My mom said I was starting out on the right foot during college orientation by leaning over my seat in the auditorium during our ALCOHOL EDU presentation and introducing myself to a tall, bearded boy. I’m not necessarily the best at just throwing myself out there, and I never have been, but I’d heard about this guy from a friend and thought, Fuck, it’s Ole Miss, how much could any of this matter?
But as college presented its truer self, it started to matter very much how I managed with the opposite sex, and I got good at it. Well. Decent. If it were a pass/fail part of life, I’d pass. My very first weekend in Oxford I met a blond fellow freshman who instantly liked me because of how entirely different I was from him. He isn’t a trust fund kid, but he sure gave off the impression. Instead he is a bank account boy, had some business during high school. And more importantly to me, the kid is frat as all get out. He isn’t my type or whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean, but he’s nice and he calls me and got mad when I didn’t ask him to our sorority formal, but to this day we’ve only gone to dinner once. And when we did he ordered for me. I was not a fan of that.
When I pledged my sorority, this guy made a big deal out of it. Yeah, girl, Sorority H, that’s right where you belong. I was okay with this. He made me realize I was going to have a hard time with frat stars, and that I should probably put my tail between my legs and head back to the hipster kind of guys I’ve always been used to. He hadn’t yet told me that he’d never met a girl like me, no girl who yells “what the (expletive)” when she wants to know what the fuck’s up. That was really his example of my uniqueness. I wasn’t flattered by the distinction. I didn’t want to know that that’s why we hung out.
But beyond the culturally shocked blondness of that boy in his button-ups, I’ve still been pleasantly surprised with the guys I’ve met at Ole Miss and the standards I’ve maintained since meeting them. We here in Oxford joke about the MRS degree, which is no degree at all, just an engagement ring before graduation to your pre-med, pre-pharmacy, pre-law, pre-business beau. The joke is prevalent. We love the joke, we tease each other with it when relationships get serious, but it’s not a joke for most of us. We’re competing to be the top of the class in the MRS department. For me, though, with nothing near a hint of a boyfriend, it’s just easier to be friends with males at this age—easier than dating them, as well as being easier than making female friends.
Guys break the ice with questions like, “Do you like grunge?” (yes, this happened to my roommate at a party), while girls break it with “Oh my gosh… what brand is your headband?” Since my headbands are usually from Walmart, I’d rather talk about Dave Grohl. College guys don’t judge what you drink on Saturday nights or the fact that maybe you drink on Sundays too; they usually just laugh or don’t notice, which is the way the whole world should be.
In wanting to just be friends with guys, I’ve found a means of meeting the best of them. Just kidding, there’s loads of shitheads. But the simplicity of accepting that I’m not among the most beautiful on the most beautiful campus in the country has helped me appreciate what does set me apart from others at Ole Miss. I don’t dig the guys that most girls do.
First of all, I don’t exactly give a shit about their Greek affiliations, or even if they pledge allegiance to one at all. GDI (yes, that does stand for Goddamn Independent) boys are the same to me as fraternity boys, except without the prospect of a formal each semester in New Orleans. But I like GDIs, if that can be considered anything but the largest of generalizations. I’ve always had a thing for the hip kind of guy who’s read what I have or wears Ray-Ban black framed reading glasses. Hipster boys. Someone who thinks the same things about music and art as I do. Most sorostitutes (yes, people do say that), though not all, are friendly to the hip, but are largely uninterested.
Second, I don’t think the “hot” guys here are hot. I usually dig big old cuddly things, not jackhammer-carved ab-lounging bros. In high school I was all about some long lanky boys in skinny jeans and flannel shirts, but after dumping the only person I ever really dated, I realized lanky and indie isn’t really as great a category as I thought. I like big, masculine guys. A man’s man, if you will. I hope you are taking notes!! But the girls of my ever-beautiful little world think that, in terms of the physical, I have bad taste because I don’t go for baseball or football players. Maybe this preference for the bigger and more comfortable will evolve. Maybe! Hopefully, say my friends who like athletes, for my sake.
I started college with the absolute intent of maintaining my hip qualities while still participating in a sorority. I wanted one of the downtown indie bookstore boys to sweep me off my feet with a quote from TS Eliot or some shit. Or may I’d knock one of them dead with my linguistic skills and hair. I wanted my heart to turn obscure cartwheels to the tune of Bon Iver’s first album. I wanted love to hit me hard, for potential husbands to show themselves immediately and declare themselves such with all creative displays of GDI affection.
But at some point I meet a guy, a guy in a fraternity actually, a person who doesn’t seem like a fraternity boy or anything worth a stereotype, and it’s not my heart that starts fluttering, it’s my brain matter. At some point it’s no longer that I imagine romance and incredibly obvious displays of affection—candlelit dinners or mixtapes. Instead, it’s just a look and then one date that reveals that yes, this one could take care of me in some small way and would be compatible with my idiosyncrasies, this one, here, this one makes sense, who gives my brain the pitter-patter of a preteen heart.
A boy at a bookstore might be trendy and well-versed in Hart Crane, but I’m trendy and have my own copy of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Why not look for a complement to what I desire, not something desirous in itself? Yeah. Maturity. Figuring myself and someone else into the idea of a long-run success story without warrant—an MRS degree in its own right, of commitment to a new set of ideals.
Somebody told me it seemed like I should do something fulfilling instead of remaining in a sorority at Ole Miss. I don’t seem the type. Well, as I’m learning, there are other ways to be fulfilled than through pretention and fine taste in literature. I’m figuring this out more and more each day in this strange and strangely wonderful little place, through not only the relationships I make, but also those I choose not to make. With guys at Ole Miss, there’s a major system of classification, whether within the Greek system or outside of it. But meeting and dating such different people is one of the things that has helped me understand what’s great about this world. People are people. Big guys that I like, baseball players that my floormates desire, entirely the same. I don’t really remember what I came to college expecting in terms of relationships, except that it was complex and romantic. Now I know I just want it to make sense. That’s the best I can hope for, surrounded by the obsessive ideal of MRS degrees. Cheesy but heartfelt sentiment.
A meaningful way to say boys boys boys boys boys.