Today’s fantastic guest post comes from Whitney Archibald. Whitney, the mother of three boys (one of which will officially arrive in a month) and a freelance writer and editor, is currently attempting to emit the Vibe through layers upon layers of winter clothing in Rochester, MN. She is excited to change her Segullah status from lurker to contributor.
Jen had it. None of us could put our finger on just what “it” was; we were just grateful to be her roommates. Because of “it,” we didn’t have to roast beef or cook brownies to fill our apartment with boys from the ward. We always had adventurous weekend plans — with boys. For a never-been-kissed freshman that turned Neanderthal every time I was alone with the opposite sex, this was unprecedented.
The fact that Jen had a boyfriend back home was even more to our advantage. This prevented her from choosing from among the eligible males who made our kitchen a routine detour on their way home from class, which would have staunched the flow.
Jen was pretty, but not remarkably so. She was funny, but not riotously so. When we asked her how she attracted men like lint to a black sweater, she attributed her success to “The Vibe.”
We didn’t need her to define the Vibe. We’d seen it in action. On the dance floor, at church, in the library — anywhere she encountered a semi-interesting male. Her eyes danced (the fandango). Her mouth tilted in an intriguing half smile. Sparks shot from her hair. Boys flocked, fawned, hurdled tall buildings.
Call it what you will – charisma, magnetism, sex appeal – I decided to make a thorough study of it while I had such a classic manifestation living right in my apartment. The aim of my anthropological research: harness the raw power of the vibe and use it to my advantage.
As I studied the Vibe, I noticed that some girls (like Jen and my younger sister) just come by the gift naturally. One toss of their hair, one bemused smirk, and they become pied pipers of eager suitors.
Other girls, like me, have to practice. I came up with a recipe. First, and most importantly, the “come-hither gleam.” To accomplish this, I had to consciously think about making my eyes sparkle as I walked on campus. It helped to say to myself, “I love life. What a beautiful day. Look at all these fascinating people.” I showed noticeable enthusiasm when I came across an acquaintance. My eyes projected intelligence and wit.
Next, I worked on my conversational skills – not what I said, but showing genuine interest and rapt attention when someone else was talking (and not just thinking about what I was going to say next).
The final piece to the puzzle was mastering the private exchange, a brief personal connection with one person in a group. I couldn’t pull off the subtle wink, partly because there’s nothing attractive about the way my left eye half closes each time I close the right. I had to settle for the half smile and laughing eyes.
I didn’t become a Vibe expert until the beginning of my sophomore year. When I did, I got immediate results. For the first time in my life, I actually had to check my schedule before accepting a date. When paired with a tennis racket (a no-fail conversational foot-in-the-door), which I carried around all day in anticipation of my afternoon class, the Vibe was inimitable. Guys asked me out in class, at church, even just walking down the sidewalk on campus. For the first time in my life my crushes were reciprocated and I actually had to choose among interested men.
The Vibe condensed my active dating life into about three months. I’ll condense it further into a few paragraphs. The highs included several really nice guys who, despite efforts on both our parts, just weren’t “the one.”
One of these nice guys was from my home stake. Since he had lived four hours away and was two years older – not to mention an untouchable basketball star — the thought of the two of us in any context had never even occurred to me. Now he was asking me out.
I prepared to turn on the Vibe like never before. And I did, to great effect. I told entertaining stories at a hamburger joint. I grabbed his hand during the couple’s skate at the roller rink. I even Vibed my way to third place in the disco skating competition. But I could not maintain the vibe at this intensity for long. On our second date, in a less-lively venue at Johnny B’s comedy club, he actually commented about how last time I had been the life of the party.
The lows included many first-date-only guys, including the one who “cooked” me a spaghetti dinner (“Hot spaghetti plus a cold jar of sauce from the fridge. That’ll be just right.”). As the date dragged on, he repeatedly tried to rest his head on my shoulder during a hypnosis show at Johnny B’s comedy club, attempted to warm his feet in the crease behind my knees while we watched Monty Python, and then endlessly serenaded me with his guitar.
I went on countless “creative” group dates, including a mortifying scavenger hunt, during which we accidentally knocked on the door of a married couple at 10 p.m. and woke their baby.
Most importantly, the Vibe helped me meet my husband in biology class (thanks to that tennis racket). A few months after we met, we started dating exclusively and I reserved the Vibe for him alone.
Ten years (and two children) later, I happen to pass a mirror just after the nightly call from my husband, telling me he’s on his way home from work. Smudged mascara, a booger-encrusted shirt, holey jeans, and a disheveled ponytail. The only vibe I’m emitting is the ambivalence of one-who-has-let-herself-go.
I flash back to that vivacious girl with the tennis racket, rush to my room to change my clothes, give my face a scrub and a fresh coat of mascara, and smooth my hair.
It’s time for a Vibe revival.