Awkwardness has long been a treasured hallmark of the social landscape of the college. Awkward social interactions can be found in classrooms, dining areas, dorms, and really anywhere that students gather. There is likely nowhere this awkwardness is more at home than the intra-college dating scene. In this new feature, we set out to both celebrate this hallowed awkwardness and exploit it for our collective entertainment. And of course, hopefully help form some new relationships along the way.
Unfortunately, that would not be the case for this issue’s dates. Everyone we set up on a blind date this week not only knew each other beforehand, but also had a well established non-romantic relationship with each other. Despite the disappointing lack of sparks, we were pleased we were at least able to encourage some students to diverge from their normal social patterns. We will continue to poke and prod our matchmaking algorithm/matchmaking algorithm writer and hopefully produce unknown matchups for the next issue, but in the meantime, enjoy the following accounts of the beauty of friendship.
Disclaimer: the dates are real, the quotes are real, but some details have been switched to obscure the identities of the students, and the names have been shamelessly stolen from famous people.
Warner Herzog ’17 and Les Blank ’17
As seniors, Herzog and Blank are familiar with the college’s social environment and dating scene. They’ve survived everything the college has thrown at them over the course of four years, and with months left until graduation, they have decided to branch out and have some fun before leaving the world of undergraduate studies.
Notably, the two have uneven experience with blind dates at the college. Herzog participated in Screw Your Roommate on two separate occasions although he failed to meet the partner of his dreams on either occasion.
“Freshman year, I was Kermit the Frog, and this year, I was an apple. I think Kermit was more fun,” said Herzog. “I mean, it was a good dinner, but not date material.”
Herzog even participated in a speed dating event recently, but he didn’t seem all that enthusiastic about this event either.
“I went to the Qdoba one last week. There were not a lot of people, maybe 20, but it was alright,” he said.
In comparison, Blank had never really been on a proper blind date before (it’s arguable that they still haven’t, regrettably). Although they participated in Screw on a couple of occasions, they had a partner at the time and were only looking for friendship from their Screw date.
“In terms of blind dates, both years for Screw, I had a partner, so I was just like meeting new people, and I really liked the time of hanging out with another Swattie for an hour and getting to know them, it’s really chill and low-key,” said Blank. “The closest to blind date I guess is just like dating off the Internet or Tinder, and I’ve had some good experiences with that because you get to talk to the person beforehand and I like that.”
The reason Blank actually ended up on a blind date arranged by the Phoenix had a lot to do with not being able to do Screw this year.
“So I wasn’t here for Screw, so I really wanted to do [something] like a Screw my senior year. I guess I’m not looking for something serious romantically, but I do want to meet new people because it’s my last year,” they said.
Herzog echoed some of these feelings. He also wasn’t really looking for anything serious and had decided to sign up for this because, really, why not?
“I mean, I’m graduating. Probably [not looking for anything] long term,” said Herzog. “Just being my last semester, trying everything. I don’t really have much to lose.”
The result of this match, it turned out, was that the Phoenix had inadvertently reunited two first-year hallmates. They had maintained their friendly relationship after they were no longer neighbors, but didn’t see each other as often, eating together occasionally.
“We might have occasionally grabbed meals after freshman year, but we haven’t really kept in touch a lot,” said Herzog.
In this particular instance, since Blank had recently been studying abroad, the two actually hadn’t seen each other in over a year and took the blind date as an opportunity to catch up.
“We get dinner maybe once a semester, so this was kind of like our [opportunity] to reconnect,” said Blank.
It turns out that reconnecting with an old hallmate was actually a fairly positive result for a blind date, and both individuals seemed pleased.
“It was fun. I was ramping up for a lot of small talk, but instead it, with those conversations, where you connect with someone once a semester, it’s interesting to see how things have changed over the years. We talked about politics, what we were doing after, and classic senior stuff,” said Blank.
“It was a really good dinner, we had a lot of things to talk and connect over,” agreed Herzog.
Both Herzog and Blank actually mentioned anticipating the possibility of a much worse outcome. With random matchmaking on a small campus, the probability you’ll end up with someone you know if fairly high. Unfortunately, the probability you’ll end up with someone you know and don’t like is also higher than is comfortable.
“I just didn’t want it to be someone I knew who didn’t like me for whatever reason or someone I didn’t know that I’m not jiving with. It wasn’t either of those, so that’s good,” said Herzog.
