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. 


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.


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...


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