My View from South Hill
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Three young women were each given an opportunity to come up with a creative answer to that question last Friday evening, hopefully one that would persuade a young man on the other side of a screen to choose them for a date. An audience of several hundred students sat in the café at IC Square, howling their appreciation at clever answers.
And so the Dating Game made its annual appearance at Ithaca College.
Organized by the student group IC After Dark on the evening before Valentine’s Day, the Dating Game provided featured entertainment during a party at which you could also make valentine cards, have a laminated photo taken of yourself with a date or with friends, or even play poker in “the back room.” Sandwiches, juices, and amazingly delicious cheese cake added to the good spirits.
In the real world, the word “bachelor” has become a bit rare to describe a single man. The word “bachelorette” has completely disappeared, if it ever actually existed. But for two campy hours, bachelors and bachelorettes asked each other ridiculous questions and improvised flirty answers through three rounds of play. I was asked to serve as host, introducing the bachelors and bachelorettes to the audience and then inviting audience participation to help each contestant choose the winning suitor through their applause and cheers.
- If your date was in the bathroom and their ex called on their cell phone sitting in front of you, would you answer it?
- If you could use only one condiment for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- Let’s hear your ending to this sentence: “I’d do anything for you except …”
These were just some of the questions that tested the creativity and romantic proclivities of student contestants. I learned that if our students were stranded on a desert island with only one possession, they would want to have with them a good book, an ipod, or “Just you, baby, just you” (said with the breathiest possible voice).
Asked "What Disney character best represents you and why?", Bachelor #2 said the Genie in Aladdin, because he likes to be funny. The contestant said she would have preferred to hear that the reason was to make her wishes come true, so of course Bachelor #3 immediately answered the same question by saying he would be the Genie in order to make her wishes come true. Low marks for originality, but an A+ for picking up on the cues.
One bachelor candidate tried the unusual approach of acting as if he didn’t want to be there and had no interest in a date. Asked "If you took out a personal ad, what would it say?" this bachelor answered "Leave me alone.” He was not chosen.
It is always a great privilege for me to watch students at play. At one level, the experience reinforces the generational gulf between us. When the bachelors and bachelorettes were invited to name their favorite song, the only group I recognized was the Jonas Brothers. And I gathered from the audience reaction that this choice was not high on their list of who’s hot.
Even for an oldster like me, though, it was easy to recognize how important campus-wide social gatherings are to the IC educational experience. Relaxing together after the rigors of coursework, internships, paid employment and the other demands on their time, this party and others like it during the year enable students to have the kind of bonding experiences that lead one later on to recall the college years as among the best and most influential of one’s life.
What a privilege that I could be a small part of that experience! And I now have a laminated photo of myself with six happy students as a reminder of that privilege.
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