Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
First, drink a drink with your friends. Go to pub nite. There, stand in long lines for beer and smoke cigarettes. Some people do not like the smell of cigarette smoke. These people will move away from you. This is good. Use this to your advantage to get beer faster.
A pack of cards is also helpful. Start with Cheers To The Governor. Save Kings for later. You don’t have to focus for Kings. Spot that dude who’s in your econ class, two tables over and armored with bros. Ask one of your friends if he’s gay. On recieving confirmation, sneak another look.
Do not walk up to him and say hi.
That would be a horrible mistake. He might not recognize you. He might not be interested in you.
Without meaning to, catch his eye. When he smiles, smile back. But there’s more to consider. What if your penis is too small? What if he brings you home and he takes off your jeans and he says, “Oh. Okay.” What if he looks disappointed? What if he has a huge dick? What if you pull down his pants and he’s got a meat cannon? A veiny tallywhacker? A throbbing love club? You haven’t been doing this for long. You don’t have a lot of experience. But that’s not the reason why you can’t go over there. Not really.
Take another drink. Take two. Feel your gut clench. It’s been two years since the thing happened and two years seems like a long time, but in some ways it’s no time at all. And your friends are lovely and you love school, and some days you wake up and aren’t afraid, but you still shrink from touch, from skin against skin, from all the commerce of human sensation—
Push back your chair and leave out through the exit to the garden. Stand in the garden with your hot skin in the cold air. Breathe out, your exhalation limned with blue smoke, wishing you could be a long way away in a place of greater safety. There is no such place. There is only the snow and the lights above and your body between.
After a while, return inside. It will be dark and very loud. Move through the crowd towards your friends. Encounter the dude from your econ class. Steel yourself as he puts his hand around your shoulder and speaks something inaudible into your ear.
Find a point of trembling suspension lodged in the bones of your chest. Wrap your hand under his arm where it meets his back.
Allow yourself to be drawn closer.
Feel his hands around your waist, his chest against your chest, and against your pelvis his—
That’ll do nicely.