the magazine of the columbia daily spectator
May 1 2013
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Back to the kitchen: A short journey through sexist pop culture
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Missed the Cliterary Open Mic? Check out the highlights here
March 29 2013
Sex & Low Beach
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts,
Once upon a lengthy and unsatisfying night out, my friend suggested that, when it comes to having a love life at Columbia, your standards have to be low. If they have a pulse, they’re worth pursuing. Do we think this is manifestly true? Absolutely false? Somewhere in between?
Settling Isn’t Just For Pioneers
Oh, my dear Settler. Let’s break this down, shall we?
When we talk about “standards,” we’re really talking about the opposition of two phenomena—namely, the actuality of a situation and your expectations. As members of a functioning society, we’ve all been inundated from very early on with a specific set of norms, or “supposed-to”s (e.g., monogamy)—and, as members of so media-saturated a generation, these “supposed-to”s often take the form of Hollywood tropes (e.g., a star-cross’d romance with an understatedly-attractive Prince(ss) Charming who’ll sweep us away if only we can Find The Courage To Be Ourselves). Moreover, with people like Lena Dunham rising to stardom via self-expository films and “personal essays,” and with sites like Facebook and Twitter just begging us to barf out every last detail of our social lives, what we might consider “personal” has never been so prodded into the public sphere. Our sex lives have become something to share and to share extensively (even profitably)—which makes it all the more important that anyone with whom we’re visibly involved measure up to these “supposed-to”s and then some. Hence, “standards.”
Compared to the Platonic Other we end up constructing, every suitor is necessarily going to seem somewhat off—too tall, too short, too boorish, too timid, etc.—until we may end up letting these “standards” get in the way of actually, you know, meeting people and giving them a chance. So, sure, if someone falls on you at a dorm party, smelling to high heaven of stale Doritos and making it abundantly clear that he/she would be equally satisfied with a Fleshlight/Hitachi as with your company, then that person may not ultimately be an ideal romantic target. However, if you’re into Doritos, or just into getting laid—if you’re honestly thinking about what you want, here and now, and not about how the evidence from this encounter might add into the Facebook narrative of your hip collegiate life—then, queen, you do you.
My roommate and I have a thing for the same girl, and whenever she’s in the room with me, he hangs out with us the whole time. The same is true vice-versa. Neither of us wants to allow the other man the upper hand. Recently, this has caused us to start lying to each other about each other’s whereabouts, in an effort to achieve some one-on-one time with her. If this betrayal continues, I’m scared our room will be torn apart by malice and derision. What to do?
Dorms Are Too Small for Love Triangles
As far as I can tell, sir, you have about five basic options at this juncture. One is to take the high road and forget this girl altogether. Accept that the random lottery of collegiate roommatehood is a bond too sacred to be trifled with and gracefully bow out of the running—maybe cry for a bit in the shower while playing “Jesse’s Girl” on repeat.
However, we both know that’s out of the question—otherwise, you would have done it already. So, let’s move on to option two: You could try to have a reasoned conversation with your roommate, in which you explain just how important this girl is to you (have some similes at the ready—ideally, a relevant sonnet) and ask him, respectfully, in the face of your love, to back down. It would also probably help to have a rebound option at the ready for him—maybe even a bottle of something over 80 proof (and your CD single of “Jesse’s Girl”).
Option three is pretty straightforward: you both agree to sever ties with the lady completely. Case closed. Go out and meet some new people, fer chrissakes—take up doubles badminton with all your time now free from deceptive wooing.
If all of that sounds too emotionally taxing, however, we can move on to option four: booby traps. And not the sort of which your adolescent mind is currently conceiving. No, I’m talking legit, Rube Goldberg-level found-object contraptions, placed around your room so as to thwart his attempted hook-up missions. Seriously, get Home Alone with that shit. He tries to open the door when you’re alone with her? Splat: covered in paint. He tries to dim the lights when you’re not around? Boom: frying pan to the face. Sure, it’s labor intensive, but certainly effective—I mean, what girl wants to get with a paint-covered guy gushing blood from his nose?
As for option five, have you ever seen the movie The Dreamers?
I have completely fallen in love with my German professor. His guttural accent and tight jeans make it impossible for me to focus in class. Last week, I spaced out completely during our pronoun quiz imagining our life together (baby named Friedrich, Daschund puppy, cabin in the Alps). My grade is really starting to slip. How can I turn my attention from Herr Sexy and onto my schoolwork?
I feel your pain, liebe Deutschlieber—as, while German gents can indeed be mighty alluring, especially in their choice of close-fitting hosiery, German itself is not quite the tongue of romance. At the very least, the pseudo-Yoda-speak constructions (e.g., “I want right now my face on yours to put”) can make flirting more than a little convoluted, especially for an amateur. Also, professor crushes can be particularly gnarly, given that your teachers necessarily see you at your worst—intellectually vulnerable on a daily basis, strung out and zit-faced after a rough week of midterms—or, perhaps worst of all, depending on class size, they may not see you at all.
However, if handled savvily and with dedication, this position can ultimately be turned to your advantage: Channeling your infatuation into a desire to impress this man will ultimately solve both of your problems. I say, show up to every class swathed in your most fashionable eurostyle (red, yellow, and black garments a plus—maybe even some reappropriated lederhosen), and, other work be damned, throw yourself headfirst into being the best effing student he’s ever seen.
Lingering after class is always a plus, too: there’s no shame in subtly packing and re-packing your bag until you’ve timed your exit perfectly with his, ready and waiting to make small talk. (Subjects to bone up on: Goethe, bratwurst, the lyrics to “99 Luftballons.”) Meanwhile, through all of this, start throwing around some suggestive German terms— but, you know, impressively complex ones, multisyllabic compound nouns that show you’ve been doing your homework: “der Knutschfleck,” “die Samenflüssigkeit,” “die Selbstbefriedigung”—even, if you’re feeling daring, “die Neunundsechzigstellung.” With a vocabulary like that, you’ll be sure to snag his attention—and with luck, and a few well-placed subordinate clauses, that Daschund may soon be in your grasp. (If you know what I mean.)
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