Tag Archive: Advice Column

  1. Dear Dr. Lipschitz

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    Dear Dr. Lipschitz,

    I’m a freshman and am overwhelmed by all of the ridiculously stylish, put-together people on campus. It’s intimidating, especially because I come from a high school where wearing baseball jerseys to class was considered dressing up. I feel out of place. I don’t even own some of what appear to be uniform items on Yale’s campus, like those Sperrys….

    –Never Owned Oiled Boatshoes

    Dear NOOB,

    Believe me, your question rings true for an entire Yale Bookstore-clad horde of incoming freshmen. Even some of your peers who seem confident in their apparel — who still swagger with Hollister cargos and a jauntily slanted Sean Paul flat brim — might still secretly fear making some fashion faux pas.

    Before I continue, I should preface my remarks with two trite, but true, maxims: 1. it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it, grrrrrrrl (or bro)! and 2. clothing is a pretty powerful method of self-expression; if you want to seem too involved in physics lab/track practice/your most recent painting to care what you wear, go ahead and show your slovenly self. You should never feel uncomfortable because of the real or imagined disdain of That Girl on Elm. If the worn-out wardrobe is here to stay, you need to project a Love-It-Or-Leave-It ’tude and inject a little confidence into that off-brand-sneakered step.

    However, if change cannot come from within, nothing buys a little confidence like a journey to J.Crew. And I don’t believe that it’s necessarily a betrayal of self to enhance/completely overhaul your closet (especially if coming out of one, in which case it is, in fact, expected). Let’s face it: most of us make a few self-presentational tune-ups depending on our environment. Just as you would leave your elbow patches at home for a night at Toad’s and forego the fishnets for section, you’ll probably want to adjust to the Yale sartorial scene as you see, uh, fit.

    You’re not obliged to wear anything, NOOB — from boatshoes to boxers, it’s up to you. I mean, you can’t be naked in public places here — except for Bass Library during exams, that time on the Women’s Table, or basements on Lynwood on most weekend nights.

    But regardless of obligation, the judgment is real. Step too far outside the Yale dress code and no doubt, you’ll be met with some icy stares in the halls of LC. Leave your flannel and Woody Allen glasses at home, and you best not try to get past security at the Art and Architecture Library.

    The fact remains that we don’t live in a clothing-blind society. Sometimes the only way to get past the “bouncer” at SigEp — okay who am I kidding — the “bouncer” at Toad’s — no alright but seriously — the “bouncer” at the Lizzy, is to lower your neckline and don the push-up. If you want to wear cords, a collared shirt, and — some people think it’s too much but — a tweed blazer, NOOB, go wild. I’ll come right out and say it: I’d wear that. And I think Sperrys are pretty damn cute. But whether you splurge on the brown or navy pair, any confident, well-dressed person (introspective, interest in social justice a plus) is an asset to Yale. And any way you run with it, you’re sure to be as well.

    But please NOOB, just don’t look like you’re trying too hard — the folks in A&A already have that covered.

  2. Dear Dr. Lipschitz

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    Dear Dr. Lipschitz,

    There’s this girl I’ve hooked up with a couple of times and have been seeing a lot, and I want to ask her out. But with so little time left in school, is it worth it? I’m really into her, but I’m just trying to weigh the benefits and costs.

    —Waffling Until Summer Starts

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    Dear WUSS,

    If you’re weighing costs-benefits, let’s look at this like a freshman in Micro. So if your life is a sunk cost — no, just kidding, I’m definitely taking Major English Poets, not Econ. But from an informal poll of the Davenport Dining Hall, 68% of respondents are optimists and say, “Why not?” Another 18% of respondents are defeatists and choose, “It’ll end in tears no matter what, so why not?” Overall, that’s an overwhelmingly positive reaction in favor of taking the metaphysical plunge.

    There is the other option of enjoying each other’s company now, holding one another close in the throbbing sunlight of spring, with the knowledge that it’s short-term and perhaps things will rekindle in the fall. To that end, an anonymous source and SigEp brother confided, “Make sure you break it off though. There’s a 50-50 chance it’ll be you, so don’t suck.” This leaves you free to a summer of romping down cobbled avenues, wooing demure Florentine gymnasts, and shotgunning pizzas in the bliss of singledom.

