Along the dirt road that led to the church, Sarah and George walked, kicking the old can ahead of them as they traveled. The sun lipped over the trees, signifying the coming of a new day, and the arrival of the school bus in just minutes. Near the gate, several other teens had gathered, ready to board the bus and head off to school.
All the teens knew one another. The boys knew the girls and the girls knew the boys, although you never would have noticed from the clumping of the kids.
When the moon crawled over the trees, all the kids began to gather at the social hall, waiting for their turn to party. George and Sarah were on their last date, three in a row. The hall would be filled with other teens all ready to dance and sing, play games and enjoy all that the adults had planned for them. Friday nights were for them.
“The rules say only three dates in a row and then try someone new.” Sarah took his hand and smiled.
“I just think this is unfair.”
Sarah knew she had no intention of dating him again. He was nice, but she had fulfilled her requirement and wanted to move on.
The hall jumped with people all over the dance floor as they arrived. Being the gentleman, George gathered some food and a couple of drinks and joined Sarah at the table. She was already deep in conversation about the dreamy new guy whose parents had just joined the community. Tommy, Hillary’s date, engaged George in some whimsical conversation about how all the girls’ heads were turned by the new guy.
Bill, the newest of the group, was all that there was to beauty, but very shy. Every time some young lady looked his direction, he found a way to turn his gaze to an empty space. This world was made for him.
The elders knew that dating was a difficult time for the youth. Some were outgoing and others were simply too shy to interact. For the community to survive, there had to be a good way to integrate the teens and a good way to help them make good choices of the life-partners. The three date rule seemed perfect. Only date the same person three times in a row. Girls had to accept an offer of a date from those that asked. Guys were expected to ask each girl at least once. No one was left out.
The process worked well. Several couples had found their mates and the whole process was as seamless as any project involving teenagers could be.
Michael and Melissa were no exception. They had held to the three date limit until all other suitors were eliminated. Each week, the two found themselves dancing together and having a good time at the Friday social. Saturdays and Sundays they spent in each other’s company. No one would be surprised if they married. After all, it looked like a great fit.
As the party slowed to a crawl, the last slow dance of the evening began. George and Sarah found their way to the dance floor for one last dance and George’s chance to ask to walk her home. Although she declined, the door was left open for further dates, should there be an opportunity. Of course, Michael and Melissa danced the last song together before disappearing out the door for the short walk to Melissa’s house. Her father would be waiting.
George found the right words to ask out Linda, a pretty girl born into the community. Sarah had no trouble finding another date for next weeks’ social. She just smiled and moved along. The younger kids, too young to date, gathered in groups for the walk home. School news and sports kept the conversation moving as one by one, they dropped off the path at their homes. Another successful Friday night. Next week, the movie night and popcorn.