Thursday, May 03, 2012

The evolution of prep

-Last night I went with a group of mathematicians, physicists, etc. to a karaoke night at the bar in town. If grad students have a reputation among undergrads for being the out-of-place old folks at campus social events, where does that leave postdocs-and-same-age-significant-others? Before we headed out, we all made sure we had ID... only to be the one group not carded at the door. A sign at the door indicated that you needed to have been born in 1991 to enter. Weird, because it's 1997. Except, wait a moment...

The night was plenty of fun, but it at times felt as though we were crashing a frat party. These were the fittest, tallest, preppiest undergrads I'd ever seen, and they were in the process of something I'd only ever read about: the college hook-up culture. I kind of identified with Dan Savage on "Savage U," as though I were at the bar not to drink an entire beer and be asked by a mathematician I'd just met whether I was Scandinavian (first time for everything!), but to help The Youth sort out their love lives. Which isn't really my thing - as an instructor of undergrads, even if not these particular undergrads, I have the usual grad-student wariness of being out socially among them.

-Not to tread on Flavia's turf, but there's something - an Edith Wharton novel? a backstory to the Susan Ross character from "Seinfeld"? - in this obituary of an 104-year-old alum of the girls' school I attended for K-8:

She was almost certainly the last link to New York's Gilded Age. The daughter of copper baron [so and so], she was born in Paris the youngest of seven children. In 1928 at the age of 22, [she] was briefly married to [so and so], a business associate of her father's. After the couple was formally divorced in 1930, [she] lived with her mother and spent her time painting, playing the harp and maintaining her extensive doll collection. 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

How could you leave out the sardines and The Flintstones?

Flavia said...

Love the last line of that obit. Love it.

Also, your first exposure to hook-up culture? Really? I get that it's not particularly a U of C phenomenon, but I'm ancient and it was happening on college campuses at least as early as 1993--and still going strong in certain NYC bars (the kind popular with 23-year-olds) last time I had the misfortune to stumble into one.

Phoebe said...

My mother, who also received this booklet, and read it more thoroughly than I did, and is making references to things in it I didn't notice (?),

Bisou's chewed through much of it, so I may never get there.

Flavia,

The equivalent relationships (which is to say, casual) occurred at UChicago, if less than at every other non-religious college what with the notorious pseudo-marriages, and at the recent-college-grad Prospect Heights/Park Slope (as vs. Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick) hangouts. But there weren't tanned, musclebound guys and super-dressed-up-relative-to-the-guys girls downing what look like giant French presses-full of beer and groping one another. Something about would-be-intellectuals and nerdy hipsters, respectively, frowning on PDAs.

Britta said...

Re. being asked if you were Scandinavian, I once had someone ask me if I was Greek, which was also similarly surprising.

AFAIK, there still doesn't appear to be a hookup culture at UChicago. Certainly not at any of the pubs in HP, at least.

Phoebe said...

Britta,

I bet this kid would get plenty of ethnic-identity questions!