    Not that that ever happens. So if you do want to try a summer relationship, communication, as my ESL tutor says, is key. Be sure that the two of you are sufficiently well-adjusted to sit down and discuss expectations (no hookups on that Vermont cheese farm internship), boundaries (limit your drunk dials to two a week), and rate of progression (instead of letting it fester all summer, get your “I love you’s” out of the way early via tearful confession or over a romantic Wenzel).

    Evaluate whether you two have compatible communication needs. Some people want constant texts from their main squeeze. This works if you both enjoy knowing what the other is up to 24/7 and can abide inane back-and-forths of: “how u bbygrl” and “gud papi workin on da vermont cheddar now, how was ur bath?” Otherwise, the wait-1.5x-length-of-time-it-took-them-to-text-back equation is a linear regression toward constant frustration and internalized resentment. Or something. By the time you reach the passive-aggressive read-and-don’t-respond, it might already be too late.

    Although this brings up one more caution: avoid the pitfall of taking candid communication too far — that is, staying in and talking about your relationship until one of you throws up. Sometimes flying by the seat of your Nantucket Reds is fun. So, you know, be respectful, keep it in perspective, and enjoy yourself.

    Oh, and if you’re a senior, disregard all of this. What the hell are you thinking?

  3. Dear Dana

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    Dear Dana,

    My friend (let’s call her Nancy) is in love with her best friend (let’s call him Sam). They are like soulmates and share their deepest thoughts and feelings, and it is obvious to everyone that they are meant for each other. Unfortunately, Sam won’t go out with Nancy because he is a sexually-repressed Catholic. (Yes, he went to an all-boys Catholic school where he was brainwashed by nuns.) What should Nancy do to “encourage” the next step in her relationship with Sam?


    Hopeful Cupid

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    Dear Cupid,

    Nancy should adopt an approach that aggressively targets the source of the problem: Sam’s adherence to religious doctrine. She needs to persuade him that being in a romantic relationship with her is not a violation of his beliefs. The best way to do this is to convince him of her own religiosity.

    Nancy should start by asking Sam to pray with her every day, for extended periods of time. The key here is endurance. Even if Sam starts to hint that his joints are aching or that he has to leave for a meeting or that he desperately needs to take the medication that prevents his lungs from collapsing, Nancy should not relent. Sam will eventually be so impressed by her spiritual devotion that he probably won’t even notice that his legs are beginning to develop gangrene.

    Nancy should also take advantage of extant religious imagery to further her case. The Virgin Mary, as one of the holiest figures in Christianity, is revered by all Catholics. Nancy should start emulating her in both manner and dress. She ought to wear multiple shapeless cloaks at all times and make sure to clasp her hands and look mournfully at the sky whenever she is seated. All questions directed at her should be answered in Hebrew. It would also be helpful to keep a book light hidden in the folds of her clothing so that she can emit a holy glow wherever she goes. When Sam observes the uncanny similarity between Nancy and the mother of Jesus, he will not be able to help the upwelling of divine love in his breast.

    Finally, if Sam remains at all hesitant, Nancy should roll out a religious vision. The next time she and Sam are together, she should suddenly break off their conversation, stare blankly for several minutes, and then awaken gradually from her trance, bearing a look of wonder upon her face. When Sam asks her what happened, she should tell him that she just received a message from the Angel Gabriel, who revealed that she should join with Sam in blessed union, or risk the horrors of a plague spreading over both their hometowns. Once Sam is confronted with this divine mandate, he will have no choice but to sanctify his feelings for Nancy.

    Go forth and help them multiply,


  4. Dear Dana

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    Dear Dana,

    I’m a freshman in an upper-level seminar that is taught by a preeminent professor and full of confident upperclassmen. I do all the work and am very interested in the material, but I’m often too intimidated by my classmates and my professor to participate. Four classes have already passed, and I still haven’t said a word! How can I stop feeling threatened by my peers and get my opinion out there?


    Frightened Frosh

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    Dear Frightened,

    Your problem is one that plagues Yale students of every age. Fortunately, there are several easy fixes. If you want your point of view to be respected in a class that contains a lot of seasoned, self-assured seminar-takers, it’s important to make your presence known. With your classmates cowed into silence, you will gain the confidence necessary to make your voice heard.

