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I love the touching

I think most of us can attest to the fact that Duke does “interaction” a little differently than the outside world. It seems like when we return to Duke to start a new year, we have to relearn how to socialize.

We must inevitably endure a readjustment period, and it can be pretty darn awkward. Getting used to constantly seeing people you know, settling into classes and reacquainting oneself to college night-life lend themselves to a whole lot of awkwardness. It’s actually quite easy to make a fool of yourself around here—a run-through of things that happen on a typical day at Duke is evidence enough.

Just leaving your dorm to start your day, the awkwardness can blindside you. Imagine this: You see someone walking towards you on a nearby sidewalk. It’s someone you recognize, but don’t know very well (maybe someone from your freshman dorm). What do you do?

As your paths near convergence, both of your eyes steal glances at each other, trying to get a read on what discussion tactic the other will choose. Even if you decide to speak (hopefully saying something brilliant like “Hey! How was your summer?”), he/she could pretend not to recognize you. If you decide not to speak, opting for either blatant ignoring or the ever-popular “engrossed in the cell phone” move, you risk coming off as a total jerk.

I say, embrace the terribly unoriginal “Where are you living? What did you do this summer?” conversation! You never know when you might need to make a shout-out to that person to make you look cool as you cruise down the Plaza.

Now, let’s get physical. Duke loves touching. All sorts of touching. Touching that is usually all awkward. I’m going to pretend like I’ve never participated in the touching that occurs past 10 p.m. My mom and dad are going to read this. So let’s focus on G-rated, well-lit, weekdays.

Say you’ve been fortunate enough to encounter a friend you know fairly well while strolling across Main West Quad. As you’re parting ways after a quick convo, you have another big decision to make. Simply say goodbye, or bust out an old-fashioned embrace?

I’ve certainly been the victim of mixed signals in this type of situation, especially because I’m a hugger, and these days not many people are. So, just for your information, going in for a hug when the other person isn’t game can lead to some very awkward hand-placeage.

How do you hug someone wearing a backpack? How do you recover from a boob graze? Maybe we should switch to the side-hug, since those always go smoothly (since they would only let me have one headshot, envision me rolling my eyes).

And let’s not forget going out. Many Dukies can’t wait to go out at night in hopes of shedding their daytime insecurities and transforming into mega-cool party hoppers, a transition which just isn’t possible for some. Not only do the run-ins mentioned above continue to happen at night, but both alcohol and dancing are added to the mix. Danger, danger, danger!

From what I’ve witnessed (and only witnessed, mom), there are a great number of people on this campus that were not blessed with rhythm but have the unwavering belief that they were. Alcohol only encourages this. Yes, awkwardness rules the dance floor as well. You see signature dance moves, like my favorite, the “jump up and down while waving your arms excitedly with the occasional fist pump,” while you try not to see the attempts at seduction going on between crotchal regions.

Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., students may think that they escape the inelegance, but it is still obvious to observers, and is once again evident to us the next morning, when we must face our demons in Alpine Bagels. I’m sad to say that neither the moon nor booze can stop the cycle.

If we put forth our best efforts at trying to readapt, we can’t really blame ourselves for the unavoidable missteps and embarrassments.

So why not yell and wave across the quad to the people you recognize?  What’s really stopping you from spreading the love and side-hugging? And who cares if you throw in a little fist-pumping on the d-floor? But for goodness sake, just don’t do the Macarena.

Anna Sadler is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs every other Tuesday.


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