“I was preparing for worst case scenarios. I was like, ‘How do I get out of this if really don’t want to sit through dinner with this person? Or if I know things about them?’ Before every first date, I look up first date tips. I’m always Googling that. But also, I knew I wasn’t really looking for anything serious. Also, you know how I soothed myself? I was like, ‘No matter what, it’ll just be a Swattie.’ It’s usually not a lot of pressure honestly,” added Blank.
Although there are certainly much worse outcomes from a blind date then an impromptu reunion, Herzog pointed out there are also much better possibilities.
“It was good to see and talk to them again. I guess a good side to that is that if these two people had been interested in each other romantically when they first met, then this scenario would be a lot better,” he said.
If anyone has a long lost love that they’re eager to reunite with or a missed connection from two to three years ago that they still think about sometimes, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wayne Gretzky ’20 and Serena Williams ’20
As first-years, Gretzky and Williams were also motivated to get to know new people, but for opposite reasons. Instead of being in a position where the end of the marathon of academic deadlines is finally in sight, and they have a limited amount of time remaining to immerse themselves in Swarthmore culture and traditions, they’re in a position where they’ve been at the college for almost a semester and a half and have met a whole lot of people, but they still have a lot left to meet. They’ve gotten past the frenzy of new faces that is first-year fall, but are still interested in exploring new areas of the college community.
Williams participated in Screw this year, but apparently, neither loved or hated their date so much that they were unwilling to go on another blind date.
“I did do Screw. It was fine. It was this guy that my friends didn’t know and didn’t think I knew, but I did know him. But it was fine. We had a good conversation, but there wasn’t chemistry,” she said.
Gretzky, like Blank, missed Screw, and wanted to take part in this feature in order to make up for their missed blind dating opportunity.
“I haven’t done anything with Swat blind dates so this is a new experience for me. I actually think I went to [a speed dating event] during orientation with some friends, but if I recall rightly we left immediately because it seemed rather weird,” said Gretzky. “My roommate forgot to find me a Screw date. It was partially that, because I did want to that, he just forgot to find me one. Part of it was making up for that, and I’m just interested always in meeting new people, getting to know new people.”
Williams’ motivation for participating in this article was more focused on the pure entertainment value of the whole affair.
“I thought that’d be hilarious, and the worst case scenario is that I get a funny story out of this. Actually the worst case scenario is that it’s someone that I know, ha!” said Williams.
As first-years, Gretzky and Williams were both open to a much wider range of possible outcome from their blind date. While neither was entirely certain about what they were looking for, they were both accepting of a variety of possible results.
“I don’t know. I’m just trying to meet people. Obviously if I find something, I’m not going to stop anything from happening, but that’s not really my expectation. I’m just trying to make new friends, learn more about the community, and learn more about people in it,” said Gretzky.
“I have no idea. Anything. Don’t say that, that’s so desperate. Someone who’s also a friend who I enjoy spending time with, who’s not just a fuckbuddy or whatever,” said Williams.
Despite Williams’ earlier fear about being paired with someone she knows, the date went fairly well although it may not have been much of a date.
“It was like just having dinner with a friend. It was nice to get to know her a little better, we had a good amount of time to talk,” said Gretzky.
“[It went] better than I expected! I had a fun time and our conversation was interesting if random and wacky at points — like when we discussed whether or not global warming would eventually bring Earth’s temperature to the ideal degree for dragons and whether or not said dragons would be resurrected or not. We also talked about ‘the Bachelor,’” said Williams.
“I tried to convince her to watch the Bachelor. She just didn’t like reality TV,” said Gretzky.
Gretzky and Williams had met during orientation, and had been friendly since meeting although eating dinner together one-on-one was not something they’d done before.
“We’re both in taiko together, we do a lot of music things. Not necessarily overlapping, but we’re in that area a lot,” said Gretzky. “I’d say most of the times I’m eating in a group, so it was one of the few times I was eating one-on-one with someone, but it didn’t seem like anything out of the norm. Honestly, it was just a great chance to get to know someone better. Hopefully that’ll be a stronger relationship now.”
Although there wasn’t any indication of wild sparks or passionate romance in this matchup either, they still have three more years together, so we haven’t abandoned the possibility. Even if their relationship continues down the path it’s currently headed and Gretzky and Williams remain friends, we’re happy to have helped them to get to know each other and have some healthy discussion about important topics like climate change and reality television.