    To this end, I recommend some tips for intimidating your peers so that you have room to air your beliefs. First, decide beforehand what you are going to say in class the next day. Practice your beloved comment whenever you get a chance — in line at the dining hall, in the bathroom in LC, even during the awkward silences in Physics section. By the time you arrive at the seminar, you will astound your classmates when you utter with aplomb, “I thought the part about his past was really interesting.”

    Second, after you’ve dropped your perfectly rehearsed comment, you have to make sure no one disagrees. If a classmate you particularly dislike makes an inane rebuttal, interrupt her by picking up your phone and announcing that the author (dead or alive) is on the line and completely disagrees with what she just said. If she seems dubious, offer to hand her the phone but then explain that the author has hung up because he can’t bear to come in contact with her idiocy.

    Finally, if these strategies don’t seem to be working, bring in as many obscure translations of the book as possible. Tear out enough pages from each version so it will be clear they are missing. When people point out their absence, tell them that you ate the missing pages so you could better absorb the material.

    These fast tricks should quickly earn you the awed silence you deserve, Frightened. Be careful not to throw up all that paper — but get ready to spew brilliance!

    You’re welcome,


  5. Ask Mangy Mark!

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    This week, Mangy Mark is out sick. However, Mrs. Nuñez’s 3rd grade class at Ridgeway Elementary School has generously offered to paint a mural to answer each of our reader’s questions. Thanks kids!

  6. Ask Mangy Mark!

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    Dear Mangy Mark,

    The other day my bike got stolen, which sucks because I used to ride it everywhere — to the library, to G-Heav, and, most importantly, to my 9 a.m. Orgo lecture up Science Hill. Now, I have a really hard time getting up there in time, and I always arrive both late and sweaty from running so hard. My parents won’t let me get another bike, because they say it’ll just get stolen again. What should I do?

    —Bikeless in Branford

    Dear Bikeless,

    Have you checked out Yale’s complimentary shuttle service? It starts running at 7:20 a.m. and continues till 6 p.m., and all three routes go up Science Hill. They’ve also got this sweet online map where you can see exactly where the shuttles are in real time. So you don’t even have to wait!

    Or, you could send me an e-mail describing your bike and exactly where it was stolen, and I can get in touch with my buddy Brian, who’s sort of a go-to guy for this kind of thing. He’s really good at tracking things down (like people that owe you rent and stuff). If he finds your bike, though, we’re gonna have to get it back. Do you have any large friends? Let me know. We’ll have to get a car, so we can just drive up and grab it and then drive away really fast. It’ll have to have a big trunk so the bike will fit. And maybe bulletproof glass and, like, flamethrowers in the headlights…. Actually, you know, me and Brian can probably take care of this. I’ll give you a call in the next couple days when we have your bike back.

    —Mangy Mark

    Dear Mangy Mark,

    Lately, things have been tense between my girlfriend, Emma, and me. She does a lot of theater, but she feels like I’m not supportive enough of her interests. Just last week, for example, she told me that if I really loved her, I’d explain to her whether the linguistic relationship between Nora and Torvald in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House was more closely aligned with Wittgenstein’s theory of the “Language Game” or J.L. Austin’s “Performative Utterance” paradigm. I told her that I would do anything for her, but that I have too many other things on my plate this week to be able to answer her question as thoughtfully as she deserves. I asked her for an extension, but she said no, and that I had to give her an answer in no fewer than 1,500 words by Friday at noon or else she and I are finished for good. Like I said, I’m crazy about her — I just don’t want to say the wrong thing, because it might really hurt her feelings. What should I say? If you could send me a response by Thursday night so that I can proofread it and add footnotes before giving it to her, that’d be great.

    —Heartsick But Hopeful

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    Dear Heartsick,

    Maybe you can find a way to date Emma Credit/D/Fail?

    —Mangy Mark

  7. Ask Austin

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    Dear Austin,

    I’m a freshman in Saybrook (SAY WHAAAT?!), and I have a problem. After graduation, my high school girlfriend and I decided to stay together in college. We love each other and share a special bond—we even exchanged promise rings at the end of senior year. Recently, however, it seems as though everyone is telling me I should end it, but I’m in love! Do you think a long-distance relationship is destined to fail?



