Dating at Duke

Ever heard about the old days? No, not the ones when your grandparents walked 40 miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways. I'm talking about the days when guys got dressed up for a date and brought the girl flowers -- when they took her out for a romantic dinner, maybe a movie, and then brought her safely home to her all-female dorm and wondered if they would get a kiss goodnight.

Welcome to 1998.

The days of Forrest Gump have passed us by, and dating -- at least at Duke -- is an anachronism. It's sad, but most guys today don't feel they have to pretend they're with a girl for any higher reason than sex, sex, sex. And surprisingly, a lot of girls have accepted the fact.

I look at my group of friends, and I realize that I only know two couples. The rest of us just dream occasionally and try what we can. We go to mixers, we wear tank tops and tight black pants and platform sandals, and we gyrate and strut our stuff on the dance floor. We sit around and wonder if we should call Mike or Jason or Martin, and wonder if Mike or Jason or Martin is thinking about calling us, and wonder why we're wasting our time wondering instead of writing our history papers. How often does anything lasting ever come out of all this wasted time? Not very.

First semester was a hormone-fest on campus. Frats threw parties every weekend, and the girls went all out for them (then again, it actually made sense to wear tank tops back then, considering the temperature.) Then I met Jon, and it all changed. Tiny in-house parties of five or six people took the place of massive outings, and going out every weekend lost a little of its shine. I was content to walk around in sweatpants and t-shirts and no make-up, because I knew that Jon didn't care. He would love me regardless.

Like I've said before, that lasted three months, and then I found myself thrown back out on the circuit. (Which isn't that bad -- I've certainly gotten to know a lot of people in the past month.) I'm not ecstatic about it, but at least it's given me a good perspective on dating, or the lack thereof, in college. So here's the deal:

First of all, don't go to a fraternity or sorority function expecting to meet your soulmate. Some do. Most don't. A small fraction of the people at these parties may be drinking so they can lose some inhibition and get up the guts to finally talk to the gorgeous blonde in the corner or the Italian Stallion with the piercing eyes, but most of them are drinking -- and getting drinks for their dates -- with only one focus, and we all know what it is. It can happen in a heartbeat. A random guy and girl are chatting in a corner, and the next minute they've disappeared into some poor friend's room. They emerge disheveled an hour later. Some girls may have to do the "walk of shame" in the morning, and nine times out of ten, it's after a frat party. So be careful.

Second, if you do happen to meet someone who seems to think with his or her brain, check him/her out. But don't fall for the act immediately. No matter how mature your date seems, you never know. Maturity and age don't always go hand in hand. Be especially wary of people with single rooms.

Third, if you do manage to develop a "relationship" with someone, think of creative dating ideas. Dinner and a movie won't always cut it. Take your date on a picnic, on a treasure hunt, to a club, to a bowling alley. Take him or her to Chuck E. Cheese's if you have to. But be inventive.

Fourth, don't despair. The right person will come along eventually, maybe not even in college. Most people don't get married in college or right out of college anyway. And don't give up on casual dating -- it's not that bad -- but don't be too wary of exclusivity either. Check out the situation. Date as many people as you feel you should. Don't feel bad about dating more than one person at the same time (note: more than three is NOT feasible.) Don't limit yourself.

And finally, a piece of advice for the guys -- flowers still work.

The Countdown 8/25/97

Moving in 9/1/97

Going to Class 9/8/97

Rated PG 9/15/97

Athletes Foot in Mouth 9/22/97

Shaken Not Stirred 9/29/97

Sleeping with the Enemy 10/6/97

Withdrawal Symptoms 10/13/97

Why Duke? 10/20/97

Par-ants Weekend 10/27/97

Halloween 11/3/97

Who Am I? 11/10/97

Travel Guide 11/17/97

Gimmee a Break 11/24/97

Thank You 12/1/97

Campus Camp-out 12/8/97

Apply Yourself 12/15/97

Rushing Back to School 1/26/98

Chi-Omega Land 2/2/98

Aply Yourself Part 2 2/9/98

Three Month Itch 2/16/98

School Daza 2/23/98

Politics and Popularity 3/2/98

They Came They Saw, They Choked 3/9/98

Dating at Duke 3/16/98

Weekly Update 3/30/98

Beep Beep 4/6/98

Extra,Extra 4/13/98

Room to Move 4/20/98

End of the Innocense 4/27/98

Help Me 5/1/98

The Last Hurrah 5/8/98