Throughout life, opportunities present themselves to achieve adulthood: bar mitzvahs soundtracked by early 2000s Black Eyed Peas, successfully doing your own taxes and making it down Sheridan hungover in the tundra that is "Autumn" in Evanston, just to name a few.
So arriving in suburban Illinois as a naïve, impressionable Northwestern freshman, I ventured to find my own path to manhood, the site to transform my existence into a life of wisdom, experience and a constant search for employment because I chose to major in journalism.
I had heard rumblings of a place – a sacred, hallowed ground where a boy becomes a man – and I set off to find it, following the words of a wise prophet who said that in life one must “take a journey to the realm of the truth.” That prophet was Lil’ Kim, and this is my night at the Deuce.
Location: North Campus
Day: Thursday (because if you aren’t going to the Deuce on a Thursday that is a cry for help)
10:55 p.m. A gaggle of Elder girls approaches me to ask if I want to Uber with them to the Deuce. I think a ratio exists that for every four straight girls there has to be one gay guy to balance it out, and I hate myself immensely for fulfilling that proportion, but who am I to say no to a social invitation. Let’s perpetuate stereotypes of token gays! I’m also convinced that Uber gets a hefty chunk of its revenue from overeager North campus freshmen and that all the drivers hate us. So why not!
11:15 p.m. I’m not feeling this whole "last person at the party is the coolest" thing. What happened to being on time? Why is it cool to show up at the Deuce at midnight, which is literally the next day? I understand the important balance necessary for lighting and courting (this summer I went on coffee dates at ten at night; I get how good people look without natural lighting), but also sleep.
11:30 p.m. I rally the troops (an army of girls wearing body-con dresses under their North Faces) to hit the town. Everyone does that thing where we all look at each other and ask who is going to call the Uber because nobody wants that burden.
11:32 p.m. Is anyone calling this Uber?
11:33 p.m. Ugh. I’ll do it.
11:37 p.m. Jared arrives in his tricked out Toyota Corolla (by tricked out I mean that it has Sirius and air conditioning). We share a knowing look as I give him the address and he mentions he knows the owner of the bar. I can’t tell if that scares me or not, but of course someone in the backseat drops that she is a freshman, so I have to play it cool. I am holding this team together.
11:45 p.m. Is this the Deuce? Or is it the world’s saddest dive bar turned graveyard? I’m really scared that this is now my life, but I’m mostly nervous that someone will see me here. That would be a valid concern if there were more than a dozen people here. Why is nobody here?
11:48 p.m. Apparently nobody comes until 12 so I hide in the bathroom until I hear civilization arrive. While in the bathroom I google "average salary with journalism degree" and realize this night has just got a little darker. This is rough. This is real. This is college.
11:50 p.m. I’m wondering if this is what my parents are paying tuition for. Do I have an essay due Monday? The music playing is a choice mix of Ke$ha and early 2000s pop, so the mood is a little bit of Kidz Bop and a lot of shame. I’m not against it and I dance because at this point, why not?
Midnight I don’t know if this is some reverse-Cinderella shit because at least 60 people have come on the exact minute of midnight. I chuckle to myself because all of them are J-Crew robots, but then I realize I am one of them.
12:30 a.m. I have evolved from the role of "the guy who latches on to the three people he knows" to the group photographer. I am apparently taking good photos because one of the girls mentions that “gay guys are great iPhone photographers,” and I take what I can get compliment-wise. I am the Annie Leibowitz of cellular photo shoots. The amount of sorority-squat pics I am taking is overwhelming, so I hold my phone in one hand and my wallet in the other and shrug whenever people ask if I can take photos.
1:00 a.m. Who is this person that has literally been bumping into me for the past eight minutes? Not in the way that happens because this place is a mob scene but in the tryna way. My back is so sweaty it looks like a Rorschach test so I’m not surprised that I’m being courted by a gentleman caller. I can do this or take more photos of screaming girls in miniskirts, so it’s a Sophie’s Choice situation right now.
1:04 a.m. Can I go back to being the on-call photographer or hide in a bathroom or write a paper or do literally anything but this because I feel as though my face is being attacked. How do I make this stop? Can someone please Step Up! for my awful hookup right now (though props to my would-be hookup because he asked me multiple times for consent so that’s something)?
1:08 a.m. I’m covertly texting people to Step Up! for me right now because this is bad. He is bad. Why am I here? Ugh.
1:10 a.m. One of the multiple people I SOS-ed finally comes over and says to me “your Mom is calling my phone” which is both uncomfortable and weird because why would my mother have her number. But right now I’m taking anything I can to escape so I give a quirky and dramatic shrug that I hope signals "how awkward my mom is calling me even though it is 2 a.m. back in New York, whoops! It happens, right? Moms are so wild" and run away. Can’t a boy just dance?
1:20 a.m. "Anaconda" comes on so maybe this whole night has been worth it. Maybe all of the trials and tribulations and heart/lip-ache and that six dollar Uber ride mean something? Maybe all of those Wildcat Welcome week dances and awful Facebook album names were right, that there is NU place I’d rather be?
1:45 a.m. Just kidding some girl spilled her drink on me while she danced/flailed to "Break Free" (also I think she is crying so I do not want to go near that situation). This is officially the 10th Circle of Hell. Do I know anybody here? I do! She’s making out with some rando, so I’ll let them wrap it up before I return to civilization/flee.
2:10 a.m. Still standing in the corner, avoiding the guy from before who keeps texting me and trying to make eye contact with me. I know they say that beggars can’t be choosers but right now I am choosing and I do not choose you.
2:30 a.m. I’m done. I drag my “friend” (I put friend in quotes because I have known this person for a week. I haven’t spoken to her since.) through the crowded haze of stale body odor and designer cologne and into the light. By light I mean anywhere but here. It’s a religious moment stepping outside and into an Uber.
2:50 a.m. Home. I almost do a fall-to-your-knees-and-kiss-the-ground moment to celebrate this Odyssean return, but I can’t remember the last time I vacuumed so I think I’ll pass.
10:05 a.m. With more shame, less dignity and a lovely few texts to wake up to (true quotes: “How was ur nite?,” “lol rough im guessing?,” “Do you remember me?”), I roll into class, none-the-wiser and a little more jaded.