    [ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”272″ ]

    Dear John,

    First off, take a hint (see above).

    Second, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your partner. As we all know, love’s total bullshit anyway, just arbitrary neurobiological firings about as meaningless as an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Too much serotonin in the frontal lobe, or something. Seriously, look it up.

    That said, to apply an old pearl of ghost-riding wisdom here, it’s a smooth ride until you hit a speed bump. Which is to say, everything will be cool … until it’s not. You’ll talk on the phone every night and follow a meticulously equitable visiting schedule until one day, your girlfriend—for argument’s sake, let’s call her Julie … Enwright … from White Plains—will call your cell phone while you’re in the bathroom, and your totally, absolutely-only-friendly female friend—let’s call her Erica … from the entryway over…with the cute accent—who was just in your room to study for your art history midterm, and that’s it, you swear, picks up the phone.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking: “This is fixable,” right? Absolutely. Most of the time, all that’s needed when you have scuffles with a significant other is a little good old-fashioned communication. Which would be fine, unless she doesn’t pick up your phone calls, leaving you with no other recourse than to take a six-hour train ride to iron this all out in person, but all you really end up doing is standing out in the rain with a box of Jujubes (her favorite), catching a glimpse of her in her bedroom window as a pair of unfamiliar hands reaches around her torso and firmly squeezes her breasts, leaving you to take the six-hour train ride back, alone, sobbing and pounding down Jujubes even though you always hated them and only bought them because you knew she loved them even though they’re gross.

    So no, I don’t think long-distance relationships are destined to fail, provided that when you say “long-distance relationship,” you don’t mean “a relationship sustained over a long distance.” Like I said, honesty and communication. I guess.

    Takeaway: life is bullshit.



    P. S. Promise rings? Really?

  8. Frank Wilczek: Physics for Poets

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    Frank Wilczek is a physics professor at MIT and a Nobel Laureate. He recently visited Yale to deliver two lectures: “The Origin of Mass and the Feebleness of Gravity” and “The Universe is a Strange Place,” and he took time out to speak to the Magazine about music, mastodons and the state of the cosmos.

    YDNM: The teaser for your lecture, “The Universe is a Strange Place” describes the “building blocks of matter” as “Music of the Void.” If “Music of the Void” were a band, where would their CDs be sold?

    (Laughing) Everywhere, everywhere!

    YDNM: What genre of music would “Music of the Void” play?

    It would probably sound like John Cage: wild events interrupted by long silences.

    YDNM: That’s very poetic. Would you buy the CD?

    You would have to buy it. It’s all around.

    YDNM: Do you think “Music of the Void” would be a good band name?

    Yes, I wish I had thought of that.

    YDNM: Have you ever played in a band?


    YDNM: Oh! What do you play?

    Well, when I was in a band in high school, I played drums. But now I play piano. I also play the accordion quite a lot.

    YDNM: The accordion?


    YDNM: Did you always want to be a physicist? Did you consider other professions or was it always very clear that physics was what you wanted to do?

    No, it was definitely not clear. I knew from a very early age that I was going to do something that involving mathematics. Actually, as an undergraduate I was fascinated by neurobiology, but when I started to study that at the University of Chicago, it became clear to me very rapidly that the field wasn’t ready yet for a math model. The action was really in a laboratory, but I didn’t have the talent or patience for lab work, so I wound up majoring in mathematics and even starting graduate school in mathematics. But mathematics was so interesting that I felt I had to drop everything. Fortunately, the physics building was right next door to the mathematics building, and when I wandered over the physics building, and it was clear that very exciting things were happening there.

    YDNM: You have won many, many awards. If you could invent an award and win it, what would it be?

    My awards have been for highly theoretical work, but I fantasize about creating an invention that would help people in their everyday life. I would like to win a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. But I’m not nominating myself.

    YDNM: Back to your research, you proved that energy gives rise to mass, and this happens as particles make a transition from something active and unstable to something more stable. Do you think the massless particles may have some adjustment issues?

    Oh yes. They have a lot difficulty in determining how to settle down and resolve their instabilities.

    YDNM: Do you ever find yourself anthropomorphizing particles?

