A first attempt at a fifth year
An open letter to the unknown girl.
She sat in front of me, ear buds gently swinging like metronomes in the loose grasp of her fingertips. She had a look of utter disgust and confusion on her face. What had I just done? How could I have been so stupid and careless? I sat there frozen, a deer caught in the headlights, with my tail between my legs. I promised myself I would never do this again. This was my first encounter with a fifth year.
I’ll never forget that day, it was my first day on campus and I was a freshman, eagerly looking for all the new friends I had made, a.k.a. my SOS group. I walked into the lower caf thinking I’d find someone I knew. I should have known better. So I did what any normal first year does when he’s in a room with no one he knows: I pretended to be on the phone with my imaginary girlfriend. As I was whispering sweet nothings into my blackberry, I saw Kayla, a friend from my SOS group, sitting in a booth. I thought she was dope and I liked her style; she was mellow but funny. She was what my friend, Matt Richard, calls a velvet blazer: “It says ‘I’m classy, but I still know how to have a good time.’” Slipping my phone into my back pocket without even saying goodbye to my “girlfriend,” I decided I would do what I do best and pull a ‘Scott Forsyth’—be overtly flirtatious in hopes of breaking the ice. I took a running start as I slid down the booth, bumping into her hips and asked, “What’s cookin’ good lookin’?”
Nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen. Kayla slowly took out her earbuds, and turned to meet me face-to-face. There was something different about her, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Did she get a new haircut? Was she wearing contacts? Maybe it’s a new shirt or maybe… and then it hit me. It wasn’t her hair, her eyes, her lips... this wasn’t Kayla.
But by the time I had realized this, I was in too deep. So I sipped at my Jugo juice for a little liquid confidence, only it was still too thick to really sip, so I actually ended up just awkwardly puckering up and sucking at my straw until it made the same thin, weak, but oh-so obnoxious sounds of desperation I was feeling in my soul. To this day, I cannot drink Mango Magic without breaking out into a cold sweat. And then it hit me: this situation called for the freshmen conversational Heimlich maneuver that could bring any silence back to life! “So, what year are you?” Unfortunately, she had obviously heard that
line before: “Fifth.” Now I felt like the one who needed reviving, but at this point I was confident I couldn’t expect any mouth-to-mouth. “Oh,” I wheezed, hardly audible over the blaring Top 40 music. Even though she hadn’t asked, I didn’t know what else to do but say, “I’m a first year.” I should have stopped at, “Oh.”
But university is a place for boys to become men, for the rigors of interdisciplinary studies to expand minds and stretch the bounds of human possibility. So I pressed on and asked her what she was reading. I thought that was a pretty safe question—I mean, I’m a pretty smart guy, so I could make this line of questioning work. And it’s
the first day, so she can’t be reading a textbook or anything, right? She was reading a textbook. And not just any textbook—not the kind I could just say, “Oh, that’s cool,” about. No, no, this lovely lady was beautiful and intelligent…and unimpressed. She was reading a dauntingly large and complicated upper-level psychology textbook, so not only was it now abundantly clear that she was out of my league, but she was also probably psychoanalyzing my every move.
I’m not proud of what I did next, but I firmly believe my actions saved my life, because it was only a matter of seconds before I would have passed out or melted or something,
I’m sure. I froze and then booked it. Mid-sentence I ran. No explanation, no apology, I just ran and vowed to myself never to go on any dorm dates. Ever. I never saw her again, and my one regret is that I left that fifth year bombshell thinking I was some cocky punk who thought he could just waltz in and sweep any girl off her feet. If you’re reading this, I want you to know that I’m sorry, I respect you, and you are beautiful and shouldn’t let anyone tell you different. Everyone makes mistakes, and I hope you won’t judge me on who I was. Oh, and I’m still single.