HOLMES: A letter to the letter to the editor

To the would-be daughter of a Ms. Susan A. Patton, Princeton class of 1977 —

Relax your shoulders, stop twirling your hair. I am here to reassure you that your marital prospects are not as grim as your mother has painted them (in last Friday’s letter to the editor of the Daily Princetonian). As a female junior at Yale College, I sympathize with your desire to find a husband of suitable pedigree. However, your mother’s words of warning — that you must secure a groom before you graduate — are a touch outdated, and 36 years have altered the sport of matrimony a slight degree. You are lucky to now live in a society where the “virile plains” filled with men as voraciously smart as you stretch well beyond the billiard rooms of even the finest eating club.

To begin — your mother, Ms. Patton, claims that you, as a Princeton woman, have “almost priced [yourself] out of the market.” As any economist would tell you, the market is prone to fluctuation, and rest assured, you are not at the top of it. In fact, Forbes ranks your university only sixth in the world, while US News puts you all the way at number nine. There are clearly tens of thousands of women cleverer than you (those at MIT, for example), who face even fewer men who are “as smart or smarter” than they.

If you are unsatisfied with your spousal options at Princeton, have you ever considered a nice man from the virile plains of Harvard or Yale? A Whiffenpoof, perhaps? (I hear some of them may be still be straight.) While your mother may worship the sanctity of double legacy, I urge you to think twice about marrying another Tiger. Do you really want your entire wardrobe to be the color of a traffic cone? Your family will constantly be mistaken for a flock of crossing guards.

Perhaps your next best bet is to follow in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps: Go to law school to find a husband as smart as you. Or what about Harvard Business School, or Penn School of Dental Medicine? At the moment, nationwide graduate enrollment is over 1.75 million — it’s nothing short of a virile prairie! The caveat: As many as two-thirds of those students are women. Be sure to closely examine the gender ratios at graduate schools before enrolling, otherwise you could end up like Ellen DeGeneres, or worse, Frida Kahlo.

Your mother threatens that after you leave Princeton, “You will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.” Trust me — you already do. It’s called Internet on your smartphone. Sadly for your mother, she rouged her lips in the days of the supercomputer. Ms. Patton might be thrilled to know that concentrations of men (requiring proof of suitable pedigree) linger just a WiFi connection away. For example, take a look at the online “Ivy League of Dating” hosted by therightstuff.com. Only those from a group of elite schools may register, and a six-month membership costs a mere $75. If you are averse to online exploration, try out The Ivy Plus Society (TIPS), which invites the “smart and sexy” of 20 select universities to parties across the country. Founded in 2006, it is a place, as one New York Times writer described it, where a potential mate “will understand your allusions … to Sex Week at Yale.”

If, my dear Ms. Patton Jr., you are in your fourth year and still single, drop the self-pity and lift up your chin. The illustrious Ivana Trump created a reality show for herself called “Ivana Young Man,” and you can vana young man too. Demi is 15 years Ashton’s senior. If it’s acceptable for Selena to romance Justin, you can definitely ask out that sophomore in your Vikings class. Also, have you considered the SWUG life?

A last offer of advice: Date dumber. “Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent and less educated.” Why shouldn’t you? You ought to at least try it — in the same way you might try sushi, or fried tarantulas. You won’t know how you like it until you do. In the process, you may realize that your preconceived notions of taste quickly change, and that your brand of intelligence is as bland to others and theirs was unpalatable to you.

Sweet young Tiger, if you had been my daughter, this is what I would have told you as you unpacked that last box in your freshman dorm room and smilingly handed it to me to go recycle: You should have been a Bulldog. But now that you’re at Princeton, I will tell you this: Go and pursue what you love — whether that turns out to be a dying language, a controversial science or a spouse.

Tao Tao Holmes is a junior in Branford College. Contact her at taotao.holmes@yale.edu .

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