September 21, 2011

Cornell: Your Dating Kwik-e-Mart

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Most dating starts out as convenience dating. That is not to say that you don’t honestly like the person or that it won’t grow into something more meaningful (although both of those are likely) — it’s just how it works. Perhaps I should backtrack a bit in my thought process.

Cornell is a convenience store for dating. It is our personal Nasties. I’m not saying that you can get a date with the same ease as picking a candy bar or a pack of disposable razors off a shelf. I’m saying that you don’t try and date the weird sundae-flavored Pop Tart that you wouldn’t dare buy. You date the Nature Valley granola bar that is familiar.

Two weeks ago I wrote that we are continually meeting people and making connections. I said that we, in some ways, live our lives going from one haphazard encounter to the next. But what about the people you meet more regularly? Not the people you know, such as your roommates and friends, but those whom you see two nights a week at work (waddup, Cornell Annual Fund?) or three times a week in your schizophrenia seminar. Where do these people fall in the gamut of our love lives?

These people seem insignificant. They’re flat characters (the sundae-flavored Pop Tarts, if you will) who occasionally garner a mention in your meticulously updated LiveJournal but are only attributed one or two indentifying qualities (e.g., the girl who types with such force that you’re surprised the keys on her laptop haven’t gone on some kind of inanimate object strike, or the Pop Tart you’d like to try but just aren’t sure you’ll like). And it’s possible (probable, even) that this is all they will ever be. But as soon as you start talking to them — as soon as you establish their names or some other facts about them — you have promoted them from flat characters to complex ones. Goodbye, sundae Pop Tart.

What is important about this transition from a girl who types like a mad man to an Audrey (or a Lucille or an Ingrid) is that now she has possibility. By learning her name, you’ve automatically upgraded her from a sundae-flavored Pop Tart to a strawberry Pop Tart (one day, she might even move on up to a brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tart). While we can guess that — similar to the other beloved Pop Tart flavors — sundae is probably pretty good (or at least not bad), we never take it home. Our reusable grocery bags are reserved for our favorite provisions.

If you analyze your catalogue of exes like a series of receipts, you’ll see a pattern. You’ll notice that the people you date are ones you unintentionally spend lots of time with — whether that means that you’re in the same club, work together, take the same bus to Statler or just happen to see each other in line for Cambodian food at the Farmer’s Market every Saturday at 9:45 a.m. You’re thrown together so much that you can’t help but notice each other. Perhaps her nervous laugh will grab your attention, or maybe it’ll be the way she scrunches up her nose in mock anger when you tease her. Whatever it is, you may find yourself arriving to class a few minutes early just to get some extra time with her.

Even if you knew each other previously,  if you hadn’t taken that schizophrenia seminar or joined the quidditch team, you wouldn’t have dated her because it’s not meeting a person that’s important, it’s seeing them on a regular basis. What I mean to say is that we date those whom we have the easiest access to. If the 7-11 by your house didn’t stock the Captain (Crunch or Morgan, your call), would you start shopping at a different convenience store? No, you’d switch to Lucky Charms or Bacardi.

Dating is meant to be convenient when you’re in college. Sometimes we get in over our heads and forget that. We think we’re Noah and Allie, writing our own (hopefully happy) version of The Notebook. We’re not. We’re dating whomever we’re dating because they’re around and so are we. If you graduate and find yourselves on opposites sides of the state, country or world, call it quits because your significant other is suddenly out of stock and there are no new shipments in sight.

Hazel Gunapala is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at hgunapala@cornellsun.com. Appropriately Cynical appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

Original Author: Hazel Gunapala