So midterms are finito and you’ve glutted yourself on Halloween candy — you might as well decide to become a waste of life for at least a week or two. I, for instance, have been in my PJs for so long that I’m just a couple of Playboy bunnies short of being Hugh Heffner. I’ve broken it off with academia and am carrying on a passionate affair with W (the magazine, not the Bush). Snoop Dogg is on WinAmp and Springer is on the tube.

Fittingly, at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning I was busy multitasking (sharing time between WAccessoriesFlash and the Springer “Make my hubby behave!!” retrospective). A critical battle for my attention was developing: Harry Winston rocks on the one hand (not mine unfortunately) and some toothless hick named Garth screaming “She ma’ bitch, I own that ho!” on the other. I’m a sucker for people using chairs as weapons, so Springer took the lead.

True to talk-show fame, Springer devolved into a deliciously absurd carnival of monstrous/outright criminal jerks and the women who loved them. My favorite was Shawn and his 17-year-old wife (and mother of two) Tanya. Tanya was mad not because Shawn brought other women home, but because she got kicked out of bed to accommodate them. “I ain’t SLEEPIN’ in the kitchen no more, Shawn,” Tanya warned, flashing “the hand” amid raucous woofing. Then Jerry stepped in and held Tanya’s hand as she tearfully explained how Shawn was her man and she would never ever leave him.

Let me guess: You want to be shocked and disgusted by this dirty little world of daytime TV because nobody really acts like that — at least nobody at Yale. It’s an affront to civil society, and you’ve never seen anything so vulgar and heinous in your whole life.

But really, you’re shocked and disgusted because — admit it or not — the whole repulsive episode reminds you of a little incident that took place last Saturday night. He “doesn’t like it when they sleep over,” so you ended up stumbling down Elm Street in a tube top and mules at 4 a.m. on a Sunday. Lee Press-On Nails aside, Tanya is you and you are Tanya. Springer is Yale, Yale is Springer. Your asshole boytoy gives you the cold shoulder, Shawn gives Tanya the cold kitchen floor. I don’t care if you ARE published in Who’s Who Among American High School Students — if one single fetish is capable of crossing class, race and generational lines, it’s that women will always let themselves be used by shmucks.

But why DO women go for jerks?

I decided it was time to conduct a little research. In my pajamas, of course.

First of all, don’t ask a nice guy why girls go for jerks. He doesn’t know. If he knew why and which jerks they went for he’d be one already. Your nice guy will probably grit his teeth and say it’s because girls “make no sense” and or are “gluttons for punishment.”

But you cannot explain away the Yale girl jerk fetish by claiming we are all just confused and incompetent. Come on boys, give us a little credit. It takes a lot of talent to keep up with classes and find spare time to screw up our personal lives as well.

And for crying out loud, girls are anything but fond of punishment. I flip out when someone hangs up without leaving a message. I have a special “pissy face” for TAs who forget to bring papers to class. I take smack from no one. Why should boyfriends be different?

Before going any further, this is a good place to describe your typical Yale jerk. He doesn’t have to pierce himself, and he has never spent a night in jail. In fact, the asshole in his natural state can be preppy, and usually is. He’s shifty and unresponsive to affection. He’s sort of like a vampire: he’s all over you after dark but disappears in daylight. He probably gives you the “what’s up” and head-nod when he passes you on campus, but never more. He talks about girls, not to them. His idea of a date is you dropping by his room with Chinese food and no panties on at 3 a.m.

So after all that pondering, here’s what I came up with: I think it’s actually BECAUSE we’re Yale girls that we obsess over the bad apples instead of picking the good ones. We don’t value anything that comes too easily, and boys are no exception.

Let’s say you go out to dinner with a guy. You hook up. He e-mails you the next day to say he had fun. That’s nice, right?

No, that’s not nice. The whole fun of the e-mail is the fact that you log into Webmail 30,000 times a day until it comes. But if he actually does e-mail you the next day, then it might as well be an e-mail from your TA (assuming they’re not the same guy).

Any sort of warmth or affection is totally exhilarating. Forget dinner — you’re not even asking for coffee. If he allows himself to be introduced to any of your friends, that’s a triumph. If he remembers one of their names, it’s time to start picking out the wedding invitations.ÊIt’s sort of the relationship equivalent of “dog years.” Every morsel of affection an asshole gives you is worth seven times that of a nice guy. A head nod is a hug, a drunken IM is a sober phone call.ÊBasically, you revel in making your relationship look like normal human interaction.

In the end, the incentive to pursue a jerk is like any other goal in a Yale girl’s life — it’s about beating the odds. As a hopelessly competitive Yale girl, I dream of the day that asshole will be MY asshole, still blowing everyone else off, but hiding beneath his surly exterior is a tiny soft spot just for moi. Then naysayers far and wide will know that I did it — I tamed the asshole.

Liz Gunnison sleeps on the kitchen floor. (Just kidding, Cam!)