Playing the field: dating in college

Alex Sorondo/Staff Writer

The first crush I ever had was severe, the sort of inebriating passion that makes water taste
better; I was totally, desperately, hopelessly smitten with this girl who, by anybody’s standards, was way out of my league.

I was six.

The girl had a different teacher and no way of noticing me except during recess, when both
classes congregated on the playground and students either split up into their respective cliques or moseyed off to eat sand in pensive solitude (I really had a classmate who did this).

After I noticed this girl for the first time I seemed to do very little but ogle her from afar and pity
myself (a tactic of courtship I’ve dutifully maintained), hypnotized by the grace with which she
double-strapped her velcro shoes, the Olympian precision of her cartwheels — this girl was a

Yet, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a six-year-old boy in want of a girl would rather
die than have the girl find out.

The swell of the heart, however, is hard to hide, so I confided my love to a single friend who, for the purposes of this story, we’ll refer to as Judas.

So Judas, as reliably secretive as any six-year-old, then confided my secret to a lone confidant of his own: the girl I liked.

She was, accordingly, repulsed.

After vowing to avenge my shame, I curled into myself and affirmed, for the first time, the
agonies of rejection.

I like to believe that I’m more mature and socially adept at the age of 21 than I was at six, but
aside from a broadened vocabulary, a considerable growth spurt and a great deal more hair,
I must confess that little appears to have changed; the most prominent consistency being my
apprehension about flirting or even just making small talk with extremely attractive people.

And this is supposed to be the great glory of college: shameless promiscuity, “cuddle buddies,” abounding hookups, uncommitted people of your own age all around you all the time.

There remains for many of us, however, a good deal of shame to be had with just the prospect of being denied. The denials themselves, which I’ve somehow managed to enjoy a great many even with my inhibitions, take many different forms: through a text, facebook, phone calls, handwritten notes, and if a middle finger counts as sign language, then sign language too; looking forward to the possible messenger pigeons. I’ve even dished out a few myself.

And there’s the key.

By this age, anybody you’re attracted to has probably fielded and rejected more advances than they can remember. Advances are, at this point, so common and inoffensive (for the most part) that, if not to forget them entirely, most of us can pretty easily dismiss them without thinking any less of the person who made it.

Or so I tell myself after a quart of wine, because whatever the logic you try applying to such
a delicate issue, when you’re risking a considerable amount of pride and maybe even the
comforts of a friendship, it’s not always easy to take action on the merits of the mind alone.

But this is college. Your romantic ventures, if pursued with discretion, will probably have little
consequence on your adult life; the same goes for the rejections. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever
again share the company of so many eligible contemporaries who find themselves in similar
financial situations, with similar interests and goals, similar burdens of work and school.

So let’s get out there and embarrass ourselves while we still can. Ask her if it hurt when she fell from heaven; ask if she’s a parking ticket and respond to her puzzlement with an allusion to how “fine” she is, then punctuate it with two snaps and a pelvic thrust (works every time, trust me).

If you like somebody, invite them out; arrange a study date or meet for lunch, have a drink at
Chili’s, play some pool in the game room. The opportunities are quick to disappear.