NCMOrons

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During my stay at BYU, which spanned most of the 1990s and ended only at the request of the university president, “NCMO” — Non-Committal Make-Out — was something done in the privacy of one’s apartment or automobile, and it was generally with someone you knew. Nowadays, thanks to our friend the Internet, it is possible to make out with someone you’ve never met before, and whom you will never see again.

Whom do we have to thank for this bold step forward in the area of lust? Why, BYU students, of course! Seems like those plucky go-getters are always curing a disease, creating new technology, or finding a way for strangers to grope one another.

The Web site in question is www.ncmo.org, and it burst onto the scene just a few weeks ago. Initially, it boldly declared that NCMO was not against BYU’s Honor Code, and it even included a link to the Honor Code itself, so that you could read it and see that NCMO is not even MENTIONED, let alone forbidden. (“Live a chaste and virtuous life,” which IS mentioned, obviously has no relevance here, and you really ought to stop reading things into the Honor Code that aren’t there.)

Also not specifically mentioned — and therefore, by the same logic, allowable — are activities such as eating Legos and pounding tent pegs into one’s own thorax.

After some harassment from the media and BYU, the site’s owners, who have remained anonymous, changed their defintion of the acronym “NCMO.” Now, the site says, it means, “Non-Committal Meetings Online,” and instead of being a place where people can post messages and arrange to meet each other for some non-committal make-out, it’s a place where people can post messages and arrange to go on actual dates, without the pressure of developing relationships.

“We are not condoning nor promoting non-committal make-out or anything like unto it,” says the site.

Since the Internet was created with liars and perverts in mind, it should come as no surprise to you that this is a huge load of crap. The site’s owners have not changed their goal at all; they’re just trying to keep BYU off their backs (a formidable task indeed). NCMO.org still exists so that people can meet up and make out. If they lose control of their passions and go further than just kissing, well, that’s their own problem. NCMO.org does not condone nor promote such things.

Well, except for the fact that NCMO.org DOES condone and promote such things, as evidenced by the NCMO.org-sponsored message board, where people with online nicknames like (and I am not making these up) “Pleasure Machine,” “Boobs4Every1” and “Future Porn Star” post messages with titles like “I want some lovin'” and “Foreplay action tonight.” One ambitious fellow named “Oscar Wilde” even asked if there were any guys who wanted to NCMO with other guys — that being another thing that’s not specifically mentioned in the Honor Code. (Oscar Wilde had several takers on his proposition, by the way.)

Many of these messages go far beyond the realm of NCMO, at least in implication. I wondered how many were serious about wanting to leave kissing behind and go straight for the real action. So I posted a message, making myself sound like a very attractive young man (I can write fiction, too; it’s on my resume). I got no responses. I then realized that this is because women are not horny enough (a problem that has plagued mankind for centuries). So I posted another message, this time making myself sound like a very attractive young woman.

Within 24 hours, I had no fewer than 13 responses. Some of the guys e-mailed me pictures of themselves. When I hinted in my e-mail replies that I (“Lori”) might be willing to go even a little further than NCMO, several of these guys were quite eager to oblige me — especially after I e-mailed them a photo of an attractive young woman that I found on the Internet and let them believe, perhaps because I said so, that it was me.

Was it fair of me to entrap these lustful BYU lads? Probably not, and if any of them are reading this, I hope they realize that in actuality, I have no desire to NCMO with any of them (though perhaps Oscar Wilde does). But it did prove my point, which is that NCMO.org is a dangerous thing, an enabling device that will surely lead to the moral downfall of more than a few BYU students. With only a little bit of prompting, these guys expressed desires to do some rather randy things. Give them an opportunity, and I have no doubt they will actually do them.

But of course nothing can be done to shut down the site, because its owners do not condone nor promote such activities, and we have that whole “freedom of speech” thing anyway. So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, that’s what I say. I have started my own site for people who want to do other things that are not expressly forbidden by the Honor Code, such as stabbing your eyes out with hat pins and sleeping in gasoline-soaked pajamas. Go to [here was the URL of a no-longer-functioning web page] to post messages about the sort of non-forbidden activities you’d like to engage in, and we’ll see if we can’t arrange a connection between you and other, like-minded folks. Who knows? Perhaps one day soon you and I will sit down together, smash bottles on our heads, and eat monkeys. Not that I condone nor promote such things, of course.

For those not of the BYU community, "NCMO" is pronounced "nick-mo," and it is actually one of the more clever and useful BYU-isms the campus has ever produced. It's a term familiar to most, if not all, students, and prior to the advent of this Web site, it was viewed as a fairly harmless thing, as long as you didn't make a habit of it, and as long as it was with someone you at least KNEW.

Throughout February 2000, the NCMO Web site was all the talk at BYU. I first became aware of it when I saw a flier posted at my apartment complex. The flier said the Web site was all about setting up a NCMO date; I figured that was just a clever way of getting people to look at the site, which I assumed was actually about something entirely unrelated. Imagine my surprise when I found that the site was indeed dedicated to helping people arrange NCMO with strangers.

I was a little surprised by the crassness of the whole thing, and I found it all distasteful, as the tone of this more-outraged-than-funny column demonstrates. But I also figured it was a fascinating news story, so I notified the Daily Herald reporter who covers BYU events, and we ran a front-page story on it. The same day, BYU's The Daily Universe also ran a front-page story, which may or may not have come as a result of the e-mail tip I sent them. (I never confirmed whether they heard about it from someone besides me, too, or not.)

Soon the other Utah papers picked it up, as did the TV stations, and the site's owners had to "change" their policy, as discussed in the column. In reality, there wasno change, of course. The site's motto was still, "Bringing the world together, one kiss at a time," and there was still a picture on the main page of Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes kissing wetly in "Romeo + Juliet." And, of course, there was that appalling message board.

After writing this, I visited the site's chat room. What a desperate, sorry place THIS was. There were about eight guys hanging around, waiting for a girl to show up. When one did, they would pounce on her, saying, "Come over to Branbury Apartments and make out with me!" and just generally making idiots of themselves. It was an embarrassment to men everywhere, I assure you. I don't see how any self-respecting girl would ever go along with such barbarism, but some probably do.

The site went offline for a while, then came back, supposedly under new ownership. As of January 2007, it's a fairly legitimate-looking LDS singles dating site, though I gather "let's meet up for some NCMO" is something of an unspoken subtext.

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