It’s about that time again: as the semester starts drawing to a close, sorority and fraternity formals grow near. For us girls, frat formals don’t mean much. If we are asked to attend one, it’s either by a friend we have absolutely no interest in, yet we go anyway for the free booze and to hit on his friends, or by the guy we’re kinda-sorta hooking up with. (This is assuming, of course, that I am speaking to an audience of single ladies, like myself, and we don’t have actual boyfriends in frats. That would be a different story.) Regardless, a frat formal is smooth sailin’, since we’re not the ones who have to impress.
A sorority formal, on the other hand, is an absolute nightmare. Everything about it is stressful. From the day formal is announced at that fateful chapter, wheels start turning as you mercilessly rack your brain for someone you can take as your date. Sure, you can always take a good girlfriend, but it is ALWAYS more fun to take a guy, and one that you preferably want to show off to the rest of the sorority. For those of us who are perpetually single (represent, what up), the announcement of an upcoming formal usually means the official commencement of my “Pre-Formal Desperation Phase.” The PFDP has historically consisted of my girlfriends and I going bar-hopping way too often, and aggressively flirting with guys we hope to make our boyfriends/fiancés by the time formal rolls around. This inevitably results in a few uncomfortable make-outs and a LOT of numbers we have no intention of ever calling.
However, in my experience, there is typically one not-so-awful guy that comes out of the PFDP. He is usually pretty average, but something about your limited interaction with him makes you think, “Hmm, maybe there is formal potential here.” You end up asking him because A. you are desperate and B. you can’t stand the thought of asking your gay guy friend to go with you…again. Your Average Joe happily obliges to being your formal date, and you over-compensate for the awkwardness that is sure to come by being overly chatty and having that extra glass of vino you know you probably shouldn’t have.
And so you go to formal and it is…average. You half-heartedly introduce Average Joe to your peers as you begin to realize you really shouldhave just taken a girlfriend or the gay BFF, and by the end of the night the two of you have parted ways and you’re just dancing with your gals, anyway.
And so, with my senior year fall formal fast approaching, I remember the mistakes of years past and cringe when I think of all the Average Joes I’ve taken to formal. And yet, I’d like to raise my metaphorical glass in a toast: Here’s to the month of November, where I will – once again – shamelessly flirt with multitudes of ordinary guys in the hopes that one will accompany me to formal.