Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sir, We're Not All The Same.

So for the first time since fourth grade, I'm attending a co-ed school. The ratio is pretty unbalanced (7:1), based on the fact that this is a military institution where half the students are engineering majors. But the ratio is better than in my high school, and especially than my middle school, where we were cloistered save for a trip to an occassional preppy mixer. Sure, some of the guys in high school had girlfriends. Senior prom, there were some steady dates. They meet their classmates' sisters while putting on musicals and plays,and at family functions like the athletic banquet. They also met girls at church, and in their neighborhood, and at late-night 'social gatherings' (house parties) in Bethesda, Rockville, Captiol Hill, New Alexandria, or University Park.

USMMA's Co-ed decks (but some decks only) are a natural means of mingling. What a difference living with potential dates make. All-boy high school had nowhere near the rumor mill that coed school makes. Furthermore, it's a bigger deal about who's dating who at a school where you recognize all your schoolmates' names.

But who gets friendship and who doesn't? It seems as if varsity athletes are too much, too brute to handle. Ditto the football team. Exceptions are the sailing and crew teams, and certain "adorable" members of the injury list. Certain girls fall for boys in running suits and crutches. Academic difficulty? Women don't want to be with a sinking ship. The Academy's mission is to appoint the 'best and brightest'. (During Indoc, the Drill Instructors made a deal about it: America's Best and it takes you a whole 30 seconds to arrange yourselves in height order??) But, at least to the girls, some Academy boys are 'better and brighter' than others. The boys with the best success tend to be sweet talkers with fluid voices, section leaders, 19 or 20 (rather than merely 18), able to party responsibly (able to get to Penn Station and board the 119 am or 319am train without assistance), have a GPA above 2.6, and are recreational athletes. Yes; I've heard this about recreational athletes at every college: they get dates. So it comes through the pipeline that a plebe boy and a plebe girl had a whole night of fun together in the City. Well, I was going into the pool one evening, and I saw their two names in the logbook. Flip back through the log, and there those two are: always swimming for fun together! If you do pay a visit to another gender's room, the door has to pop open 89 degrees, and the boy better have a shirt on. That last rule doesn't apply in athletic areas. Doesn't studness pays off?

And it progresses. After first meeting, a boy and a girl will first come to sit together in the dining hall. Then the boy will go to the girl's room for help on homework. Then they'll go out together on liberty. Next thing, they're exercising together, and then, they'll go to each other's rooms just to talk. I've seen it progress like that more than once.

For everyone else, there's a whole world waiting for young men in officers' uniform.

No comments: