At Lewis and Clark, one can witness the complex interactions of rambunctious youths in a closed setting. In particular, the Fields dining room (fondly referred to as “the Bon”) offers rich ground for study, inspection and introspection. Following some clarifying questions to LC locals and anthropologists, the Bon seems like a perfectly normal place for students to socialize and satisfy their hunger, in more ways than one: it is the star-studded stage for modern courtship and amorous encounters.
One such interaction occurs between Danny Fitzpatrick ’22 and Ethan King ’21. Danny has shaggy hair that he partially tucks away in a beanie, covered by layers of jackets, so he can sink away in a corner booth — which is difficult when he walks by, for he stinks of dank patchouli. On the other hand, King has the charisma and laugh of a man destined for a future in politics. His style is more East Coast preppy than West Coast hipster comfort.
The two act as if nobody notices them exchanging sneaky glances and telling smiles from across the a few tables. Their friends implore the pair to “kiss and tell.” They do not say a word but their eyes declare it all, “We’ve boned before…” I hypothesize that they did it in the Bon, but I cannot be certain because the tables have been wiped of any evidence of such behavior. Perhaps some romantic rituals are best left to the mists of mythology and privacy.
From longing stares over plates of onions to awkward eye contact upon entry to the Bon, I bear witness to it all. Sequoia Douglas ’20 and Lydia Samson ’21 recall a night a few weeks ago when they matched on Tinder, a platform commonly used for “hooking up,” or an isolated encounter where two individuals agree to keep their relationship purely physical. During my survey of Samson’s habitation, I noticed that she had stocked her fridge with Douglas’ least favorite flavor of La Croix (coconut) and crispy onions from the Bon. Douglas could have overlooked the La Croix incident as a minor annoyance in anticipation of post-copulation abandonment. If there was a spark, a persuasive La Croix mango conversion conversation could take place post haste.
During one of our more vulnerable interview sessions, Douglas revealed that when her lips met Samson’s, her tastebuds were overwhelmed by the gag-inducing flavor of rancid coconut water and onions. Douglas had to get out of there before gagging turned into full-on vomiting. She sighed while covering her face in shame and running her fingers through her hair.
“Memory is a funny thing that cannot always be suppressed by a bottle of tequila, though we still try,” Douglas said.
Finally, I witnessed a crucial performance native to this social arena: the stand-off. Two once star-crossed lovers from freshman year, Ava Evans ’22 and Keegan James ’22, spot each other across the cutlery counter. James lifts his gaze and opens his mouth to utter a courteous pleasantry when the young woman’s current boyfriend, Taylor Clement ’21, wraps his arm around her. The eyes of lovers past and present meet and a scuffle seems imminent between James and Clement. They accentuate their posture and puff out their chest. They jut out their chins. They act as though they have feathers to ruffle and are two hummingbirds ready to spar.
However, due to cowardice or lack of importance, they move forward with their day without a brawl. The awkward moment is avoided and peace continues for another day.
I continue seeking more coveted specimen(s): two or more partners boning after hours. I act as the anthropological Nancy Drew, investigating under the cover of night in every corner of Templeton. Unless my observations are greatly lacking, it is evident that students know to separate where they Bon from where they bone.
Affectionate displays in this eatery shrouded in mystery are elusive. The only evidence I discover are uniquely-shaped hickies and tall tales of past conquests that allude to being more fiction than reality. However, I will continue my observations in the name of science. The Bon is a treasure trove for interpersonal relations and interactions of college students, an environment to which I am glad to bear witness.
Thank you for reading College Field Diary with scientist and contributor Dr. Daniella Attenberg. Tune in next issue as we investigate “casual activism.”