With the world beyond Ithaca calling, we two seniors have been exploring the Collegetown scene more and more in recent weeks — who knows when will be the next time we’ll get back to Rulloff’s Taco Tuesdays after graduation?
This got us thinking about the meaning of it all, the true purpose of going out. What’s “normal” behavior in a bar? It’s harder to explain than you might think.
So we conducted an extremely scientific survey, advertised on Facebook, and the results were intriguing. When asked what the strangest thing they had ever seen in a bar was, the 41 respondents gave a wide variety of answers. In fact, there were only two discernible trends.
Not surprisingly, we guess, the strongest trend (with four positive responses) was sex — at least one of our respondents had witnessed a hand job in the corner of a dance floor, while three people mentioned couples going at it at the bar.
Other anecdotes ranged from the anatomical (“Someone snort a shot and then get a nose bleed”) to the morally questionable (“Forty-year-old man making out with a teenage girl”) to the downright belligerent (“Friend got so angry almost cracked a bottle open on another kid’s head ... ended up just breaking it on the floor at Rulloff’s, then afterwards was jumped on by cops who held him down by cop sticks”).
There is only one clear conclusion: We at Cornell are freaks.
And when someone disrupts us getting our freak on by bringing the forbidden homework into the sacred drinking space, the reflex is to label that as weird and get as far away as possible.
When we tested our hypotheses at Level B last Wednesday, the other club-goers must have been pretty confused by our presence. But, despite the fact that we were wearing pajamas and carrying backpacks, we didn’t get any clear reactions until we sat on a bench in the corner and pulled out the books. That’s when the dirty looks started.
A group of girls pointed at us, talking amongst themselves with disgusted expressions on their faces. Anyone who had left a purse or a fishbowl in the vicinity of our couch immediately came over and moved their belongings elsewhere, as if we had some sort of highly contagious disease.
Out of 41 respondents, the ONE PERSON who had brought some form of homework to a Collegetown bar said, “[The other people at the bar] actively ignored me and passively sneered at my occupation of prime make-out real estate.”
One of our survey questions was how you would react to seeing someone bringing homework to the bar during prime going-out hours. Perhaps the response that best summed up the feelings of those who filled out our questionnaire was this: “Stop. Please, for the love of God, stop.”
A few people said they would feel pity in such a situation, a few more feeling extremely amused. The overwhelmingly common response, however, was confusion (with 21 of 41 responses). We saw this firsthand at Level B.
The strong reactions suggest that the “bar” of expectations has been set for Cornellians; when we don our designated “going-out” gear we are dressing for a very specific occasion to participate in a socializing ritual. In analyzing the survey replies to the question, “What do you expect to find at a Collegetown bar [and] what social purpose do you think bars serve?” we coded responses for the four most common categorical replies, which we classified as the “four S’s” (socializing, sexualizing, stress release and simply drinking).
In a few cases, responses clearly addressed more than one of the categories and are therefore counted twice but the majority of replies fit neatly into one of the listed purposes (or were complete outliers). Overwhelmingly (25/41), the replies indicated that bars serve to facilitate socializing, a place to make friends ... and lovers. Eight out of 41 replies contested that bars serve a primarily sexual purpose; they are college mating grounds. Three out of 41 believe that bars are a place for stress release, and four out of 41 head to bars simply because they just want to get their drink on.The bottom line is that the Collegetown night scene is ultimately a place for “banging, boning, friend-ing,” and “crunk, funk, bumping junk,” as two replies so concisely stated. While it may not be so surprising that the bar scene is for socializing, it surprised us that only 19.5 percent of responses cited “sex” as the prime bar directive. Does that mean that, sometimes, we really are just looking for some platonic friends?
Since C-town bars are an overwhelmingly socially oriented operation, it’s perhaps not so surprising that we encountered a number of antagonistic responses to our pajama-clad backpack-bearing selves. Homework, as we know it here at the Big Red, tends to be an anti-social endeavor.
And the standard homeworking uniform sends a similar message. One of us quipped to a friend who came along to witness the scene that we had “left our skank-suits at home.” Yet this is a loaded statement; “suit” implies that there is a uniform expected upon bar entrance, an outfit that invites attention to potential friends and/or mates. On the other hand, maybe our animal and fruit-print pajamas conveyed a more unusual message for the bar scene: “It’s time for bed, and you’re not invited.” RLD