As usual, a few weekends ago, at about 2 a.m., I found myself at 21 Broadway shoveling pizza down my throat at a formidable pace between gulps of Diet Coke (as if that’s going to cancel out the calories). A close friend of mine and I had just returned from a night out, and it was time for the post-game wrap-up — ESPN Sportscenter gone gossipy. We were going over the evening’s plays. Who took a penalty shot, who traveled, who drew the foul, you know, usual girl stuff. My back was to the door she was facing (someone needs to face the door, how else will you see who walks in and what they’re wearing?).

In the middle of our “Can you believe thats” and “Did you sees,” her eyes widened and she leaned in close. “Holy s—!” she exclaimed. Oooh. I was excited.

“What? What?” I asked eagerly.

“Don’t look now,” she said (so obviously, I did a 180 and stared), “but,” she continued, pausing dramatically, “Melvin just walked in with the Up The-“

Editor’s note: As a matter of taste, we will simply refer to her as U-TAG.

(OK, OK, it wasn’t Melvin, but this is just to protect the identity of the guilty party.)

Before that night, I had never seen the U-TAG. I had no idea who she was, where she was from, or how old she was. I didn’t even know what COLLEGE she was in. But I knew that, to put it bluntly, her entrance was in the rear.

Melvin and she sat down at a table near my friend and me. He stared deeply into her eyes as they smiled at each other dreamily. I wondered what he was thinking about. Did he know that she was U-TAG? Was he thinking that later, he could try out the hypothesis? I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and ask her if the rumors were true. Did she REALLY? Did it hurt? But most of all, I wanted to tell her to run. I wanted to tell her that while she was thinking commitment, he was thinking something drastically different. But then again, I didn’t even know her name, so I let the opportunity slide.

This whole ordeal got me to thinking. What do people know? Granted, rumors fly through Yale faster than you can say Dance Floor Erection, but how does everyone find out? And entertainment aside, (U-TAG did give me a bit of a chuckle) what is true? I mean, did U-TAG really take it like a champ, or is it all myth? Maybe U-TAG was only bagged once, and her boy not only happened to have an incredible imagination, but also an incredibly big mouth. Or maybe, someone just really, really hates her.

How do reputations form? I broached the subject with my girlfriends over dinner. Needless to say, everyone participated wholeheartedly in the conversation.

Sadly, girls think about reputation all the time. U-TAG might be a term that’s rarely used, but “slut” on the other hand is not. Everyone was eager to discuss why. The fact that a double standard often exists among girls and guys in this matter is rarely contested. Walks of Shame, for example, are appropriately named for girls as we bring a pair of sunglasses just in case, rain or shine. Guys on the other hand, trot home after a late-night tryst as if they have been asked to carry the Olympic torch. High fives all around.

After much debate and intense dialogue, we reached the conclusion that many times it all comes down to number crunching. HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOU HOOKED UP WITH? HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOU SLEPT WITH? How many, how many, how many. We went around the table, four, seven, one, nine, 18. Two a year, one a month, one a week, not since the new millennium …

Many of us had threshold numbers. “I,” declared one friend, “will NEVER, NEVER surpass five sex partners.”

“Five? Five?” snorted another, “try 20. Twenty is a nice round number.”

“Slut,” muttered the first girl.

Despite the varying opinions on the right numbers, there was still much left to discuss. What constitutes a hookup? Lines became even more blurred here. Answers ranged from the need to be horizontal to qualify as having “hooked up,” to kissing someone (upright). I tended to err on the side of kissing. My rule is that if tongue is involved, it’s a hookup. It doesn’t matter if it’s in your mouth, or … you know, elsewhere. In fact, it is possible (although some may find this shocking) that the best hookups involve ONLY kissing.

Hey — sometimes things get complicated when other body parts are involved.

Numbers and reputation become even more complex when we examine hookup interest groups. Some people have a fetish for athletics. “I’m working toward 10 lacrosse guys right now,” proudly reported a sports fan. She’s close to that number, and to be honest, I admire her drive. There is of course the football interest group, with swimming and soccer not lagging too far behind.

For those who prefer a less muscular build, but still admire the vigor and agility of athletes, sketch comedy groups are popular in some circles, and I hear that the staff of the Yale Herald is rather incestuous.

Still, there are those who argue that diversity is the key — after all, equal opportunity employment is very en vogue. Choosing a locker room and sticking to it, they claim, is discriminatory. I, on the other hand, think that interest group hookups make a lot of sense. The luscious build of a certain type of athlete, the thoughtful words of a journalist, or the witty humor of comedians attracts certain people, and thus, penetrating the group makes sense in a twisted sort of way.

In my research, I spoke to one statistician who, I think, is performing a sort of Yale census. She has hooked up with people in all 12 colleges, as well as people in six consecutive graduating classes. She has through-the-roof Yale spirit, and found that some of the most enjoyable hookups come from colleges beginning with the letter B during the month of May. (I’m just telling it like it is).

So, is her number too high? Or according to some, too low? Is it wrong to experiment? After all, we ARE in college. I am sad to report that, after much discussion and deliberation, I have no answers. The numbers game, it seems, remains subjective, as does how much you reveal or don’t reveal about your sex life. Thus, the only words of wisdom I can give out this week are: two, 10 or 20, I hope you don’t end up like U-TAG. That really sucks.

Natalie Krinsky wonders why more of the comedians don’t work out.