September 12, 2012

The Novelty of Romance

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I’ve been thinking a lot about romance. I think a lot of us here would describe ourselves as “romantics,” although the culture at Cornell beats it out of us. Is it specifically Cornell that’s not romantic, or is romance void throughout the lives of college kids everywhere?

Last weekend my cousin came to visit with her husband. She’s in her late twenties and went to a state school in Pennsylvania. We were walking out of Chapter House around 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday and a guy said, “Where you ladies goin’ so early?” She scoffed, “Oh college boys.”

I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t so offended.

For example, right now as I’m writing this I’m in Starbucks. My computer is about to die and I’m not sitting near an outlet. When my computer dies, I’ll have to go back to my apartment, one block from here, and finish this column. On the other hand, there is a guy at the table next to me that has a free outlet. Would it be creepy or romantic of me to ask him if I could share his table so I could charge my laptop? Would it be neither? I don’t think I’m brave enough. This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve asked myself the question: Creepy or romantic? And it won’t be the last. (Update: Luckily he left and I stole his table. Crisis: averted.)

Where is the most romantic place to meet someone at Cornell? I could list 10: Sunset Park, your favorite Collegetown coffee shop, Dunbars, sitting on the slope at 6:00 a.m., in anatomy class, on a porch, across a beer pong table, in T.A. office hours, at the Regent, your freshman dorm. I’ve been to all of those places, and while the general romantic infrastructure is there, the romantic people are not.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I can think of just two romantic moments I’ve ever had at Cornell. They were both freshman year, and I can barely even imagine what it would be like to experience something like them my senior year.

Everyone is just so jaded! Sincerity is dead! Your charm is just a ruse! We respond to texts three hours later on purpose, we would rather wait to see them out at a party than to just ask them to lunch. Almost every relationship I’ve heard of here has started off as two people hooking up, then deciding to be “exclusive,” then deciding to be in a real relationship. It’s the most deranged three step process I could have never imagined before I came here.

Before I came here, I was in high school. And at least at my high school, everyone dated each other. No one just kept things casual with multiple people at one time, it just wasn’t the culture. But at Cornell, we can have our cake and eat it too! We put too much effort into our school work, our extracurriculars and our job searches. This leaves only leaves room for effortless, convenient love lives.

My point isn’t even that we should all be dating each other. I like keeping it casual as much as the next Cornellian. But I don’t associate romance with the L.T.R. Romance is bringing someone coffee, texting them good morning, kissing them for the first time because you can’t stand it anymore, not because you’re drunk and horny.

Have you ever seen the movie Love Story? It’s first of all, a classic. It’s an Ivy League love story and in it, the Cornell Hockey team beats Harvard. In the movie it’s a bad thing, but when I saw it I was totally amped. Anyway, plot aside, the movie just has the essence of romance. It’s a movie about falling in love, of course, but besides that, it’s got such romantic nuance that I don’t know if I can even describe it. They walk across campus dressed impeccably and roll around in the snow. He drives her around in this sweet British MG T-type. If someone drove me around in that car, bundled for the fall, that would be the supremely enchanting.

So if this is an opinion article, I’m going to have an opinion. I think Cornell lacks romance, and I’m not even going to prescribe that we all romance it up a little bit. What is the point? I think I’ll just wait until I enter the “real world.” Maybe I’m cynical, but I’ve been here for over three years. We might be happier with a little more romance, but I think we’ve all resigned ourselves to wait for the “real world” where everyone is nicer.

Of course, my cynicism won’t stop me from being a romantic. It’s hopeless.

This article is dedicated to Debbie Moyer.

Morgan Bookheimer is a senior in the College of Human Ecology. She may be reached at [email protected]. Behind the Time appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

Original Author: Morgan Bookheimer