Fifteen Minutes: Body Politics

“Date a Democrat!” gal-pal Jean exclaimed, proud of herself for curing my dating dilemma. It’s true, quite a few Republicans
By Melissa ROSE Langsam

“Date a Democrat!” gal-pal Jean exclaimed, proud of herself for curing my dating dilemma. It’s true, quite a few Republicans number among my Ghosts of Guys Past. I like them because they behave like gentlemen, which is infinitely appealing.

So, now, if I date Democrats, do I have to marry one? Or can I do as Republican men supposedly do, and later revert to the right-thinking kind . . .? Hmmm. That’s putting the wedding before the first date. To quote Professor Robert Kirshner, “just for fun,” let’s start from “first sight.”

Friday afternoon found me at the Waltham Westin Hotel for a conference of College Republicans, officially sponsored by a group so right of center that I felt like their token communist. Piggybacking onto that conference was the annual elections conference of the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans (MACR).

As part of a corrupt election campaign, a slate of candidates threw a party that night for all the delegates. Who wouldn’t vote for the guy who buys the beer? The Harvard delegation attended the party.

The executive director of MACR (whose name, like all others mentioned, has been altered) rode up in the elevator with us. “What’s your name?” I asked. “Bob,” he answered. “Where do you go to school?” “Brandeis,” he informed us. The Harvard contingent responded with nods, yes, people knew about Brandeis. “What’s your position?” Everyone had been introducing themselves as president of this or that Republican group. “69,” he offered. Bob thereby managed to thoroughly insult the sense of decorum of the entire elevator in less than two minutes.

Upon reaching the fourth floor, Bob ran ahead to orchestrate a massive cheer in honor of Conor—the low-brow candidate for chair of MACR, whose only competition was a Harvardian—as we entered. Our arrival invited some hissing too. Hostility hung heavy in the air. What a fantastic way to start an evening.

Not content to be driven out, the Harvard contingent regrouped and worked to mingle and integrate into the crowd. We scouted out the room, checking out the not overly friendly crowd.

One member headed straight for the keg—a minute or so after our chilly welcome—only to be interviewed by the keg master about why he was in Massachusetts if he hailed from California. Well, Josh said, he attends school in Massachusetts. Which one? The keg master was curious. A seasoned senior, I interrupted to ask what fine institution the keg master attended during daylight hours, and when he replied Umass-Amherst, I playfully punched Josh’s arm and told Mister Keg that Josh and I attend UMass-Boston. He bought it, and Josh got his beer sans spittle. You laugh, but two friends later told me that they ditched their beer, finding it “funny tasting” after having been alma-mater - truthful.

Mingling was a challenge. The extraordinarily male-heavy room wasn’t opening up to us, especially after Bob decided to climb atop a coffee table and speak extemporaneously of the imperative nature of electing Conor. “What about freedom?!” I cheekily shouted out. Bob had no response, nor did the remainder of the room.

Luckily, the Mount Holyoke girls dug the Harvard presence, and we bonded. My friend Carly complained that the party was “so high school.” Perhaps. It certainly was different from the typical weekend fare. There was no music. The lights were glaring. People largely stuck with their friends. And of course, there was the token slut—who interestingly enough served as a terrific ice breaker.

People had generally turned up at this party in comfy attire. This girl, whose name was quickly replaced by “The Slut” or “The Hoochie”—so quickly in fact, that if a stranger commented about her, there was no mistaking the topic of conversation—arrived in skin-tight black pants and a barely there white top. (Dems might chuckle at such prudishness, but hey, we’re Republicans!)

Subtlety was not this girl’s specialty—no one was surprised to hear that within five minutes of meeting her roommate for this overnight conference that the differently attired girl had announced, “I’m having sex tonight!” What a first impression. Anyway, The Slut spent several hours strutting about the two-room suite, fishing for a guy to take home. No one was biting. Her roommate explained, “All the guys who hear she’s my roommate, they all feel bad for me. No one wants her. They all say, ‘Been there, done that.’” Ouch.

In the meantime, I began schmoozing with the UMass-Amherst contingent. Each time I’d end up talking to one guy in particular, he’d start dishing dirt about the last guy he’d just seen me talking to, just to keep me informed you understand.

The guy who I discovered had been voted best looking on the UMass College Council had been chatting me up for quite a while (the one positive piece of gossip his friends shared), and we were standing around with a bunch of his pals from school. Bob appeared suddenly. I felt him before I saw him. His right arm had found its way around my waist, and it refused to budge.

“Are you single?” Bob queried. “We should go out. When’s good? How about Sunday? Yes, Sunday night.”

“No,” I told him.

“Why not?”

“My parents are in town. I’m hanging out with them on Sunday.” Amazingly enough, that was entirely truthful.

“Great, we’ll get it out of the way. I’ll just meet them now!” Bob was thrilled.

“No, really.”

Turning to the six guys standing around us, Bob announced: “We’re getting married in three months.”

“Excuse me?” I turned to him, loosening myself from his gluelike-grip. Sean, another new friend of mine from UMass was strolling by, wondering at the commotion as I grabbed his arm. “Well, Sean and I are getting married tomorrow,” I retorted, “so, we can’t get married in three months.” I meant to shut down this discussion, but the silliness only escalated.

“You are?” Bob angrily asked the easy-going Sean. Confused, Sean responded in the affirmative, he would go along with whatever I said, and I had said we were getting married.

Bob was royally wrathful. He marched off, but the ensuing peace was short-lived. He had apparently called a pow-wow with Jon, another UMass student who needed Bob’s support in the following day’s MACR election. Jon quickly found his way over to where Sean and I were standing and talking and proceeded to lecture Sean—with nary a smile or laugh—about “stealing Bob’s woman.” Huh? As far as I could tell, my blatantly insulting Bob all night—to his face no less—in return for his vulgar and sexist comments was a strong signal that I wanted him. The male ego is indeed a curious thing. Never before had I met a guy so turned on by being dissed.

It does make you wonder, if the College Republicans are known as “the best party on campus,” what’s it like to party with the College Dems? And to borrow from “Saturday Night Live’s” wise Linda Richman, if the male contingent was neither chivalrous nor gracious, and this gathering was a sad excuse for a party, were these guys really Republicans? Discuss amongst yourselves!