Not too long ago, a male friend and I reminisced about our days in the Christian fellowship we were both a part of in college. We laughed about funny memories, expressed frustration with certain things, and overall just had a great time walking down memory lane. One of the things that came up were the SAD and BAD events. I thought I’d take you with me on another stroll through that lane. It’s nice out, so let’s go!

What Memory Lane looks like in my mind

Our fellowship held a lot of different events throughout the academic year. Two of the biggest were the Sister Appreciation Dinner and the Brother Appreciation Dinner, also known as SAD and BAD. For SAD, the girls would all fill out questionnaires about their favorite things, current class schedule, and other information. The guys would each be randomly assigned to the girls as “secret brothers,” and during the following week they would give anonymous gifts and notes to their “sister.” At the end of the week, there would be an organized dinner treating the girls, and the secret brothers would announce who was who. BAD worked the same way, but with the girls surprising the guys.

You may be thinking, that all sounds cute and fun! Sometimes it was. Everyone laughed a lot, like the time when motion activated lights outside a girl’s house turned on in the evening when someone was trying to put a gift on her doorstep, revealing his identity. We would get excited to see what our secret sibling came up with. There were creative, homemade gifts and notes with themed Bible verses for that person’s academic major. So yes, parts of SAD and BAD were fun. Other times they felt like a blind dating setup. I knew people who ended up in awkward situations where their secret brother or sister read more into their pairing than was actually there and were disappointed, upset, or angry when those people didn’t reciprocate the romance.

There were also uncomfortable boundary issues with the gift giving at times, like when my secret brother from junior year gave me way too much. Since we were all college students, expectations from secret siblings were usually something like $20 or $30 worth of little gifts. That person’s favorite snack, and some encouraging notes. It wasn’t supposed to be much more than that. Not this guy! He left gifts at my door every day, from large gift cards to places like Starbucks and an oversize hat box completely full of chocolates, to multiple bouquets of flowers and a new DVD. It must have come to $150 or $200 in total, and I felt incredibly weird. It was even stranger at the end-of-the-week-dinner, when I found out he wasn’t even a friend, he was an upperclassman I barely knew. He was definitely very disappointed that I said I was busy when he asked if we could hang out alone later. Another year, my secret brother didn’t do anything for me the entire week. No communication or anything. I wasn’t sure if my questionnaire had gotten lost, and I felt awkward attending the dinner, but I did anyway. When it was his turn to be revealed, my secret brother simply said, “Oh, my sister was Anna. I forgot to do anything. Sorry,” and walked away from the podium. How dare he!


The dinner part was still fun, despite some underlying social tension. The first year I participated, the girls were instructed to arrive very dressed up to dinner. We all wore dresses and heels, thinking we’d be sitting down most of the time. When we arrived, the guys informed us that before eating we’d be divided into groups of 4 for a photo scavenger hunt around the town. Every photo needed to have at least two team members pictured along with the requested item or place. The scavenger hunt requirements were things like “get a photo with roadkill.” I’m not kidding. Picture four college girls driving around the Trenton area, screaming “Stop the car! Roadkill!”, and clip-clop-clip-clop-ing in heels to get out of the car and crouch near a raccoon.

Walking in heels

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