Trendysomething in SoMo
I’ve only been out of school for a matter of months, yet having been on the five-year plan (so trendy!) and being naturally predisposed to maturity, I feel much older. I wouldn’t call myself an old soul (I lean towards soulless), but I feel like I’ve been around the block enough to feel a tad more mature than my age.
So it came as a surprise when I found myself dating a couple of college students in recent months. This wasn’t a purposeful experiment to produce column fodder (although I’m not above such antics), but merely happenstance. And now – in time for the college tradition of the Turkey-drop, it appears that this period has passed. I come away from this experience with a bevy of knowledge, which I present as, “The Do’s and Don't’s of Dating a College Student."
Do: Be resourceful in scouting out your prey
Because universities like UH, TSU and St. Thomas are mainly composed of commuters, their students may be found all over town. Rice kids are easier to spot – head to the light rail and look for naïve youngsters in baggy khakis on their way to HGO for student rush tickets. Or you can play one of my favorite youth pastimes, “Spot the Rice Student” at Cafe Brasil (hint: watch for ill-fitting sweatshirts and banter about biochemistry professors). Surprisingly, I met my first college catch, Jon, on the dance floor of a trashy club – a universal no-no. Instead of sporting hair gel and reeking of Axe, Jon wore thick-framed glasses and smelled of tea tree oil soap. He pointed out that the seemingly innocuous silkscreened geometric image on my shirt was in fact a depiction of Escher-esque tessellations. Regardless of age, referencing early 20th century Dutch graphic art on the dance floor is reason enough to ask for a phone number.
Don’t: Allow friends to call you a cougar
Most likely your friends will pass judgment for dating down or bringing a bright-eyed kid into your nonchalant circle. They are jealous. Explain how the student brings a refreshing spirit and has taught you that “Crime and Punishment” is an actual book and not just the title of a VHS from your creepy neighbor’s pornography collection. Perhaps approach the situation with humor: the first time I introduced Jon to my posse, I said, “This is my rebound, Josh. I mean Jared. Wait, it’s Jon. Josh, go get me another Pabst.” If a friend persists in ridiculing you, divulge that he or she has an iPhone app that tracks Zac Efron via satellite.
Do: Expose the student to glamorous post-grad life
There’s no reason to let your date in on the anxieties of life after college. Why talk about explosive credit card debt when there are secret drum circles to attend? It’s gratifying to introduce a date to such underground haunts as the upstairs at Notsuoh and readings of anarchist texts at Sedition. The student will be mesmerized by your fully blossomed intellectual prowess, whether it takes the form of being on a first-name basis with wine attendants at exhibition openings or repurposing Ira Glass’s podcasts as make-out music. Nobody has to know about the disconnection notices underneath that Ikea futon.
Don’t: Attend on-campus parties
I accepted an invitation from Jon to take part in an '80's-theme party at his school, and quickly went to work compiling the perfect getup and rehearsing MJ videos on YouTube. Arriving on campus, I immediately was accosted by a security guard taking issue with my VitaminWater bottle I’d halved with Ketel 1. The dorm hallways were strewn with red-faced underage students acting as if they’d never encountered a drink before in their life. Walking into the main room, I was affronted by the blasting sounds of contemporary hip-hop and sight of grinding recent high school graduates. I called Jon. His roommate answered his cell phone and explained that he’d already passed out. I decided to cut my losses and stand in line for whatever toxic punch was being served. After a 15-minute wait, I turned around to see a freshman appearing as if he were about to sneeze. It was too late before I ascertained that this sneeze would metamorphose into a spew of vomit. At that moment I realized that I was partying with a group of amateurs that hadn’t even been alive in the 1980s.
Do: Make a timely exit
Upon realizing that a major minor had just snomitted on my acid wash jean jacket, I took flight out of the dorms and off the college grounds. After tossing my ruined threads into Mecom Fountain, I hailed a cab to meet up with contemporaries at Poison Girl. After all, the prospect of a life spent endlessly pining for pretty young things is fairly unsettling. College students come with lots of hang-ups, like fickle sexuality, midterms, and strict dorm security. After a several month diversion, I’ve decided to leave the Michael Douglases, Rod Stewartses and sundry sugar daddies to what they do best. For now, I plan on going solo, reintegrating with my peer group, and perhaps even looking in the opposite direction. Don’t look twice if you spot me listening to Grandmaster Flash on my Walkman and scouting single dads at Bell Park – decked out in a new jacket, of course.