For you Brown kids: Imagine Soldiers' Arch, at exactly midnight on a warm, clear night of senior year. You are standing in the most serene evening spot on campus, where the dim sidewalk lights of Lincoln Field flood the old brick walls of Metcalf, and the surrounding bushes muffle the ruckus of Thayer Street. You gaze into the blue-blue eyes of your sweetheart, the shy Texan with rosy cheeks who you met just three days into freshman year (ah, unit love). The entire green is yours to enjoy, with only Marcus Aurelius watching from a distance. You kiss. And with that, your future is secure. You are destined to marry the Texan, support him through the stresses of law/business/med school, and have beautiful babies who will one day walk the very campus where their parents fell in love.
Or so the story goes. As fondly as I now recall it, I can not seem to remember the first time I heard this beloved Brown legend. It could have been the day I first set foot on College Hill, during the requisite campus tour, when I was also told to rub the nose of John Hay and avoid the Pembroke Seal. Or maybe one of the freshmen told me at ADOCH, sometime between the talent show and the awkward ice cream social. In any case, the story made a lasting impression, so that now I can’t help but blush when the idyllic image comes to mind.
The legend continues in the Brown Alumni Magazine. Every month, I resentfully peruse BAM for the quaint stories of those happy couples of the past who managed to find love on campus. There will be a grandchild update from Susie Smiles (’56), who had a crush on husband Tommy Touchdown (‘53) even before she joined the cheerleading squad; or an announcement of vow-renewal from Zoe Zero and Simon Sulk (’88 and ’88.5), who fell in love while reciting each other’s angst-ridden poems across the tables of the Ivy Room.
Sadly, those days exist no longer. The problem with the Soldiers Arch legend is that it is a complete fallacy. A cruel joke. A sham. Truth be told, long-term or even casual dating barely exists at Brown today, let alone marriage proposals and happily-ever-afters. At
Thus, I propose a challenge to my fellow graduates: forget that I’m-too-intellectual-for-romance smugness. We're supposed to be adults now, so try, just once, to go on a date date. Just because we're not on campus doesn't mean we have to leave behind the Soldiers' Arch, ivy-league magic.