My first “real” date at Bates: freshmen year, lunch at the “Bobcat Den.” Since then, the Den has been revamped into a miniature on-campus pub.
The alcohol-free Den as I remember it three years ago offered a quiet hideaway where faculty frequently met for lunch and conversation. Students read The Boston Globe and could enjoy a moment to themselves with a sandwich and something from the once world-renowned salad bar.
Walk into the Den today and the varying sounds of the multiple television screens might overwhelm you. Depending on the time of day, you may find students drinking beers, sipping tea, reading, or playing Trivia on Tuesday nights.
Sporting my mom’s old Gap flannel, spandex, and my usual suspect brown boots, I ordered a grilled cheese on wheat with a slice of tomato and grabbed a bag of UTZ Salt & Vinegar chips. Something about ordering a drink during a date, or even in general really, terrifies me. Do I really need a bottle of water? Is that asking too much? Should I just ask for a cup and fill it with water from the soda fountain for free?
That semester, my then-boyfriend called me once late at night around 11pm in the middle of the week, asking if I had time to go out for a surprise. Surprise I thought, what could this mean? A list of possibilities poured into my head: Coldstone (Did I want cake batter or cookie dough? Like it or love it?), homemade chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate from Milt’s, or maybe even all of my favorite snacks laid out in my order of preference (Hard to do, but any effort would have sufficed).
I will make this short, but let’s just say I wound up at Denny’s. I ended up settling for pancakes (free refill), so I am not sure why I am complaining. Nonetheless, this “experience,” for lack of better words, definitely contributed to my regret of not attending college in a big city. At least in New York we could have ended up at the Murray Hill Diner or a cozy coffee shop, and easily have avoided a menu offering ice cream sundaes with bacon bits… really?
Freshman year, only a week into college life and you look around and see that girl from your dorm paired off with that boy you saw during lunch in Commons. Quickly, couples form all around you. How long have they known each other? A week?
I remember my reaction upon first learning that my parents had met in college. Holy crap, this is it? I have four years to find someone like my mom or dad.
To put it into perspective: this meant I had 7 semesters and 3 short terms. Thank God Bates gives us short term: 1,769 students. 47.3% male. This left me with approximately 837 options, rounding up.
Three years ago, a student successfully debunked the Bates myth that nearly two-thirds of Bates alums marry fellow alums. In fact, Maura McGee ’10 found that the figure actually hovers around a much lower 12.5 percent.
According to McGee’s findings, of the 23,356 living alums in the Bates database, 2,914 have a spouse or partner who is also a Bates alum.
Of my current seven roommates, one had an off and on relationship with a high school boyfriend throughout college and now “sees” an alum, and another has dated an alum since her sophomore year at Bates. The remaining five single ladies certainly do not add any validity to the myth.
So why exactly has it been so difficult for us to settle down with other “Batesies”? Ask around at Bates and students’ responses go a little something like this: slim pickings, too busy with academics or athletics, or better yet, they would simply rather stay single.
Back to freshman year, I met a fellow Batesie, who I ended up dating for 2 and a half years. At one point, I too thought that I had done it. Enveloped by “The Sixty Percent Solution” Bates myth that once swarmed campus, I felt certain that my worries over whether to order a drink during a date and disappointments over bizarre so-called “surprises” would finally cease.
Had we stayed together, I probably would not have found myself in my senior year introducing myself to unfamiliar faces, joining new clubs, having more time for my friends, and occasionally making a public fool out of myself, or more precisely, “enjoying college while you can.”
This brings me to my final point: What the heck do the millions of people mean when they say, “Make sure that you enjoy college while you can”? I find myself constantly fighting with this overwhelming piece of advice. How can I possibly strike a balance between academics and my social life? When have you gone out too much on the weekends or not enough? If you have time to watch television during the week, are you really a student enrolled at Bates? Are you even trying?
Okay, so maybe deciding whether or not to go out or watch TV on a weeknight does not usually concern you, but let’s say you have always wanted to attend that one club meeting or see a speaker from a certain department. Go! What’s stopping you? After all, we only attend college once. Make it count—whatever that means.