    Well, humans have a lot of excess baggage that’s really not relevant to how particles behave. But part of the art of physics is trying to think about how things behave in a way you can visualize and play with without going through the very laborious process of actually solving the equations.

    YDNM: I’m just going to do a quick word association with you. When I say a word, you tell me the first word or phrase that enters your mind. Mass.



    Hard to move.


    Frozen meat.



    It’s like…

    I know what it means. Well, chew. I was trying to think of something more creative, but that’s just the definition.

  9. Savor romance — not your Krispy Kremes

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    Q: My New Year’s resolution is to lose weight by eating less junk food. Everything is going well in the dining halls, but the trouble starts when I get back to my room. My roommate stocks the room with chocolate chip cookies and Pringles, and sometimes she even brings back a box of Krispy Kreme donuts. When I see her snacking on my favorite unhealthy snacks — and even when I’m alone in the room and I just know that the food is there — I just lose my self-control and start munching. What should I do? I want to ask my roommate to stop eating in front of me, and to hide her food when she’s out of the room, but I am worried she will think I am weird. What should I do? Should I buy her a lock box and give her the only key?

    — Incurable Muncher

    A: Dear Incurable —

    Before messing with your roommate’s eating habits, take a minute to analyze your own. Try to think about exactly what makes the dining hall setting different from that of your room. Does something about being around lots of people make you eat healthier? How does your mindset change back in the dorm? Think about how you are able to have self control in one place and not in the other. When you relax by lounging around your room in your pajamas, do you begin to relax your eating standards as well? Maybe if you can figure out what little mental tricks keep you from munching on apple cranberry pie in the dining hall, you can avoid the Pringles in your room.

    If you absolutely cannot stop yourself from eating your roommate’s food, you will need to suck it up and reveal your problem to her. It’s not fair to ask your roommate to change her eating habits. If she’s eating her fatty snacks when you are in the room, and it’s driving you crazy, try taking a refreshing walk around the block to distract yourself — and burn calories in the process. Now, about those times when your roommate isn’t eating, and it’s just you and the cookies and donuts. This brings us back to the lock box option — not a bad idea; definitely an extreme measure, but also an effective solution. If it comes down to the lock box, you will have to accept the fact that, yes, your roommate probably will think you are a bit weird. But honestly, even you know it is a bit weird to ask someone to put their munchies in a lock box. If you provide the box and key for your roommate and have a good sense of humor about the whole matter, I am sure your roomie will happily lock up her treats.

    Q: I have been dating “Joe” for almost two years. Everything is fine between us — we are totally in love with each other. There is just one problem. Joe is the most unromantic guy on the entire Yale campus. Last year he forgot Valentine’s Day. Not even one piece of chocolate for me. We never go on dates, or eat anywhere nice. He never gives me little presents, or writes me sweet notes. It’s not that Joe’s cheap — when I suggest an expensive place to eat, he’s happy to go (although I am sure he wouldn’t realize to pay for me unless the waiter put the bill in front of him!), and when I told him I wanted a Tiffany’s necklace, he got it for me. With Valentine’s Day so close, I am feeling really worried that Joe will forget again. Should I drop hints? How can I make Joe start being romantic on his own?

    — Romantically Deprived

    A: Dear Romantically —

    You need to slow down and think for a minute! You just told me that you and Joe are totally in love with each other. How do you know that he loves you? Reflect on your relationship with Joe: He must be doing something to show you that he is in love with you! You may be missing out on candlelit dinners and Hallmark cards, but if being totally in love isn’t romantic, I don’t know what is.

    Now, that said, there is the Valentine’s Day issue to consider. A boyfriend forgetting February 14th once is possibly forgivable. But ignoring it a second time is simply unacceptable. However, given Joe’s track record of responding eagerly to your prompts, there is an easy solution to your romance woes. Tell Joe you have a late holiday gift. Then, present Joe with a very special belated present — a personalized calendar! (If Joe forgets Valentine’s Day, I figure it’s a safe assumption that your man does not own a calendar.) Personalize the calendar by writing little instructive messages on the days that are most essential for Joe to remember — birthdays, anniversaries, special holidays. For instance, “February 14th: Valentine’s Day! The perfect day to bring roses and chocolates to your loved ones!” or “May 7th: 3-year anniversary with my girlfriend, who loves to go out for sushi on special days!” To make these conspicuous instructions blend in a bit more, you can write little messages on some random days — i.e. “March 2: On this day last year, we went skiing!” When you give Joe the calendar, tell him to check his calendar daily for messages from you. You will not have to remind Joe to be romantic or drop him any hints, because the calendar can do it all. Joe’s romantic gestures may not count as 100% his own — but at least he won’t be forgetting Valentine’s Day again!

