Most Yalies detest the pretentiousness of Directed Studies. We kill brain cells by the keg-load. But to no avail; there are too many brain cells to kill. We’re smart.
Well … I got into Yale by some freak twist in the fabric of space time (ever see Brazil? That fly that swoops into the machine that causes a malfunction that causes death and tragedy – I think that same fly got me into Yale. I’m still waiting for the death and tragedy part.) But the rest of you, you’re really really smart. Like scary smart.
My housemate just lifted a pencil with her mind. And then sharpened it. Her brain is that sharp.
And here’s the trouble with smart people: smart people have smart breakups. We date with our brains, not just our bods.
On Thanksgiving, my housemate (the pencil-lifting one) and I washed dishes while two fellow dinner guests discussed Steve Martin’s most recent endeavor, Shopgirl:
“You know, I think that someone can be really great, and really attractive, and you can even fall in love with him, but he’s just not the right man for you.”
From two pairs of hands, dishes dropped, clattering into the sink. My housemate and I screamed into each other’s faces, laughed uncontrollably, and started convulsing like those dancers in Rize. The other dinner guests shielded their ears and ran to hide behind piles of leftover turkey. They had been discussing Shopgirl; we (telepathically) had been discussing our recent love lives, and it all amounted to the same thing.
Whether it’s commitment issues, emotional immaturity, physical insecurity, or all of the above, men (and women) at Yale struggle. When you put two people together, those struggles double, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Everyone’s got baggage, but to quote Mimi from Rent (yes, I liked the movie, I don’t care what you say): “I’m looking for baggage that goes with mine.” And when you’re like me, with limited edition vintage Louis Vuitton, matching baggage is hard to find. You can fall in love, you can try your darndest to “make it work”, but oftentimes the practicals get in the way. Jack Spade isn’t going to cut it. It’s a very nice bag, and you can be very happy together, but you clash.
He’s fine as a lover, but not as a boyfriend. We psyche ourselves out of commitment, waiting for the perfect match to come along: without the label you’re happy, content, in limbo but at peace. With the label, you swear uncontrollably, spasm fitfully in front of company, cry at comedies (Old School is NOT a tear jerker), shit all over each other (figuratively, people. Come on.), and flirt with every other boy more attractive than an oyster. So you break up. You’re attracted to each other, you have a great time together, you even love each other, but you both want something more, something different, the perfect wheeled carry-on. I tried explaining this rationale to an old friend of mine over pizza. (Ok, so it was my high school English teacher. Yes. I’m a big dork. I still hang out with teachers from high school.) He coined the term for me:
“Ahh, I see. One of those ‘smart breakups.’ Those never work, you know.”
“Wait, why not?”
“Because you still see each other all the time, you still like each other, and then you think it’s ok to… you know, have a little bit of fun.”
“You’re my English teacher, I don’t think you’re supposed to say that.”
“I’m married; you’re a college student.” (Only English teachers speak with semi-colons.) “We both have sex; let’s get over it.”
“Wow. I feel like I just walked in on my parents doing it.”
“I did that once, my mom was –“
“– BAKING COOKIES. Your mother was baking cookies and this conversation is over.”
“Your breakup will never last.”
“No, no, no. We talked it all out, we’re both on the same page.”
“Yeah, the last page of Maxim.”
“The sex page.”
“You read Maxim. You’re a dirty old man, you know that?”
“My wife says the same thing.”
“Use a condom!!!”
I shielded my ears and ran to hide behind piles of leftover pizza. I had been discussing my ex-boyfriend. He had been discussing heterosexual old-person sex. You have to draw the line somewhere.
And while I was drawing that line, my ex-boyfriend came up behind me and … well … “had a little bit of fun.” We lasted about five minutes without hooking up. And then we hooked up again. An hour later. And again. The next day. Eight times that week. It’s amazing what a break-up will do for your love life. When you break up with your brain, your body might not get the memo.
But you’re not dating. Oh no. Not for a while at least … until you try it again – settling into a pattern, eventually biting the bullet and calling each other boyfriend. And then you start swearing uncontrollably, spasming fitfully in front of company, crying at comedies (Biodome, what a tragedy), shitting all over each other, and flirting with every other boy more attractive than an oyster… well, this time you’ll even flirt with the oyster. So you break up … again … and you hook up … again … and become lovers … again. It’s freeing because there’s no long-term commitment, so you’ll probably hook up monogamously all year.
It’s like the first time a fledgling ‘mo gets in another man’s pants — it’s so exciting because it’s so not allowed.
How smart is this breakup if you’re not really broken up? I guess that was my high school prof’s point: It’s not actually a smart breakup, we just think it is, and that’s why it won’t last. It’s college, and boys are at their sexual peak. Sex happens. There are no life commitments in college. Except between frat-brothers. Or those four crazy married kids.
But the rest of us are just having fun for now. Gay men at Yale are perhaps the one breed of male that thinks too much with the head above the belt.
In the words of my “ex” boyfriend’s mother: “Don’t overthink it. Do what feels right.”
And while you’re doing it, use a condom.
Chad Callaghan wants a man who’s not afraid to cry during “Big Mamma’s House” or have sex on the kitchen counter after his birthday dinner.