, as friends, and had a great time. And then he went that extra mile and showed up at her doorstep the next day with the romantic gesture of something sentimental he had hand-crafted for her…and while that is normally a nice thing, it was clear he had spent some time on it and it also became the exact moment when she started getting nervous. Really nervous, with a cloud of dread looming and a big pit in her stomach nervous. All thoughts from that moment on started dwelling toward how she was going to get out of this, now, “situation” which I could not help but find hilarious. “It’s simple Bayba” I’d say, “Just tell him you’re not interested, he’ll be fine.” Her reply: “Noooooo Jooooneeesss. Uhhhhgggg Whyyyyy does this happen to me?!! Why can’t I just be cool and not stress out? [now fretting about the room with hands flailing] I. Don’t. Like. Him. Like. That. Why. Did. He. Make. It. Awkward? Now I feel obligated. I hate this!”
Fortunately, she had about a week to settle her feelings before decidedly strategizing to completely avoid him from then on. Unfortunately, he had no idea she felt that way. He waited the obligatory week or two before asking her on a second date, which brings us right to the night of the BBQ.
Where he had just shown up.
Ryan was the first to notice the scene during our game of checkers, and started laughing heartedly (in the way all guys do when they really feel for a guy but still laugh at him), and gestured that I turn around from our game and look at the scene outside. Adam had summoned the courage to bypass cold shoulder signals and continually circulate the area that Bayba stood in conversation, like a nervous musician waiting in the wings for his chance to go on stage. He was patient. But her conversation dragged on and on. “How patient will he be?” we wondered together. Homeboy was on a mission. He hung around so long that he actually ran out of people to pretend talk to in the vicinity, so he just stood there, quietly waiting in line for his turn to talk to her. Eventually, he was prime. With his hand perched on the tree just above Bayba, and her conversation finally winding down, all she had to do was make a quarter turn in his direction, and she would be his, at least, in conversation. But, he underestimated Bayba’s fortitude. In a flash that I can only describe as a blur, she hugged goodbye to her friend, tucked under his arm, and bolted, I mean, BOLTED straight to our table…frantically looked left and right, and then just B-lined it straight out the front door with a speed and velocity of speedwalking I hadn’t seen, frankly, ever.
As the front door closed, Ryan and I looked at each other with telling looks in our eyes that questioned in likeness: “what. just. happened?”
And then, being the most horrible BFF in the world, I said it. “Ryan, wouldn’t if be really funny if you pretended to be Adam, and called her, and asked her if you could come over and talk to her? Just to freak her out even more!”
Ryan agreed. And having known the back story (because he had been there for the past few weeks to see the whole date/relationship unfold) he started practicing Adam’s voice to get just the right pitch and nervous energy to sound convincing.
Ryan: Oh, uh, Hey Emily, this is Adam…I uh noticed that you left the party really quickly, is uh everything Okay?
Bayba: Yep. Great. I’m Good.
Ryan: Oh, because it looked like something was wrong because you just left so quickly.
Bayba: Oh I just had to clean, and do my art project, and do the dishes, and do the laundry, and call my sister because she is having a hard time.
Ryan: Well, Okay then, is there anything I can do to help?
Bayba: No, I got it. I’m good. Thank you though. (trying to be polite)
Ryan: Okay, no problem, just wanted to see if you were okay.
Bayba: Yep, I’m Okay. Thanks. Bye!
Ryan: Uh ohkay, bye.
Ryan and I laugh hysterically. And then my phone rings immediately:
Bayba: Jones! I’m freaking out. Guess who just called me!
Me: I don’t know, Adam?
Bayba: Adam. Yes!! Ugh. He wanted to know why I left, and I just stalled! I didn’t know what to say! He’s freaking me out Jones! Why is he calling me!?
Me: Okay calm down, I’ll be home soon…you can tell me about it in a minute.
Bayba: Hold on my sister is calling me back now- I have to tell her the story. Gotta go – bye.
Me to Ryan: Lets call her again!
Bayba: Hellooo? (hesitating)
Ryan: Oh Hey Emily! (cheerful) It’s Adam again. From our last conversation it sounded like you could use a pick me up, so I thought I could maybe come bring you some ice cream.
Bayba: Oh no, I don’t need any ice cream. I’m actually not feeling well so that’s not a very good idea.
Ryan: Oh are you sure? I mean, you just told me you were fine a few minutes ago. I’m just around the corner from your house, so I could totally stop by.
Bayba: Well you don’t really have to. Actually you shouldn’t, it isn’t a good time.
Ryan: Oh because I am literally parked just right outside your house and I already have ice cream, so I wouldn’t mind coming in.
Bayba: Sorry I gottagotalktoyoulaterbye!
My phone rings again:
Bayba: (quietly) Jones! You will NOT BELIEVE this. He said he has ice cream and is right outside our APARTMENT! Ahhhhhh!
Me: Whaaaa? Crazytown. Hey we are literally parking now, we’ll scope out the street and let you know if he is outside.
Bayba: (quietly) Okay thanks, see you soon.
By this time, Ryan and I were practically crying and it was really difficult to pull ourselves together to face her. Little did we know how difficult it would soon become, when we discovered that every single light in the apartment was dark, both locks on the front door secured, and discovered Bayba crouching in the hiding position in the bathroom – in a total fret, relaying the entire story to her sister on the other end of the line, in a whisper. Of note, the bathroom was situated on the interior of the apartment, with no outside windows. It was all we could do to keep a straight face as she got off the phone and started disclosing her side of the story to us. All. we. could. do. I tell you.
To our credit, we held our poker faces until she was done telling us all about it, and then, we admitted that we knew a little more than we let on. We said “and you know what the best part of the story was?” Bayba: “What?” Me: “It was Ryan the whole time!”
To her eternal credit, she laughed (probably in sheer relief) about the entire thing and truly enjoyed the joke right along with us. Because, you have to admit, it is pretty darn funny joke. Any that is just another reason why Emily Bayba is one of my favorite people of all time.