One could be forgiven for calling Colin McFaul and Nora Friedman the archetypical University of Chicago couple. To begin with, they met here as undergraduates and were married two Sundays ago at Rockefeller Chapel. For their interview with the Maroon, Friedman wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the skeleton of a giant ground sloth, and McFaul wore one reading, “I am broke. Do not attempt to use me. If you need help, seek a tutor.” “It’s from the MacLab,” he explained. Typical U of C material.
And then there’s the fact that when Friedman proposed to McFaul two years ago, she did so for 30 Scavenger Hunt points.
The couple met through a matchmaking auction held by the Vegan Society when they were both third-years. Friedman locked in the winning bid for a date with McFaul, who was up for auction.
His online advertisement read as follows: “Physics is hot. So is Scav Hunt. So is the hit Nickelodeon series Pete and Pete. In the name of science, Colin is currently conducting an experiment to determine if, in fact, vegans taste better. Colin is also a hawk of the night, preferring to be awake between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. EDITOR’S NOTE: kissing Colin is like drinking Jack Daniels straight from the bottle.”
“The ad was right,” Friedman said. “Those things are hot.” Their first date took them to the Medici, where two carnivorous orders brought both the relief of knowing that neither was, in fact, vegan.
By the time of their fourth-year Scavenger Hunt, in which McFaul served as a judge and Friedman a loyal Burton-Judson competitor, the two had been dating for a year and had already discussed marriage. “But only briefly, a couple of times,” Friedman said. “He was studying abroad in Chile that summer, and we thought that after he got back, we might think about getting engaged.”
Then came Scav Hunt clues #282 and #283. The first was drawn from the lyrics of a beloved Meatloaf song: “Do anything for love. Run into hell and back…. Raise me up. Help me down. Get me right out of this Godforsaken town….” The second read simply, “Do that.”
“I knew Colin so well that I knew he’d written the clue,” Friedman said. “My team came up with this really clever comic book, Meatloaf’s Adventures at the U of C, which the judge gave us full points for. When I found out, I said, ‘Thank God. If that hadn’t worked, I might have had to propose to Colin.’”
“I want to see that,” said the judge, and called for McFaul. One minute of panic later, Friedman was on one knee in front of McFaul. “I know you wrote that clue, you son of a bitch!” And one confused minute of hysteria later (“Are you serious?” “I’m serious if you’re serious!”) they were engaged.
Friedman’s team didn’t win Scavenger Hunt, a fact about which she is complacent. “B-J’s philosophy was always to pick a few really good items and do them really well. We did win Best Item for my proposal.”
Even the couple’s complications in planning the wedding were characteristic of the U of C. “We had a minor crisis…. Milton Friedman died. So because of the memorial, repair work at Rockefeller was pushed back, and we panicked about having a scaffold in our wedding photos.” Chapel Dean Alison Boden arranged for a black cloth to be draped over the scaffold. Despite thunderstorms in the forecast, the wedding day’s weather was perfect, and the couple was happy to report that McFaul’s Catholic family picked up immediately on the Jewish traditions brought by Friedman’s, including the Hora, an Israeli folk dance. A crowd of about 70 Scavenger Hunt groupies was in attendance.
Today, McFaul and Friedman are living in conjugal bliss on East 55th Street, planning their honeymoon trip to Ireland next week. Afterwards, they will prepare a move to New Orleans to attend graduate school together at Tulane University. McFaul will be seeking his Ph.D. in physics, and Friedman, a HIPS major, will be working toward a doctorate in either parasitology or epidemiology.
Asked to comment on the often-cited high rate of marriage among University couples, Friedman explained her theory. “In high school you didn’t have many friends who were into chemistry or theater or who thought insects were really cool—finally you show up on the UC campus, and you discover people just like you. They play Dungeons and Dragons, maybe they play Magic…. You think, where else am I ever gonna find people like this? And you grab onto the first one you can.”
“I don’t play Magic,” McFaul clarified. “Anymore.”