Around this time last year, I went to my first naked party. In many ways, the experience was exactly what I had expected. There was an upstairs bedroom where partygoers had discarded their clothes. There were various other nooks and crannies where paranoid guests — namely, my friends and me — who thought their garments were going to get stolen had discarded their clothes. And then there was a dark basement full of people wearing no clothes. A fellow YDN editor: Check. That kid from English 120 freshman year: Check. A number of my senior friends: Wait — what were they doing there?
The group of seniors stuck out from the bare-skinned masses. They moved with an awkward caution, the same kind with which I tiptoed around, the kind that screamed, “I’m a newbie nudie.” Their pupils darted downward enough to indicate that they’d heard about the no peeking rule but, just couldn’t help themselves. They came late. They left early. But they were there.
Many were there because they knew there wouldn’t be many more options for them to be there. As they went off to their cubicles, dropping trow wouldn’t be normal, cool or remotely within the boundaries of their Excel-powered lives. Going to a naked party was, consciously or unconsciously, on their bucket lists.
This was the precocious group that got this task done early in the semester. There would be more opportunities for those who had procrastinated, including a party days before graduation. Standing in that disturbingly humid basement, I prided myself that, for the first time in my Yale career, I had done my work before it was even assigned. Going to a naked party wouldn’t even be on my bucket list.
But as my peers in the class of 2011 have long since put their clothes on and ventured into the real world, I recently found myself wondering what was going to be my bucket list. Freshman year, I did a project where I tried to curb a number of bad habits that I had picked up at Yale, using a website called stickK to set up self-binding contracts. I gave myself a curfew, made myself exercise every day and said goodbye to Facebook, among other things. I agreed to pay $50 for every contract I broke. And I wrote about the whole process.
Three years later, I’m seeking to do exactly the opposite. I want to indulge in those activities that only college offers, from the raucous to the wholesome. From what I’ve heard, it’s not only nudity that doesn’t win you points in the workplace. There’s also no one offering you tea at 4 p.m. as you talk with famed politicians. There are few opportunities for inner-tube water polo games or Quidditch matches, and it’s hard to come by a bacon, egg and cheese at 4 a.m.
And as I steadily devise and complete my own bucket list, I again plan to write about my tasks, admittedly in part as another form of self-binding contract. The need to write about my experiences will force me to have the experiences in the first place. Meta, I know.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve told friends of this idea to write about a senior bucket list. One of them, Kate Lund ’12, liked the notion so much that she asked to take part. Kate and I make the ideal bucket list duo. We each have particularly striking inadequacies in our fulfillment of the classic Yale experience. I have never jogged (or even briskly walked) up to East Rock, while Kate regularly takes trips with Yale Outdoors. Kate’s never been to Toad’s; I haven’t been in just over a week. Neither of us can remember going on our own accord to a full-length a capella concert. We know; we’re sorry.
These are the obvious ones, but we’re also seeking some more creative ideas for us to do separately or together. Please email us suggestions at email@example.com. We’ll give you a shout-out in this weekly column, which Kate and I will take turns writing. And, given the suggestions I’ve already gotten from friends (most of which involve the stacks), a reminder: These should be ideas that about which we can write. So anything illegal probably isn’t going to work — the whole bucket list concept really loses its thrill if we don’t make it to graduation.
Just in case you were wondering, Kate’s been to a naked party too. And while neither of us has done the naked run in Bass library, the News doesn’t operate in the real world. It gives its writers and editors exam period off to work on passing their classes. And it gives its columnists an excuse to keep their clothes on.
Zara Kessler is a senior in Ezra Stiles College and a former editor of the Yale Daily News Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.