So you’re back at Swarthmore for the spring semester, but something is clearly very wrong. You’ve been seeing ghostly figures appear and disappear in between bookshelves in McCabe, or in the corner of your room at night. Street lights flicker or burn out when you walk underneath them. You might be feeling like the Calder outside the Science Center looks more and more like a face every day, and its eyes are following you everywhere. Maybe some mornings you wake up to find that geometric shapes have been drawn all over your arms in ash, and when you try to wipe them off, your head hurts so much that you have to lie back down.
Well, it’s not an omen, and it’s not a curse. News flash, buddy: You’re crushing, and you’re crushing hard. But who is your mystery man? Take this quiz, and maybe it will get easier. (Remember! Don’t pick any of the letters more than once, for example, once you pick A for one question, you can’t pick A for any other question.)
- You get an email that a package just arrived for you at the post office. What is it?
A. The package itself is a massive cardboard box. Even though it’s so big you can barely fit it through the door of your room, it’s so light it feels almost empty. The only thing inside the box is a single playing card, the seven of spades. Puzzled, you leave it on your desk. Eventually, your roommate comes back. When they see the card, all the color drains from their face and they look like they’re about to cry. They leave the room and you don’t see them again for the rest of the semester.
B. It’s a thick yellow envelope that smells like a musty old book. Inside the envelope are twenty-six index cards; each one has a letter of the alphabet written on it in beautiful calligraphy. You take it back to your room, but the next morning, the letters that make up your name are missing.
C. It’s a CD-R in a plastic jewel case. It looks like something was written on the back of the case itself, but it’s been scratched out. Your name is written on the disc itself, surrounded by little geometric shapes. You put it into the CD drive on your computer to find that there’s music on it. The songs are so quiet you can barely hear them, even with the volume turned all the way up. At first, it sounds like static, but as your ears adjust you start to hear birds and people’s voices. It’s very peaceful, and you feel good after listening to it.
D. There’s no package, and there’s not even a post office. There’s never been a post office at Swarthmore. What were you thinking?
- It’s Friday night! It’s been a stressful week, and you’re ready to unwind. What are your plans?
A. You decide to check out what’s happening at the Barn. As you walk toward the porch, you see your roommate from freshman year hiding behind one of the trash cans. You ask if anything’s wrong, and they point to what looks like an empty parking space. You see that their hand is shaking, so you hold it. Your head starts to hurt again, and you notice a shape drawn on their hand in what looks like charcoal. You see that you smudged part of it when you touched them, so you apologize, but they don’t notice.
B. You decide to check out what’s happening at Paces. The room is filled with fog, and the sounds of chirping crickets are playing over the speakers so loudly you can’t bear to be in there for more than a few minutes. It’s actually not a bad party.
C. Your favorite Sharples bar is tonight, so that’s your first stop by default. Even though it’s 6 p.m., it’s completely empty. It sounds like there’s a band playing somewhere far away. You settle in the quiet room and look at the colorful painting while you eat. Something in the back of your mind is telling you not to look away. The music gets louder and louder, and your head starts to hurt again. You snap out of it to find that Sharples is actually full of other Swatties. The only thing on your plate is a six-sided die.
D. Nothing interesting is happening, so you decide to go to Cornell. You get a lot of work done and you hand in your problem set several days before it’s due. Very proactive of you!
- You’re out on the town, and you feel an unfamiliar wind. What’s it like?
A. The wind is coming from the north. It’s freezing cold and it sends a chill up your spine. You remember how once during recess, when you were in third or fourth grade, another kid pushed you and you fell into some mud. You ran back inside, even though it wasn’t allowed, and you took your clothes off in a single-stall bathroom and scrubbed them with soap and water. When you got back to class long after recess ended, your teacher didn’t believe you when you told her what happened. You remember sitting in class, wishing you had come back covered in mud, just to show her.
B. There’s a light wind blowing from the east. You remember how one day when you were maybe seven or eight, your parents had to go somewhere, but they couldn’t take you, so you spent the day at your Grandma’s house. The two of you sat in her living room watching TV all afternoon. You got hungry, but you were too shy to ask for food, so when she left to use the bathroom, you ran into her kitchen. You started rummaging around in her cabinets for something to eat, but nothing looked good. You were still searching when you heard the toilet flush. You panicked, and without thinking, you grabbed a box of uncooked spaghetti. You shoved it under your shirt and went back into the living room, hunching forwards to hide the shape it made and to keep it from falling out. You walked past Grandma and into the bathroom, where you sat on the toilet and ate about half the box. It was crunchy, but it softened up a little in your mouth. You remember how it tasted like burnt wood.
C. The wind is coming from the south. You remember a game you used to play with your little sister, when your Mom dragged you along on trips to the grocery store. You knew where they kept the scented candles. and you would close your eyes. Your sister would find a candle and hold it close to your face, and you’d guess what the candle was called based on its smell. If you got it right, you’d switch roles, and the game continued. Working together, you could make your way through all the candles in a store. You remember and you feel proud.
D. You feel like there’s a word on the tip of your tongue. It’s really bothering you, and the longer it takes you to think of it, the more frustrated you feel. Suddenly, you feel a gust of wind coming from the south. You look over and you see the word on a sign. The word is “Renato.”
If you didn’t get any As: your crush is DANIEL. Tall, sweet, breakable. Nervous and sensitive. Catalog reader. Doesn’t trust good luck charms or fortune tellers. No favorite foods, not yet.
If you want to tell Daniel how you feel, go into the woods and find the tallest tree you can. Stand so close to it that your nose is touching the bark, then look up and whisper your name.
If you didn’t get any Bs: your crush is LOUIE. A singer, a songwriter, a teller of tall tales. A kid with a lot to prove, especially to you, so break a leg!
If you want to tell Louie how you feel, find an object made of metal or glass that has some sentimental value. Take it outside and make a circle around it with salt, then leave it there until rain washes the salt away.
If you didn’t get any Cs: your crush is MINESS: Freak, bleak, unwashable. Bends but doesn’t break. He has long fingers, and he drinks lots of soda.
If you want to tell Miness how you feel, write your name as neatly as you can on a piece of paper, then fold it in half once as neatly as possible. Take your time with this and do not rush, it will pay off.
If you didn’t get any Ds: your crush is VITTORIO: Old-fashioned, gentlemanly. Tough as nails, but sweeter than a cherry pie. Don’t worry about his mean streak, it’s offset by a sweet spiral.
If you want to tell Vittorio how you feel, turn off the lights in your room and lie down in bed. Close your eyes tight and think about the last four digits of your social security number. When you forget what you were thinking about, open your eyes and turn the lights on again.