Fifteen Minutes: Taking Singledom to Princeton: A Courtship Diary

It's over. Being a couple, that is. It simply didn't work, and so you dumped him, or he dumped you,
By Melissa ROSE Langsam

It's over. Being a couple, that is. It simply didn't work, and so you dumped him, or he dumped you, or, hey--maybe it was even a mutual decision.

The details are secondary. Long story short, you're an individual again, rather than half of a pair. You've stopped telling stories about "us" and gossiping about him is over--perhaps you wouldn't mind his subtly dropping off the face of the earth.

The same presumably goes for him. After all, what happened between the two of you is your business. Your ex may be an ex, but he's still a gentleman. He would never reveal embarrassing details to his buddies. Ladies, allow me to introduce the Men Who Drink.

Man, and you thought Harvard Admissions was stringent! The Men Who Drink consists of no more than 10 Princetonians: all male, all seniors and all members of the Tower eating club, home to the campus' politicos. It is an exclusive group within an exclusive club, by no means an exhaustive roster of Tower's senior guys.

I was introduced to the group last week. Spring break took me to sunny Princeton, New Jersey, where I spent a good deal of time relaxing Princeton style, which included dining and partying at the campus' various eating clubs: less exclusive, co-ed versions of our final clubs. Most of the time, I chilled at Tower, with my peeps, so to speak.

At dinner on Monday night, I met Dean (all names are changed to protect the innocent). He quickly became keen on the idea of proving to me how far superior Princeton is to Harvard, particularly on the partying front. To prove his point, Dean and two others took me out drinking that night at the local equivalents of Brew Moon and Charlie's Kitchen, on a Monday night no less. Dean wanted me to admit a Princeton victory, but I resisted. That won me an invitation to join a small group of "hard core" devoted party-goers on Wednesday. I accepted.

Following Dean's instructions, I arrived at Tower later in the evening. Slightly early, I joined some women to watch the end of Seven. In the brief intermission between the evening two's feature films, I suddenly heard someone behind me talking about "this random Harvard chick." Upon turning around, I discovered Dean, who had apparently been letting his club-mates know that Random Harvard Chick would be coming to see him and would come in looking really confused and lost. Amazingly enough, I was neither.

Dean confided that it seemed no women had joined them yet, but he thought it would be alright if I did. He slid the wooden door open to reveal a room full of thesis-writing guys, who seemed absolutely oblivious to looming deadlines. They were comfortably reclining in large chairs placed about a circular table littered with empty bottles. There was smoke in the air--from cigars and such--and Frank Sinatra's crooning filled the air. I stood for a moment, unsure what to do next.

"Hey, Random Harvard Chick," someone said.

"I have a name," I informed the group.

No one particularly cared; they seemed to like the moniker better.

"Why don't you sit down," Dean offered, pointing at an empty chair beside me. Other than Dean, I had met the two guys to his left, Rick and Andy respectively. Then of course, there was Jeff, a guy I knew from home, but I didn't say anything to him. I got pulled into conversation about being hit on by men with the three guys to my left.

Apparently, Andy had been propositioned twice by men while playing harmonica on a street corner in Princeton, and he'd been puzzled. That led to a discussion about male aesthetics and what gay men prefer body-type wise. The natural conversational progression was to then have Andy ask another guy in the circle to flex for me.

In return for my valued thoughts, Andy kindly taught me to smoke the pipe he had with him, and so we passed the pipe back and forth over Dean and Rick. (Note to reader: no wacky tabacky with these boys). I practiced my grip, with the three guys as my feedback panel, until I had a satisfactorily feminine form.

In the meantime, Andy began waxing eloquent about a girl he'd hooked up with last year, who coincidentally, is a friend of mine. He remembered fondly how they'd hooked up in the hallway outside of his room, and how hurt he'd been when he sent a follow-up e-mail, and she essentially brushed him off. "Oh!" I realized, "she started dating someone really seriously around then," which wasn't necessarily a consolation, but it did solve his mystery.

Andy launched into a tirade about the Schmidt family curse. The "curse" consists of all of the tall men in his family inevitably falling in love with petite women, while he in particular seems to have a proclivity for Jews.

"Well," someone shouted, "you could be Jewish. You're hairy and hung like a Tic-Tac!"

In the interim, Rick had gotten into a fight with Marc, who was two seats to my right. It seems they've both dated the same girl, whom we'll call Jane. They were arguing about whether she had "hairy titties." Each one claimed to be an authority on the matter, and while Rick had seemingly dated her more recently, Marc claimed that he'd hooked up with her since that point, so he should in fact have the final word. The fight was punctuated by other guys' chiming in about how Jane's appearance had so vastly improved since she had broken up with both guys.

Steve, on my right, began recounting a hook-up he'd had in exquisite detail, so while I don't know the girl, I know all about her physique. My sense of female solidarity was insulted. Are women not critical enough of their own bodies?

"Do you always tell your friends all about your hook-ups?" I queried, not so neutrally.

"Yes," Steve told me, he had to, or else he'd completely forget his entire list of conquests.

"It's a matter of repetition," Andy offered, like a good future psych grad student.

While he was talking, Jeff finally deigned to acknowledge me. "Do I know you?" he asked slowly, as if trying for suave.

"Yes," I said politely. He paused, trying to look thoughtful. "Are you by any chance from New Rochelle?" he asked with an increasingly snotty intonation.

"Yes," I repeated, in my friendliest tone.

"Oh," he said and went back to ignoring me.

Now, truth be told, there's no way Jeff wouldn't have recognized this decidedly not random Harvard chick. We worked together on a campaign during the summer before our freshman year, and we kept in touch. Jeff became known among my friends as "The Bear" in honor of his imposing stature, a full 15 inches taller than me, which made for interesting conversations! At some point, a mutual friend confronted me, insulted by my neglecting to tell her that Jeff and I were dating. I was taken aback since, I knew nothing about it. Apparently all of Jeff's Princeton friends did though . . . Our contact lagged as he pointedly refused to stay in touch on a friendship basis. This was the first time I'd seen him since, and in spite of a series of changes, I recognized him immediately. I sense he did likewise.

This aside creates a false impression though, since conversation was flying about me at lightning pace, fueled by scotch and beer, the manly drinks of choice. Looking to my left again, my attention was suddenly called to my right.

"Random Harvard Chick, I have a question for you."


"Alright. So, you're dancing, I mean, grinding. Do you know what grinding is?"


"So, you're grinding with a friend. He gets a boner and you feel it. What goes through your head at that moment?"

"Is it a platonic friend? Someone I'm happy just being friends with?"

"A friend."

"Or, maybe a stranger?"

"You'd dance with a stranger?"


"No," he said shaking his head, "a friend, like Dean, what are you thinking? 'Cause you know, it's like in seventh grade, you just get really excited when the bell rings, and you just can't help it, a guy just can't help it."

Uh, huh. I sort of shook my head. What exactly was I supposed to be saying anyway? It didn't really matter. The Men Who Drink were hungry and all they cared about was their Hoagie Haven run. If that's male terminology for the ends of the earth, their ex-girlfriends might even crack a smile.