As we all know, Princeton can feel like a small place: We’re all bound to run into that person we don’t want to run into in the courtyard outside of Firestone, in line for Frist pizza, or worse — in our precept section. In a tight-knit community like this one, it can be nearly impossible to find a pocket of privacy. Sometimes, we may find ourselves wishing that certain people didn’t know everything they do about our lives.
In Street's new series on love, sex and dating on campus, we will be publishing some articles anonymously. We would love for writers to feel comfortable attaching their name to these stories — and, as the series progresses, you’ll see that some of our writers will. When they do choose to reveal their identity, we hope you’ll respect their decision to do so — it takes a great deal of courage to reveal such personal information and openly admit to one’s mistakes to both the Princeton community and, of course, the Internet at large.
Other writers desire anonymity, maybe because they don’t want their parents to see the piece or because they hope that the subject of their essay — that crush or heartbreaker — won’t figure out who’s writing. Whatever the reason, the other Street editors and I have decided to allow anonymity, in the hopes that doing so will produce an honest discussion on Princeton’s dating culture. As our writers reveal their most personal thoughts and experiences on these pages, we ask that you keep in mind how much courage it takes even our anonymous authors to tell such stories, some of which have never been told to anyone before.
Allie Weiss, Street Editor
In the fall of my freshman year, I became infatuated with a prospective physics major who did not drink.
We met on the first week of classes. He was in the same advisory group as my best friend from Outdoor Action. He teased me about my name as I watched my strawberry frozen yogurt drip from the bottom of my sugar cone at dinner in Wilcox. He was snarky and grumpy and challenged me in a way that reminded me of home, my misanthropic parents tearing apart my arguments over the dinner table. Making the trek back to Wilson from Rocky after the sun had set and each lamp revealed spiraling shadows from its post, he said he was surprised at how many hot girls my OA friend knew. I asked if that included me. It did.
I had spent the last nine years of my life at an all-girls school. My mother had always been mute on the subject of boys. My dad told me when I was 12 that I could do whatever I wanted, as long as I didn’t get pregnant. In sophomore year of high school, I began hanging out with guys for the first time in six years. I plunged ahead with no sense of sexual ethics or responsibility, only an insatiable curiosity. Senior year, my friends started throwing parties with alcohol and casual hookups suddenly became a possibility. No more hours spent on AIM waiting for flameboy442 to sign on or checking my phone every minute for a text. Instead, we’d acquire a huge variety of alcohol, make out, throw up and have sex.
When I came to Princeton, I quickly gravitated towards the Street, loving the freedom alcohol gave me to be with whomever I wanted that night. Yet outside of the Street, beginning something even remotely romantic with a guy seemed impossible. People traveled in herds, finding an excuse to hang out alone with a guy was hard and getting his number was even more difficult.
My prospective physics major told me he never went to the Street. I wanted something to happen between us, but it was never the right time. For me, the Street manufactured the right time, but he was never there and my drunken self made do with whomever I could find in his stead. Looking back, I see that I faced a distinct problem, something I feel that many Princetonians can understand, that I could not find a way to approach a guy unaided by alcohol.
And then, one November night, my OA friend sent me a text saying the snarky boy was going out to the Street with the rest of us. I put on my best top and my most intense eyeliner. We all met in the Wilson courtyard. We hiked up the long curved path to the first level of Frist. We meandered by the big blue sofa-chairs facing the large television where some football game was playing. This was where my prospective physics major stopped. He would go no further. He wanted to watch the game. We walked to the Street without him. I entered an eating club, got a beer and started to consider my other options. A few more beers later, I came to a conclusion: I did not want to hook up with just anyone on the Street; I wanted to be with him. I accosted my OA friend, forced him to tell me my grumpy boy’s room number and headed out. I was on a mission.
I arrived at his dorm, made my way up to his room and listened at the door. He was playing music. Only then did I realize that if I knocked at his door, I would look like a stalker and a crazy person. I needed to come up with an excuse. I walked down his hall and then back to his room. I knocked. He opened the door and peeked out. I told him I had heard his music. This, of course, did not explain how I knew where he lived. He sat down in the hallway with me and we talked for about an hour. He told me he didn’t drink because it made him mean. The last time he was drunk, he told some girl to fuck him. This, for him, was traumatic. But I just wanted him to say that to me. I wanted to kiss him badly, but he was so clean and pure and he wouldn’t even let me into his room. I realized I wanted a relationship with this boy, but I had no sense of how to go about it. Was he not interested or just put off by my inebriation? I got his number at some point and then he told me he was tired. I went back to my room. I barely saw him for a month.
Later, at freshman formals, I watched a guy I’d hooked up with the night before make out with another girl. I was upset. I had thought things had gone well with this guy. I’d brought him back to my dorm. We’d fallen asleep together on top of my covers. He had kissed me goodbye in the morning. I had been planning to find him again that night and maybe start something. But now, he was on the dance floor pushing some girl with a nose ring against the wall, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was worthless, interchangeable with any other willing girl. I wondered what my physics boy was doing right now. I decided he wasn’t the type to go to formals. I decided he must be in his room doing homework.
Ten minutes later, I found him in his room working on a writing seminar paper. I went there in my short black formals dress with a black bow on the top, the one that belonged to my mother. I went there, and he let me in. He didn’t seem to want me there. He was busy doing his work. I told him I’d go get my work and then we could do work together. I was pitiful, drunk and on the verge of tears. He reluctantly agreed. I rushed back to my room, grabbed “Crime and Punishment” and brought it to his room. I sat with the book resting against my knees and we worked in silence. The artificial light, him typing at his computer, the blue circular rug — it was all weirdly comforting. At that moment, he felt more like a friend to me then than the object of my infatuation.
He asked me why I was so upset, and I said something about the other guy. I shouldn’t have. It was a foreign world to him anyway. He didn’t understand the overwhelming desire to be acknowledged in a place where you could be wanted one night and ignored the next. And yet I couldn’t imagine spending every Saturday night inside doing work, instead of being out having an adventure, leaving my stress behind with my inhibitions. At some point, we decided to go to Hoagie Haven. He’d never been. I led him there and we both got Phat Ladies. He walked with his arms tight in the pockets of his blue windbreaker and was always a step ahead of me. When I got back to my room, I texted him and he told me I was “batshit crazy.” A couple of weeks later, I found out he had told his friends he had been interested, but I was too crazy to date. I spent the rest of the year avoiding him.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, I ran into him at late meal. He took me aside and apologized for calling me crazy the year before. It was nice of him. We haven’t talked since. I do not know who his friends are anymore. I do not even know if he actually became a physics major. I run into random freshman year hookups daily, but I hardly ever see him. I do not know many people who do not drink, who do not go out. It’s the great Princeton divide and my crazy freshman stalking wasn’t able to bridge it.