“We hooked up.”
As Josie and the Pussycats would say, it’s three small words. Three words should be simple, right?
Wrong. At least according to you kids, who can’t even seem to agree on the definition of hooking up when we surveyed you this weekend. Granted, that’s the beauty of the phrase – it’s clear that something happened, but you don’t have to go into the gory details. Some things are better left to the imagination. (And let’s be honest – we’ve all had hookups we’d like to pretend happened differently, or maybe not even at all.) But seeing as it’s Sex Week, this seems as good a time as any, paraphrasing Raymond Carver, to look at what we talk about when we talk about hooking up.
We asked 30 of you at romantic hot spots (err, lukewarm spots?) Norris and Café Ambrosia to find out what you are getting up to in your rooms, South Beach and the library study rooms (for shame, all of you.), and discover why none of you can describe exactly what it is you’re doing.
The main problem with the hookup debate is that there are no boundaries for the territory it covers. Depending on who you are, a hookup can be as innocent as a short makeout sesh, or as hot and heavy as doing the deed in the overused Shepard practice rooms.
“It’s a vague term because it’s an image of two things coming together, and that could be a number of happenings,” said Communication sophomore Michelle Soffen. “We really should come to a consensus, though.”
For NU students, the key distinction is whether making out is included under the umbrella of hooking up, or whether it deserves its own category. Seventy percent of you thought that making out counts as a hookup, although some tried to further complicate the issue by splitting hairs about time or state of consciousness. (Does it count if you only made out for a minute? What if you don’t remember it?)
Although you were in the minority, the other 30 percent of you insisted that hooking up consists of more than just playing tonsil hockey for a few minutes at a frat party. The feeling among the dissenters was that if there isn’t a term for it (or you’re too embarrassed to describe it), it’s hooking up. If you can say “We made out,” you should. There’s no need to make us more confused than we already are.
The main factors determining your definition of a hookup were age and experience. Upperclassmen were more likely to raise the stakes for calling your debauchery a hookup, with 56 percent saying you need to do more than make out to earn the dubious distinction of a hookup. In contrast, out of the people who wanted the bar set a little lower, 81 percent were underclassmen. Maybe age does lead to wisdom- or maybe just a few too many experiences you’d rather remain insignificant.
The more experienced among you were far more likely to downplay the significance of your actions. People who hadn’t lost their virginity said unanimously that making out counts as hooking up, while only 60 percent of those who had already cashed in their V-card agreed. It’s all about perspective: Once you’ve gotten it on in a Tech classroom or the Shakespeare Garden, it’s easy to forget that drunk guy you kissed at the Keg last week.
Gender wasn’t as much of a determinant as age or virginity, although the girls were a little more lenient with their definitions. Twenty-six percent of the ladies thought that hooking up requires more action than just making out; thirty percent of the guys were more than happy to agree. Just don’t ask them about starting a relationship.
Seriously, though, this isn’t rocket science. Why is it still so hard for us to reach a consensus on this (sometimes) sticky topic?
It’s possible that the problem is good old-fashioned modesty. Maybe you just don’t like telling people the intimate details of your personal life. Saying “we hooked up” is definitely an easy way to tiptoe around a potentially damning admission, and it sounds a whole lot better than “We made out in Chris’s bathroom until my bra got caught on the shower curtain and I almost twisted my ankle.” In a weird way, maybe “hookup” actually helps us save face sometimes.
If you’re looking for the real culprit, though, think back about eight years. Remember middle school, when any conquest had to be described in bases – even if you didn’t know the first thing about baseball? We’ve all heard variations for every base, from kissing to blow jobs to something mysterious called “necking” (It’s unclear whether the term or the action itself is now obsolete). We may have graduated from the base system to slightly more adult terms, but the definitions haven’t gotten any less vague.
“I think it depends how old you are when you first learn it, because that’s how you think of it from then on,” said Soffen, of the phrase.
So help us out, Sex Week. We might never figure out exactly what we’re doing, but we at least deserve the dignity of knowing what to call it, since we’ve apparently left the rest of our dignity somewhere in the East Tower of the library. If you find it, hook us up.