As a 27-year old dude, I recently confirmed that most of the undergraduates (who are 18-22) are not very curious to meet me. If I introduce myself, they’ll talk just fine, but by default I’m not part of their world. Originally I had different opinion on this matter. I noticed how a few very charming and social graduate students would make udergraduate friends, and even date. And I thought that if I’m sufficiently funny and attractive (the word I’m looking for is dorky), then I can just go to an undergraduate party and make a lot of friends, maybe even hit on girls. I seriously thought that if a random guy starts a conversation with them while they are just standing there doing nothing, they will find it fun and go with it. To my surprise, every time I went in with that kind of mindset, party brought me very negative emotions, and I didn’t actually have a decent conversation with anyone.
So this year, I reevaluated my views on what it acceptable on an undergraduate party. First of all, I’m getting older, it’s actually crazy how most people dancing there are younger than anybody I ever hanged out with or dated in my life. And age does matter – here’s what convinced me that is the case: I’ve had a profile on a dating website for 5 month now, and all the people who ever visited my profile were 23+. Even if there are college girls looking for older men, they are looking for exceptional ones, like rockstars. Nobody would reply or even check a page of 27 years old theoretical physicist. And I’ve tried to start a conversation with quite a lot of college girls over the course of these month.
I’m not very upset about this, it seems like a natural order of things. At my age, I should do age-appropriate things while looking for a romantic partner. Why did I go to the undergrad party in the first place? It was actually not to hit on girls, even though I like them. My main goal was to dance, because most of my friends that are my age are not very interested in exploring LA’s parties. I myself will not feel very comfortable there, because I’m not used to that culture and my energy level is lower than most of the regular party animals. Undergrad parties on the other hand offered a chance to enjoy club music in a less intimidating environment. And also students are more likely to express themselves in ways that are fun for me.
For example, the theme of this party was “Victoria’s Secret fashion show”. Especially guys were encouraged to cross-dress, and show off their best lingerie. Obvious fact that guys don’t have any lingerie in their possession did not stop the party enthusiasts. I really wanted someone to make fun of all the absurdity around VS, and that felt like the right place for it. I’ve spend full 4 hours on the party, from beginning to end, and never felt like I have nothing to do or like I’m wasting my time. The trick was to take it slow, and smile at every fun and weird thing you see, and do every harmless idea that comes to your mind. I didn’t even have to drink alcohol, the mood of the people around was enough to keep me happy, secure and relaxed. Here are the highlights:
- They had sugarcane machine, and they weren’t very sure how to operate it. The sugar dust was flying in the air, creating a nice smell. Individual flosses descended like snowflakes, and undergrads tried to catch them with their mouth. The scene reminded me of a fantasy book about dragons of Fern who had to destroy these kind of airy objects before they reach the ground.
- I actually knew the DJ, so I’ve spend sometime watching the sound control panel that matches the complexity of an airplane cabin. The DJ’s friends also acted as go-go girls just out of good will.
- The butterfly wings were on a huge paintings, so one could stand in the center and take a winged picture of themselves. I stood there for sometime with my eyes closed while no people were around.
- I watched the podium where students encouraged each other to catwalk, and applauded with everybody. At some point, I started dancing on it and people joined me eventually. Same on the side of dance floor – at some point the lit square of dance floor became so crowded that people didn’t fit in anymore, so I was the one who started dancing on the regular floor, haha!
- I’ve met a person I TA’d, 2 people I was taking classes with and 2 girls from the same dance classes. The girls just said hi, but the guys would stay for a quick chat. I even met 2 new guys, and got invited to an open mic next day.
- The girl that dances in the same class as me showed up late, dressed to the nines and with a boyfriend. That’s how I found out she has one.
- The athletes are incredibly tall. And in between punching each other, they always conspire to have more parties: either go to West Hollywood, or invite everybody to an afterparty in their own house.
- I want to tell a story of a person with a weak body, who has always been intimidated by physically strong people. He was thinking they could easily beat him up if they want, and that made him angry at how weak he is. But then he realized: I can protect myself if I want! I only need to buy a pepper spray. The fact they’re two times bigger doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. Thus conquering his own fear, that person felt calm. He didn’t need to but a pepper spray – he was able to enjoy his time even when stronger people are around him. This mental exercise is how one can regain composure and self-respect on the party.
- An arabic short guy showed up wrapped in some sort of muslim flag. He was either on drugs or just drank ten energy drinks. He ran around instead of walking, put tons of energy into dancing and imitating the dick movement with “mighty thrust”. At some point his muslim flag became a representation of his dick, and he started waving it around. He also took off his pants and started grinding with a cross-dressed guy. This whole episode blew my mind, because what if he’s really muslim and that how he thinks about himself when he’s drugged. Usually muslims are very serious about the restrictions their faith imposes.
- There is a demeanor that makes people rapidly turn their eyes away as if they don’t notice you. It’s pretty much like this with me: even though I danced quite a lot, I can count people who actually looked at me by fingers on one hand.
- Even though I completely gave up on talking to girls, they still assumed the worst about me. Once, I collided with a girl at the exit from the party – I didn’t notice her when I was walking out. She thought I did it on purpose!
- A few people were stoned at the stairsteps, the girl was literally on the floor laughing, while a guy was repeating for the 10th time how he found out that “meter/meter is dimensionless!”
The more open-minded attitude brought me a better party experience, even if partying with people so much younger than me was bound to have “fitting in” problems. I admitted to myself that I actually don’t want to be bombarded by new names and faces, at least not now. I said to myself: don’t try too hard to make new friends there. Maybe on one of the other parties (next posts!) I will explore the talking and making jokes again, but for now, I’d like to establish my comfort zone where I don’t need to start any conversations, I’m just being with the crowd and let other people be the entertainers, and myself the audience. It is lucky for me that I don’t stand out, that’s how I can just listen in on people who are having fun, and it’s almost not creepy. I enjoyed feeling lazy this time: I could’ve introduced myself to them and joined the conversation, but I don’t need it that much. The mind is clearer when I don’t know people next to me and don’t have any social obligations of talking to them. Also, the throat is not sore after 4 hours of party – amazing!