Picture two hall mates.They could be Bob and Joe, Eugene and Edgar, whatever you want to call them. They’ve chatted a couple times about boring shit like classes, the weather, or their RA. Although they rarely speak on campus, they share a bathroom schedule, which forces them to nod awkwardly through foaming toothpaste. They’re both cute; Bob regularly flashes a wide, softly crooked smile, and Joe’s pear-shaped nose mellows out an otherwise angular bone structure. Eventually, Joe tells Bob over Grindr that he’s down to fuck, and despite a warm response, nothing initially comes of it. They continue to nod until one brisk Sunday morning when Bob suddenly registers Joe’s nipple, hardened in the cold, and his spine, gently guiding Bob’s stare down to the towel’s lazy drape over a sculpted ass. As Joe flings his towel over the curtain, Bob blurts out: “Can I cum in?” The reply: “Of course.” He steps through the curtain, and the rest is gossip. If I told you this was real, would you believe me?
Welcome back to “London Calling”, my glorified diary passing as social commentary. You’ve missed a lot in the past ten months, so here’s the short version: I completely fabricated a relationship with some guy I’d spoken to twice and was so public about it that he confronted me (that’s when I dumped him). Then, I called a boy sexually frigid when we were lying in bed together, which made him cry for a couple days. Most recently, a one-off hookup tried to finger my taint, which was a great summation of the whole experience: irrevocably awkward, mildly painful, and anatomically challenging. Overall, it’s been super fun!
Now that I’m back as a senior, or old as fuck by Swarthmore standards, I can’t help but reminisce about past figures and legends of this school even to people who don’t care whatsoever. It scares me that there soon might be no one to remember iconic couples that have long graduated or those elusive older boys of years past whom we loved for being just out of reach (Sean Conroe ’15, this one’s for you). The recollections are annoying, but they stem from grief over fresh arrivals lacking the mythical reverie of campus figures from earlier years. In many ways, losing these legends has stripped Swarthmore of a lot of its magic. In general, much of what was exciting and fresh when I first stepped onto campus has become routine, and it’s hard for me to feel as excited to be here and engage as I did when I arrived. I can only wonder: as we get older, does Swarthmore have to get old as well?
Initially, I’d be inclined to say yes. Swarthmore really lacks spice – in and out of Sharples. You might disagree, but I’m convinced that every frat party is literally identical, which is really scary if you think about it. I’ve grown bored of the unimaginative ways people turn me down, sending messages like, “I’ve got a lot of work right now” — as if that paper’s gonna stop them jacking off to a fantasy of their high school crush or best friend’s mom for an hour when their roommate’s barely half asleep. I’m tired of running into the same exes I’ve been nonchalantly acknowledging for years, not out of fondness or even discomfort but because I need to make sure they remember me when desperation forces me to try and get them back into bed. After all, cuffing season is approaching.
However, Swarthmore getting old is about more than it being repetitive; it’s also about the cycle of incoming classes losing its charm. Kids roll through, have their moment, and sink into our shared pit of irrelevance. Even exciting prospects can quickly turn sour as their novelty fades. Take this supposed hypothetical: I noticed a kid called Chad early on this semester for the simple reason that he sat next to me. It was odd; I’d been talking to an old friend in a social setting when I realized that he’d been there, immobile and silent, staring down and intermittently glancing up at me, or so I hope — it makes for a better story. I assumed that this was the closest a Swarthmore student would get to flirting with a stranger, so I turned over, smiled, and we got talking. I was into it. You’ll recognize Chad for having the same smile as Mr. Big– you’ll knows I’ve always had Carrie Bradshaw envy– let’s face it,if you’ve read this. Fun kisser too; he had very hard lips, which threw me off at first, but I guess it could have been illness — don’t lymph nodes swell up, too? Unfortunately, that’s as far as we got; it fell apart quickly with a searingly bad brunch date and a week of radio silence. It wasn’t even messy or marking, more like a new stain you get annoyed at and then forget about, like after a wet dream. The potential I saw in this incoming freshman was quickly dispelled when I realised that Chad was, after all, just a Swattie.
See, I mention this sexual blip to point out the contrast between its rise and demise. What started fresh and different– and notice how I consider someone literally sitting quietly a powerful flirt tactic because this school is so full of dweebs– devolved with all the signature marks of a Swat hookup: the patented awkward silence, unspoken hangups, inability to be emotionally honest without a prenup. I could have called it, and I bet half of you could have as well. Why do we even bother when Swarthmore makes us all clairvoyants?
Honestly, my answer feels dumb. I do have hope, albeit completely unfounded. I have this dumb belief that every new class brings a few interesting prospects and that long standing acquaintances can tip into something more if the mood is right. Who knows, maybe someone at this school is emotionally available. After all, I started writing again for two reasons. Firstly, to tell you that I’m sexually and romantically vacant and that you should follow me on twitter @katyagotrobbed. Secondly, because over three years after first collection, things keep happening to me and my friends: we’re still catching suggestive glances across McCabe, sending drunk texts on a Saturday night that we never regret enough not to do it again, imbuing casual discussions about workload with the profundity of gospel. We can’t seem to stop accruing more cards in our rolodex of past flings, lovers, and rejections for better or for worse. Do you want to be my next one? If so, the next time you see me smoking outside Kohlberg (daytime) or Beardsley (evening), come say hi. We could go back to mine, have a glass of wine, and see where it goes from there. Be warned, I do bite.