Last Thursday night was my last Sigma Up Against the Wall, which I can’t say is a huge letdown, as I’m not so great with the country dancing. But I will say that it invited certain feelings of nostalgia, and by the end of the night, blaring Toto’s “Africa” (thanks, William) in the car with some rushees, I was ready to be young. To be wild. And, of course, to be free.
The night progressed beautifully from there.
There were miniature, leaky, plastic cowboy boots involved. There was “Like a Prayer” playing in the kitchen. There was shimmying and a lot of flipping our skirts over our heads. It was a pristine collegiate moment of three girls dancing in their underwear and laughing hysterically that only happens (I think) when you’re 21 and you live with your friends, and, because you’re really young in the scheme of things, it’s exceptional.
Then we went to Bay’s.
We walked out the door with additional eyeliner and clothes that were tighter, shorter or sheerer. The agenda was obvious. Everyone was looking for someone. Bluntly put, we were on the prowl. Motives analyzed, everyone was looking for something; they just didn’t know what, and so they found the easiest solution in a shorter dress.
Walking into the bar, I found myself as if by inertia pulled into a booth with a couple of friends and a kid I kind of know because it’s Trinity, and you kind of know everyone.
Then it was time for games. Here’s how to play. I say English major, he says he loves William Blake. He says he’s Russian, I say, “show me your ID.” He asks me about my piercing and touches my earlobe to see if I’ve ever had them done. If it weren’t for James Jarrott’s mutual understanding and steadying eyebrow sardonically raised across the table, I probably would have laughed in the guy’s face.
Not because anything was funny, per se, but because it all felt so surreal. I was trapped under some near-stranger’s arm looking at his face thinking, “He looks like a marionette, he looks like a marionette. Is this real life?” And looking around the bar, I started to wonder: is this how real life is? Going to bars to find an unknown something you can’t typically find in a bar? Is this the next phase of my life? Prowling through booths with expectations and a glass in my hand?
Welcome to the culture of your 20s. One moment I’m in college land, high kicking in my kitchen to “The Safety Dance” and the next I’ve landed in whatever dance hall David Bowie is singing about in “Life on Mars.” “Look at those cavemen go / It’s the freakiest show!”
I was relieved when my new pal and his best friend left after having some sort of drunken, passive aggressive argument that had all of the unspoken tensions of two cowboys taking a certain mountain by storm for the first time.
And the relief I felt was my ticket to stop panicking. Because if I was relieved to escape the fulfillment of the expectations of bar life, it meant bar life in all of its carnivalesque glory is not something I’m looking to make my own. And if I’m not looking, once I graduate, I won’t have to worry about finding that life to be mine.
Margaret Browne is a senior majoring in English.