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Features May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

Campus Canoodling
By Jennifer Reese

After we placed our Campus Canoodling ad in the magazine we received many great stories of love and courtships at UCSD.

 
     

As a newly minted Muir freshman in 1984, Stefanie Fox, ’88, introduced herself to an attractive, bored-looking stranger sitting on the grass. “The RAs had told us to go meet people,” says Stefanie. “So I went up and said, ‘Hi, I’m Stefanie, let’s go meet people.’” The stranger’s name was Josh Kaplan, Muir ’88, from Saratoga, Calif., and the two began dating that night. Things could easily have fizzled, but Stefanie recalls that a couple of weeks later they were playing with a boomerang on Muir Field when she asked, “Could you ever picture yourself falling in love with me?” To which Josh responded, “Stefanie, I am in love with you.”

Josh wooed Stefanie, a Woodland Hills native, over quesadillas and chips at Roberto’s, and by their sophomore year at UCSD, Stefanie says she felt they were “destined to be together.” They married in 1989. “It wasn’t something I intended to do,” says Stefanie of her almost ridiculously perfect UCSD love story. “It just worked.”

No one keeps statistics on UCSD romances, but in addition to being one of the top-ranked public universities in the country, it is safe to venture a guess that the campus has also served, over the years, as the eucalyptus-scented backdrop to many thousands of love stories. Some are sweet and short-lived, others short-lived and not so sweet, but more than a few, like the Kaplans’, have real staying power. Every year UCSD sends thousands of undergrads into the world with diplomas, and a handful of those also leave with a life partner. “It’s often struck me you couldn’t design a better dating environment than a university,” says UCSD psychology professor Nicholas Christenfeld, who teaches a course on happiness. “People are carefully sorted and selected to be similar, and the normal awkwardness of meeting people is largely eliminated. You usually have an excuse to talk to someone, and you know you have enough in common that there’s always a topic to discuss.”

 

Wonderful World. Math majors Dave Ford, WArren '90, and Diane Scandura, Revelle '90, first met in 1987. A few years after they graduated, he proposed at a Valentine's Day dance on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, singing Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World."

Recently, we asked longstanding UCSD couples to share their stories. We were flooded with tales of flirting in Poli Sci 13, canoodling on the 4th floor of the Geisel Library, a fortuitous connection at a Sun God party, proposals in the east parking lot, and marriages at the International Center and Scripps pier. Among these accounts, we noticed a fascinating trend: a disproportionate number of couples, like the Kaplans, met early in their freshman year. Why are these freshman bonds so abundant and durable? Are matriculating freshmen simply more eager, open-minded and open-hearted than juniors? Professor Christenfeld has one theory: “It’s easy to attribute the excitement felt about one thing to another. Just like sports events can turn into big fights, I think that during freshman week you’re nervous about being out on your own. Then you may see someone, who under ordinary circumstances you’d think was just fine, but is now associated with your excitement. And you think, I’m all trembly…”

San Diegan Joan Baldwin, ’84, arrived at Revelle in 1979 with her mother’s advice ringing in her ears: “Look for the Big Man On Campus.” Wandering through Welcome Week “with no quarterback in sight,” she spotted the previous year’s Watermelon Queen, Bill Clabby, Revelle ’88, wearing oversized green glasses, face paint and a trench coat. He probably wasn’t the lantern-jawed BMOC Mom had in mind, nor was he Joan’s usual type. But by November, she and the Watermelon Queen were a couple. “I thought I wanted to marry a 6 foot-2-inch-tall, blond surfer and I told this to Bill, who was 5 feet 11 inches tall and on the geeky side. He said, ‘That lets me off the hook!’”

Actually, it didn’t. After four years of dates at Geisel’s Social Sciences’ stacks (to “study into the wee hours and smooch,” says Joan) they married. Dave Tomlinson, Revelle ’95, product manager for a software company in Dallas, has an alternative, somewhat pragmatic theory about the freshman romance factor: “You meet a lot of people the first day, and that ends up being your crew. Unless you’re really emotionally mature and able to branch out. But most people aren’t.” He first spotted his future wife Lisa Remedios, Revelle ’94, on the Argo Hall dorm rails as a freshman in 1990. “I commented on her shoes, these cool hiking boots with red shoelaces.”

“Do I remember what he was wearing?” asks Lisa, now an Ob-Gyn. “Absolutely not, but he had these real thick coke-bottle glasses. He was a cutie, but he did have those horrible glasses. After we’d been together a bit, he went water-skiing and jumped into the lake and they fell off. I was so happy.”

They began officially dating after a costume party (he dressed as Clint Eastwood, she, a flapper) but eventually drifted apart. Then, shortly after graduating in 1995, as Lisa was preparing to relocate to Northern California, she reconnected with Dave—and changed her mind about the move. They were married the next year. “It was pretty whirlwind,” says Lisa. “But there weren’t any skeletons in his closet I didn’t already know.”

Amy Holmes Davis, ’98, likes to say that she literally grew up with her husband. On move-in day 1994, Amy—newly installed in her Marshall digs—found two boys at her door. She was about to blow-dry her hair, and they offered to do it for her, an offer she politely declined. “That was the first time I met Paul Davis [Marshall ’98],” says Amy. “Later that
day, a group of us went to the beach and my now-husband hung back with me because I was in jeans. I think it’s very interesting that my parents had just left and this person came into my life. Having met when I was 18 and he was 19, we’ve taken this whole journey together.”

Dinah Maurer Raful, Muir ’72, also “grew up” with her husband of 35 years, Larry Raful, Muir ’72, whom she met as a freshman in 1968. “I went from college to Larry,” says Dinah. “I never even lived in my own apartment.” Her first impression: “A big guy, with a torn West Virginia T-shirt,
a mop of curly hair and a huge smile.”

“She claims the T-shirt had holes in it, but I don’t think it did,” Larry says. “Although over the years it acquired holes. She remembers the T-shirt but I remember the wonderful short, brown skirt she wore-and platform shoes. The one thing about her everyone would agree with: She walks fast. She would walk across campus very fast and you couldn’t help looking at her. She had long straight hair and her legs were—and still are—fabulous.”

“We would walk all over—those nights that are so gorgeous,” says Dinah. “He’d sit on the grass at Matthews and play guitar. The Beach Boys, Peter, Paul & Mary. It was the ’60s and we were very anti-war.”

Their courtship wasn’t all incense and patchouli; who’s is? “There was the time when she threw an orange soda in my face at the old coffee hut down in the woods at Revelle,” recalls Larry. “The campus radio station had looped the ending of ‘Hey Jude’ and it played for 45 minutes. I thought that was cool; she thought we should go. But we survived the incident and got married. I’m not sure I believe there’s one person in the world for you, and I’m not sure if marriage to one person is natural. But it has never occurred to me I’d be happier with someone else. I know how lucky I am.”

Luck should never be discounted. Freshman Nancy Jurado, Warren ’03, was living in the Warren apartments when Sergio Bosley Bernal, Warren ’04, who’d forgotten his friend’s suite number, randomly knocked on her door in 1999. “He was an easygoing, happy guy,” says Nancy. “His personality was just so joyful it was impossible not to sit and talk to him. I guess there was a spark from the start, but we denied everything.”

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“I'm not sure I believe there's one person in the world for you, and I'm not sure if marriage to one person is natural. But it has never occurred to me I'd be happier with someone else. I know how lucky I am."