Cal Stevens | Courtesy

Two, 198 and 50 are all numbers that mean something to Calvin Stevens, a Cal Poly business professor. While the numbers all seem to be inconsequential, they all played a major role in his life. See, Cal didn’t meet the love of his life, Nancy Nylen, on September 14, 1971, in chemistry class, but on show number 198 of “The Dating Game.”

In the 70s in Southern California, most young people knew someone who auditioned to be on “The Dating Game” –  it was almost a right of passage, the Stevens said. Before filming the show,  Nancy and Cal both felt like nothing was going to 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 1965-1985. The game involved a single woman asking three concealed and unknown bachelors questions related to her or hypothetical questions about their would-be relationship in front of a live studio audience. After thoroughly vetting her options she would then choose which bachelor to ask on a date. A multitude of celebrities also appeared on the show hoping to find their true love, such as Tom Selleck and Farrah Fawcett. 

Nancy and Cal’s show began like any other: with Nancy on one side of the partition and three eligible bachelors on the other. Cal was lucky number two (that’s where the number two becomes significant). 

Ari Lopez | Mustang News

Nancy recalls that she liked him “immediately” after Cal answered her questions, although they were tweaked by the show’s writers a bit. She chose him to go on a date with and from there they went into the next step: meeting Nancy’s parents who were at the taping of the show. 

They then went to dinner, started dating and, after seven months, the couple got married on April 8, 1972. 

As for their first date, that too was unusual.

Normally, the couple was simply sent to the movies or dinner around the corner. However,  even the showrunners could tell that Nancy and Cal had something special. 

Their official Dating Game date was set to be three days at a resort in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee about three weeks after their initial meeting on The Dating Game. Cal said that this was “a big deal” as it wasn’t just dinner. Cal and Nancy both assured that they had separate lodging and a chaperone during this time, as Cal noted that this was 1971. 

A photo of Nancy and Cal from the August 1973 edition of TV-Radio Mirror magazine. Cal Stevens | Courtesy

Looking back at 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 this just simply felt like the way that the couple was supposed to meet. 

The couple currently live in San Luis Obispo with their three children and three grandchildren. 

When asked about how they lasted 50 years together after their unusual meeting, Cal lovingly stared at Nancy and said that she was and is his best friend. Cal said meeting on the show “felt like that was the way that [they] were supposed to meet.”

Looking back on their time spent together, Nancy said the cliché that all couples in love say – that she wouldn’t change a thing. When asked about how the couple has reached their 50th anniversary, Cal responded with, “we are friends, we really like each other.”

When talking to their two daughters, both of their children said they realized that how their parents met wasn’t normal. 

“It’s like your parents are the original dating or the original reality TV star couple that actually made it,” their daughter Tessa Espinoza, the Senior Director of External Relations and Director of Development for Student Affairs at Cal Poly, said. 

Espinoza said that although her parents met on the show, “it’s really not the defining story of [her] mom and dad’s marriage.” 

Espinoza described the hobbies and interests that her parents shared, saying that “The Dating Game” was a means to an end. She said that they had to put in work to make their marriage and family last. 

Amy Goymerac, their other daughter and an applied voice teacher at Cal Poly, said that to her, her parent’s marriage was not simply one that started on tv and only continued despite it. She said that their marriage taught her love, understanding, compassion and patience. 

Cal and Nancy are currently still living out their love story, which includes searching for the original taping of the episode in which they first met. The couple has searched for the tape of show 198 for years, but each time it averts them. 

Cal was able to get in direct contact with a Sony vice president, but was told that the show was taped over since the show was recorded on a film reel, just a few years before VCR became the industry standard. 

The only choice that the couple has to rewatch their first meeting is if someone, somehow, has the tape in a collection. The couple said they hope to recover the tape before their 50th anniversary on April 8. To follow the couple’s story and see if there is an update Cal created a blog

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