    Alison Bloom-Feshbach wants to answer your questions. Really. We’re not joking.

  10. Is DKE your second home, or is it just Greek to you?

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    Q: How do you feel about Greek life at Yale? Is Greek life well represented and/or well publicized (fraternities versus sororities)? Do many social events revolve around Greek life? Do you feel that Greek life is a part of the college experience [at Yale]? Please include any other thoughts you have on Greek life at Yale.

    Jenevieve Lee JE ’06: “Fraternities are a presence, but certainly not the a very big presence on campus. Their late nights and themed parties draw a regular crowd. But other than throwing parties, fraternities don’t seem to have much of a presence in any other department. Well as far as I know. Sororities, on the other hand, are nowhere to be seen. They have an — invisible presence on campus? If I didn’t have a suitemate who was in one, I would have never have guessed they existed here.”

    Roger Eduardo JE ’06: “UUUUMMMMM, yeah, Greek life at Yale — here’s what I know about it — Costas and Gerasimos — that’s about it — And do you think Trinidadian life is well represented at Yale??


    Michelle Weitz JE ’06: “I don’t know anything about Greek life! I hear about parties, but I never go to them. I hear some of them are really, really good and some of them are really, really bad. It seems to be hit and miss — the same fraternity will throw a really good party or a really bad party. It seems to depend on the people that go to it. I am still clueless about what fraternities do outside of giving parties. I don’t think it’s that well represented because I only see things about it on little white paper flyers taped to the pavement on Old Campus. It doesn’t seem to be a big part of college experience, it’s just something out there that other people do and I never seem to be around them.”

    Laura Gutowski BR ’07: “I think Greek life at Yale is an important factor in getting kids a chance to have fun instead of studying all the time. Many non-Greeks attend Greek parties, but they are only well publicized to those on the fraternities lists and their friends. Many Yale students are not even aware that there are sororities on campus. Some, but not many, social events revolve around Greek life, mainly at Late Night Parties to end the night. Greek life by no means has to be part of the college experience at Yale like it is at many other schools, but it certainly can be if you want it to. Particularly for underclassmen, it is a great way to quickly meet many new people.”

    Questions and answers compiled by Jean Clemente ’06.

  11. Get to the heart of things, even if it’s a cheatin’ one

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    Q: I am a freshman, and I have been having lots of trouble figuring out the fraternities at Yale. First of all, where is “frat row?” Whenever I ask people, they give me weird looks. I also get weird looks when I refer to “85” — but isn’t that the lacrosse frat? And is Sigma Alpha the frat with all the preppy boys? How about CCL? One of my roommates always goes there on Friday nights and ends up sleeping over. So does that make CCL the sketchiest frat? And what about ABP? Which frat is that? People always say “let’s meet at ABP” but I have never been there myself. Please help me — it’s too far into the year for me to ask anyone else these questions without getting really embarrassed.

    — Clueless about frats

    A: Dear Clueless — Let me start out by applauding your decision to write in with your questions — it is definitely advisable to stay anonymous in cases such as yours. I can assure you that all of your questions can be cleared up very easily. First off, “frat row” does not actually exist. While “frat row” was referenced in the Light and Truth freshman guidebook this year, which may have contributed to your confusion, this phrase is actually a euphemism for “frats at Yale are scattered around various different unsafe streets of New Haven.”

    Now to clarify a few other points: by “85,” I am guessing that you are referring to “ADPhi.” You will know you are in the right place if you come across a suspicious hot tub in the backyard. One fun fact I suggest you commit to memory: Fraternity names are derived from Greek letters (remember: letters, not numbers).

