Obies Can’t Flirt, And Honestly Neither Can We

A Turk and an Indian walked into a punchline in a bar on Main Street and asked the barkeep for a pint of Guinness each. Sitting down to nurse their much needed draughts of life-giving barley juice, the two best friends poured out the tragedies of their lives. As the pints drained away, conversation turned to the most pressing problem:

KK: How can I tell if someone is flirting with me?

AA: I don’t know, but if you ever find out, let me know.

So, in a state not nearly inebriated enough to warrant such an idea, this moderately unhinged pair agreed to write an article. They set out to demystify the cruel and treacherous waters of Oberlin flirtations. 

AA: Let’s get real for a hot second. Does anyone really know how to flirt? What even is flirting? My experience so far of flirting with people has been mainly just being weird. If they match your level of weirdness, there you go, you found yourself an Obie. Probably. Maybe. I wouldn’t trust myself; you shouldn’t either. 

KK: I should interject to say I don’t trust you, and it sounds very much like you can’t flirt worth a dime. I should also say your conduct is embarrassing, but I’m constantly going out to dinner either unaware it’s a date, or worse, wrongly assuming it is. Honestly, the genuinely mortifying part of all of this is: we’re not the only ones!

AA: This campus is so bad at flirting that there have been several dating apps developed by students to compensate for this incompetency. Not only apps, but also Instagram accounts! Paire, obieconfessions, and even the College felt so bad for us that Mudd Center brought back blind dates! Yo, wanna elaborate on that, editor boy?

KK: Well, if we’re spilling state secrets — yes, I went on a blind date once. It was on Zoom. The Grape both orchestrated and published an article about it. My parents and brother read that article and laughed at my immaculate “moves.” Tragically, I wore my date-night sweater with a shawl collar and elbow patches, and I like to think I looked spiffy … my words, on the other hand, were a travesty.

AA: You know what else is causing these flirting failures? Intimidation. It is hard to just walk up to someone and make it clear that you like them. Playing with hair, caressing their arm, laughing at even the dumbest of jokes, giggling, complimenting them, putting your hand on their back, making them feel like they are the center of the room, and in general making yourself vulnerable and leaving yourself at their mercy all sounds very romantic and flirty until the other person goes, “Not interested, bud.” Boom! That didn’t actually happen, but the fear and the possibility are real. 

Is flirting dead? Are we only left with “wyd”s? But who am I to judge — I’m the most oblivious person ever and have attachment issues enough for the entire campus!

KK: The romantic disasters that Obies are, even when we do hit it off with someone during a night on the town, we can’t seem to help but stumble carelessly into the friendzone. Every time a couple walks through the Arb I can just imagine a shadowy outline on the horizon claiming two new souls for the FZ. Inevitably though, Oberlin is so small that you will either fall for a friend or just flounder through a tinder date with someone who will eventually become your lab partner.

AA: A friend of mine once went on a Tinder date to Kim’s. They came back all confused and said, “I don’t think this was a date, I think it was one of those friend things. Although his friends did act weird when they saw us together, they made innuendos, I think. My date got flustered and shooed them away.” All at once, the rest of us screeched, “And you don’t think that was a date?” The friend continued, “I mean, I don’t think he was flirting with me. Personally, I didn’t know how. I just made eye-contact — unlike daily life.” Oh, honey, he was flirting with you, which is probably why he got flustered. But to be fair, I’ve been there.

KK: Unfortunately, it’s also possible to swing too far in the other direction, and assume too much. 

AA: A different friend of mine said to me, “Well … we were supposed to watch this animated series that he likes very much, so I went to his place. Everything was ready, the laptop and the popcorn were on his bed. I was putting my backpack down and taking off my coat when I realized he went silent. I turned back to see what was up with him, until I realized nothing was. He was naked. No sight of either the laptop nor the popcorn. And I thought, ‘Welp, I guess we are not watching the show.”

With the Guinness knocked back, and the bar on Main Street shuttering its doors, these world-wisened writers wondered why their flirting was altogether so appalling. Why did it seem like everyone around them was so equally hopeless? Casting these thoughts aside, the two knew what to do next: leave the bar and head home.

AA: By the way Kar, wyd tonight ;D