Sometimes, I feel like I’ve made my way back across the Atlantic to an alien planet.
I was never more acutely aware of my return to Duke until I strapped on a pair of roller skates and attempted to traverse a rink coated in spilled beer without emptying my own Solo cup. The roller-skating date function is one of those peculiar Duke institutions that mixes highly dangerous activities with funny costumes, and thus ultimately results in pictures you later regret made it on Facebook.
This four-wheeled date function season lasts through the spring semester, peaking during Greek recruitment. This phenomenon can be explained by the correlation between man-flirting and one’s ability to perform cool tricks on wheels, and the result of the natural selection that occurs when anyone combines inebriation with athletic activities.
Themes for these events are usually retro in nature, though retro in this case means, “Dress in a way that would be humiliating in any other context.” I’ve found it’s useful to invest in a single hideous T-shirt for all skating events, ’80s parties, Tailgate and any themed festivities that have the word hoe in the title.
Putting the shirt to use once again and observing the orthopedic nightmare around me, I wondered how this event would be viewed in the eyes of the general, god-fearing public. Most of the words that came to mind were too politically incorrect to be printed in a college newspaper.
There are many other aspects of life on this eccentric collegiate planet that seem to be pulled from an addled mind’s psychedelic adventure. After drunken bro-mantic pair skating comes to an end and the rush season nears its inevitable conclusion, there are some schools where the opposite sex takes center stage and all homoerotic undertones come to a screeching halt. These events involve movement between themed rooms expressed through genres of alcohol. And girls filled with primeval aggression and a proclivity for violence.
Chocolate condiments and power quickly go to people’s heads. Still, you can only shout in the faces of bid-seeking freshmen boys so many times before you’ve awkwardly run out of things to say and just demand they do some push-ups. The search for open-ended questions and ways to fill the time during these events blurs the distinction between this peculiar process and the general strategy of other kinds of recruitment.
The National Organization for Women would likely get their panties in an uncomfortable twist if they ever received word of such an affair. Most of what takes place, however, is no kinkier than what you saw on the Shooters dance floor last night (last time I checked public sex was still illegal).
The show may not be suitable for all audiences, but it just might make it past the censors of ABC Family (though things can get pretty racy on The Secret Life of An American Teenager). Such events are also one of the few venues refusing to pass judgment on displays of female dominance and otherwise unladylike behavior. Empowerment is in the eye of the beholder.
Roller skates and chocolate syrup and make-out sessions between strangers. All beautiful manifestations of an alien culture. It’s good to be home.