Tufts

Valentine’s Day is the holiday of commitment-phobia. Forced to mime the pitched perfection of a Hallmark card, many couples feel some small measure of doubt and fear along with all the lust and excitement. Is the cozy corner table at Finale’s a little too…well, final? Is the long weekend at the Berkshires a bit too real? Well, Harvard, we have been married to you for a while and always faithfully back in your arms at bedtime, but this past Sunday we too began to squirm a little. It was time to get out.

Tufts at first seemed like a perfect fantasy option, ripe with potential and waiting to spring to life. We had a friend who knew about a party—a big one, with frat-ish people doing keg stands all over the place, and thousands of girls just waiting to slay themselves at our feet the moment they first got a peek at our Harvard gear. After all, isn’t this exactly what happened in high school?  But we would brush away the siren fingers that playfully traced out the H’s on our jackets, knowing that on Valentine’s night, we would accept nothing less than true love.

Here is where a piece jointly written by a male and a female becomes somewhat tricky to navigate. If we seem to imply designs of some weird polygamous tryst, or appear to confuse our own sexualities, please bear with us. This is a bit difficult.

Anyway, we would find him/her somewhere in the haze of college revelry, and it would be love at first sight. That was how our night was going to pan out, no more, no less. Harvard, please forgive us.

The first minor problem came along when we found out that the party had actually been on Saturday night and that tonight our friend was going on a romantic date with his girlfriend. We sat mournfully in our common room where one of our roommates was having something of a singles’ soiree, and we asked everyone present if they had friends who had parties off-campus. At last, as 11 o’clock rolled around, we decided to just go.

Tufts is surprisingly close to Harvard—a $15 cab ride close—and logistically comparable in that it is also a private university with a medium-sized student body of about 5,000. Like most colleges and unlike Harvard, Tufts boasts a robust fraternity and sorority scene. With our hopes high about its Greek nightlife, we journeyed from the desolate, lonely streets of Cambridge to what we hoped would be the buzzing roads of Somerville. We had no idea where we were going, but it was an invigorating feeling to so suddenly recapture—the feeling of being a freshman, of being lost, of having blind hope that the night would absorb us and then spit us out into someplace truly new.

So, bantering in French with our cab driver, we eventually learned that frats were apparently the place to party at Tufts. Throwing all of our faith into the genial man, we soon found ourselves en route to frat row. As we drifted along the empty streets, we heard the muffled hum of what we hoped and prayed might just be Ke$ha. Desperately and sketchily, we leaned out the window and asked (demanded?  Leeringly yelled?) the first collegiate-looking bunch we saw on the street where we could break a move or maybe find a quasi-pseudo-valentine. They pointed—probably just out of fear—to the closest frat house in sight.

With our hopes high and confidence higher, we walked into the foyer. A few guys were playing Beirut in one room while a handful of others were idling by the stairs. The turnout was surprisingly scarce, but we now had a more urgent problem: our friend C. had elusively disappeared into the skimpy pockets of people and become our night’s Waldo.

We began our search in the small room that was serving as a bar. Three girls pirouetted violently on the dance floor while a frazzled frat brother nursed a paper cup. A collection of listless sorority girls loitered in the hallway, coats on as if about to leave. We sauntered past lots of rooms, some with people in them, none with anyone even close to making out. Oddly it reminded us of Revenge of the Nerds.

Suddenly, we glimpsed what distinctly seemed to be a familiar well-trimmed afro disappearing at the crest of the staircase, and we pushed our way through the crowd of three people in hot pursuit.  What fate had grasped C.? Was a fight brewing? Or had it been a feminine grace that had led him upstairs, and had he found true love? He was nowhere to be seen in the upstairs hallway. We began to feel great concern and a twinge of jealousy.

Debates are heated back at Harvard over whether the level of attractiveness goes up or down at other colleges. But all of this meant nothing when we first saw her standing there (again, please cut “us” some slack with the whole POV thing). Aqua-shirt girl— this is what she was wearing—was simply breathtaking. It was an intimidating proposition to approach her, but we mustered the courage to initiate conversation. She was a freshman, studying engineering—a model Tuftette. Her smile itself was everything the young night had promised us; her demeanor, though a bit quiet, was charming and kind. It might have been love. If you were waiting for some torrid climax to this story, here it is.

But just then, her vomiting friend emerged from the bathroom and demanded to be taken home. Also at that exact moment, C. walked in. He was absolutely fine, and we left the party.  Nothing had happened.

To be fair, Tufts made an effort. There was at least one more party there than there was at Harvard. And obviously, it was a poor decision to go out on Valentine’s Day, and for that we acknowledge the inevitability of the night’s outcome. Poor planning and lofty hopes rarely make for a rewarding night out. But then again, just getting out is sometimes rewarding enough.

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