Year after year, 18-year-old women come to Yale in search of the two L’s: a liberal-arts education and some libidinous release.
Prep kids strive for Lehman and Lehman. Renaissance festival enthusiasts come for lyres and laurel wreaths, but instead discover liquor and their libidos. And then, eventually, Renfesters find festers of their very own.
Fester: a rankling sore; a pustule.
But love? Not so much. Since the advent of my Yale career, my love life has transformed from a tragi-comic one-act to an all-out theater of the absurd. An embarrassingly misplaced undergarment, a shattered vibrator, a broken ankle, a wounded ego: These are the casualties of my undergraduate love-struggle.
It all began during freshman Camp Yale — that first precious week of parentless habitation and endless Popov. This is the “euphoric” stage of Yale dating life, a glorious honeymoon period between you and every attractive boy you meet.
Then the uncomfortable reality sets in.
In high school, hook-up culture is limited by parents, curfews, acne and liquor laws. In college, often for the first time, we are forced to navigate the bedroom script of putting out and putting in and sleeping over and sleeping under and not sleeping at all.
Your one-night drunken mistake ends up in your “Biology of Sex and Gender” section and looks at you shiftily every time your TA says: “testicle” or “uterus” or “these are the signifiers of an actual female orgasm.”
Harder still, in these early days most students lack the close friendships necessary to discuss the finer details of confusing, upsetting or mad awkward romantic encounters. Or the absence of them.
Or the abscesses from them.
This is the dawning of the age of wariness. The allure of the Yale man evaporates and he becomes just a man. A man who, like every other human being, is very often prone to sucking.
The revelation quickly comes that many Yale gentlemen, as budding Masters of the Universe, are narcissistic, but at the same time, cripplingly socially awkward. The product of a decade of schoolyard beatings.
Then there’s the unsettling phenomenon of the senior-freshman hook-up. Freshmen girls are easily smitten with upperclassmen guys; they’re older, more experienced, legal (woot!), have singles and are single, oftentimes because of romantic failures with girls in their own class.
Because they’re creepy.
Not all, of course, but they’re out there. They creeped out their female classmates freshman year and so hunt down the new flock of freshwomen with creepy zeal.
Perhaps this relationship is mutually beneficial. Like hippos and those birds that eat the parasites off the hippos. But there’s the faintest hint of the predatory about an upperclassman’s enthusiastic pursuit of the Freshman Girl.
Early warning signs that a guy is a creepy upperclassmen:
1) He takes all the free condoms from the freshmen entryways and stockpiles them in his room.
2) He compliments you on your body parts.
3) He loves to bench press.
4) He quotes his professors in his papers. (This doesn’t mean, necessarily, that he’s sexually creepy. Just that he’s creepy in general.)
5) Every girl he hooks up with has the body of an anemic prepubescent.
6) He’s Facebook poked you and all your suitemates.
7) He doesn’t have any female friends in his own class.
8) He loves candy. Especially Chupa Chups. (Side note: Literal translation of Chupa Chups is “suck suck”).
An upperclassman hook-up does mean avoiding the logistical awkwardness of freshman doubles. Bunk beds are the least sexy of all freshmen furnishings. Even less sexy than posters of John Belushi’s face, and those cushions that are shaped like hugs. It’s just really hard to maintain attractive angles while you clamber onto a lofted mattress.
One time freshman year I lay in a loving (but PG) embrace on the lower bunk while my roommate was sleeping four feet above. When I whispered to my paramour something sweet and stupid and emo and embarrassing, my roommate, uninhibited by consciousness, yelled: “Jesus. Shut the fuck up.”
She, of course, has no memory of this event.
There are many perks to an upperclassman guy and his horizontal sleeping apparatus. But be cautious. Enjoy these first few months of Yale — the free-flowing alcohol and Yale-scale looks inflation. But beware the over-eager Senior and Junior before they’ve seen you, up-close and intimate.