    You almost got it right with your reference to “Sigma Alpha” — the frat full of preppy boys is Sigma Alpha Epsilon. However, few Yalies will have the slightest clue as to what you are talking about unless you refer to the frat as “SAE.” But before you get carried away with three-letter abbreviations, please be careful! I can promise that you will never live it down if you confuse CCL with a fraternity. Honey, CCL stands for Cross Campus Library. Library. As in water fountains and whispers. No kegs and no noise. (On a side note, you were correct to be suspicious of your roommate who regularly sleeps over in CCL — this practice is definitely sketchy, as you so aptly suggested.)

    Now, onto your final question. Sadly, ABP is not a fraternity, never was, and never will be. ABP is the shortened version of Au Bon Pain. Though Au Bon Pain does not serve beer, you might have to wait in an annoyingly long line to get your drinks at mealtimes. FYI: People often “meet at ABP” because the cafe is conveniently located on the corner of York and Elm. You probably have been there —

    Q: My best friend from high school, “Rachel,” has a long-distance boyfriend, “Jeff,” who goes to Harvard. Over Harvard-Yale weekend, I saw Jeff leaving Toad’s at the end of the night with his arm around a Yale girl, “Sandy.” I don’t know for sure whether Jeff and Sandy hooked up, but Jeff was really drunk and Sandy has a reputation for being a slut. Jeff and Rachel are dating exclusively, so she would be really upset if she found out that he cheated on her. Should I tell Rachel my suspicions? I have always thought Jeff was kind of sleazy, so Rachel might think I was trying to mess things up between them. What should I do?

    — Suspicious of a sleaze-ball

    A: Dear Suspicious — First of all, the fact that Rachel has the poor judgment to date a guy from Harvard already shows that she might not be able to see the Jeff situation with proper clarity.

    However, before you set her straight by blurting out your suspicions, do some background research. Where did Sandy and Jeff go after they left Toads? Did any of your other friends see Sandy with a random Harvard guy after Toads? After all, you wouldn’t want to confuse a late-night snack at A1 with a late-night snuggle in the bedroom. Perhaps Jeff was being a gentleman and merely helping walk Sandy to her room (just because you’ve never heard of a Yale guy doing that doesn’t mean it’s not possible). See if you can identify Sandy’s suitemates. Does anyone you know have a way to get the dirt on Sandy? If you know Sandy at all, you could just suck it up and ask her point-blank if she hooked up with your “friend” Jeff from Harvard.

    If a week passes and you haven’t uncovered any concrete details, you are left with three options. You could let the matter drop, although this might leave Rachel clueless, you guilty, and Jeff untested for STDs.

    Your second option is to call up Rachel and lay out the brutal details. Place yourself in her shoes and consider whether you would want to be kept in the dark about your boyfriend’s possible infidelity. However, if Jeff didn’t actually hook up with Sandy, implicating him could wreak unnecessary havoc on their relationship. In addition, as you suggested, Rachel might reject your unsubstantiated suspicions and resent your intrusion.

    Now, on to option three (brace yourself!). Find your boldest friend. Search the Harvard directory for Jeff’s number. Have your friend call Jeff as “Sandy.” After thanking him for the amazing night at Yale, have “Sandy” flirtatiously ask, “So where did we go after Toads, Jeff, I am having trouble remembering –?” Does Jeff respond by stammering “your bedroom?” Does he sound annoyed and confused, replying “I have no !@#$%ing idea what you are talking about!” Catch Jeff off guard with bluntness: “Did you like hooking up with me?” Here is the key moment of analysis. Remember, a guilty cheater stutters awkwardly when confronted with the truth, whereas an innocent ol’ faithful angrily defends his honor. As soon as you have gotten enough info (assuming Jeff hasn’t hung up on you yet), “confess” that you are just messing around, and that Sandy has no idea about the call (after all, it would be unethical to denigrate Sandy’s reputation even more).

    I must personally recommend that you take the third option, as desperate times call for desperate measures. After the conversation with Jeff, you can reassess your data. Obviously the conversation proves nothing, but it can be instrumental in helping you decide between following option one or two. Go with your gut feeling: if you just aren’t sure, keep the info to yourself, but if a nagging inkling tells you Jeff cheated, expose the lying Cantab for what he’s really worth.

    Alison Bloom-Feshbach wants to answer your questions: write to alison.bloom-feshbach@yale.edu.