Two, 198 and 50 are all numbers that mean something to Cal Poly business professor Calvin Stevens. Although the numbers all seem inconsequential, they all played a major role in his life. You see, Cal didn’t meet the love of his life, Nancy Nylen, on September 14, 1971, in chemistry class, but on “The Dating Game” show number 198.
In the 1970s, most young people in Southern California knew someone who had auditioned for “The Dating Game” — it was almost a right of passage, the Stevens said. Before filming the series, Nancy and Cal felt like nothing would come of it, except maybe an all-expenses-paid date.
“The Dating Game” is exactly what it sounds like. According to IMDb, the show ran from 1965 to 1985. The game involved a single woman asking three hidden, unknown bachelors questions about her or hypothetical questions about their potential relationship in front of a live studio audience. After carefully considering her options, she would then choose which bachelor to go on a date with. A host of celebrities have also appeared on the show hoping to find their true love, such as Tom Selleck and Farrah Fawcett.
Nancy and Cal’s show started like any other: with Nancy on one side of the partition and three eligible bachelors on the other. Cal got lucky number two (this is where number two becomes significant).
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Nancy recalls loving it “immediately” after Cal answered her questions, though they were edited out a bit by the show’s writers. She picked him out to date and from there they moved on to the next step: meeting Nancy’s parents who were taping the show.
They then went to dinner, started dating, and after seven months the couple were married on April 8, 1972.
As for their first date, it was also unusual.
Normally, the couple were simply sent to the cinema or to dinner around the corner. However, even the showrunners could tell there was something special about Nancy and Cal.
Their official dating game date was to be three days at a resort in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee about three weeks after they first met on The Dating Game. Cal said it was “a big deal” because it wasn’t just dinner. Both Cal and Nancy ensured that they had separate accommodations and a chaperone during this time, as Cal noted that it was 1971.
Looking back on his time on the show, Cal remembers it fondly.
“I’m glad. I’m glad we met and I did this,” Cal said.
Nancy added that it just felt like how the couple were supposed to meet.
The couple currently lives in San Luis Obispo with their three children and three grandchildren.
When asked how they lasted 50 years together after their unusual encounter, Cal looked at Nancy lovingly and said she was and is his best friend. Cal said the reunion on the show “felt like that’s the way [they] were supposed to meet.
Looking back on their time together, Nancy said the cliché every couple in love says — that she wouldn’t change a thing. When asked how the couple reached their 50th birthday, Cal replied, “We’re friends, we really love each other.”
While talking to their two daughters, both of their children said they realized that the way their parents met was not normal.
“It’s like your parents were the first date they met or the original reality TV star couple that made it happen,” their daughter Tessa Espinoza, senior director of external relations and director of student affairs development, told CalPoly.
Espinoza said that although her parents met on the show, “it’s really not the defining story of [her] mom and dad’s wedding.
Espinoza described the hobbies and interests his parents shared, saying “The Dating Game” was a means to an end. She said they had to work to make their marriage and family last.
Amy Goymerac, their other daughter and a diligent voice teacher at Cal Poly, said that for her, her parents’ marriage wasn’t just one that started on television and only continued despite it. She said their marriage taught her love, understanding, compassion and patience.
Cal and Nancy are currently living their romance, which includes finding the original recording of the episode in which they first met. The couple have searched for the 198 show tape for years, but each time they avoid them.
Cal was able to get in direct contact with a Sony VP, but was told the show had been recorded since it was recorded on a film reel, just a few years before the VCR became the industry standard.
The only choice the couple have in rewatching their first encounter is if someone somehow has the tape in a collection. The couple said they hope to collect the tape before their 50th birthday on April 8. To follow the couple’s story and see if there’s an update, Cal has created a Blog.