I’m going out. The girls are competing for mirror space, deliberating over bags, fawning over each other’s dresses. The boys: attempting maximum preparation, with minimum conspicuousness. Did you use hair product? No? Well neither did I.
And so the games begin. There will be losers. Some may fall by the wayside. Some may not even make it to Willow. But the chosen few, those of iron belly and silver tongue, will claim their prize. By 3am, we rat-arsed revellers will be coupling up and grabbing the nearest taxi back to seal the deal in bodily fluids.
Yet the awkward morning will bring only shame, regret, and disapproving looks from assorted waterfowl. The whole sordid endeavour was focused on reaching this one soulless climax, which in the chilly Yorkshire morning is little more than a blurred memory.
And as I think back on it, I ask myself: where was the fun? Was it in the coup de grace, with the room spinning and the blood thumping in my ears, as a gruesome cocktail sloshed around in my stomach? Or was it in the thrilling chase of the preceding hours, when mystery and desire still filled the air?
Indiscriminate, obligation-free sex is one of the main pursuits of a fresher, a hobby officially recognised by the university some years ago, kindly catered for by zero-weighting most first year marks. And I thoroughly endorse this indulgence. But it seems that in a desperate effort to reach that ultimate goal, a lot of the fun that can be had along the way is neglected. Apart from a brief hollering of names into each other’s ears at the edge of a crowded dance floor, the period between meeting and rutting is often devoid of any kind of personal connection, condensed into a mere spate of grinding and clumsy snogging.
But so much enjoyment can be had in the build up to the big O. First, gauging each other’s interest, whilst feigning disinterest yourself. Throwing in a cheeky but nonchalant complement or two, pausing with eye contact for just that little bit too long. The thrill of the first touch – always ostensibly innocent: an arm, a hand, the small of the back – but always loaded with meaning. And then there are the conversational games to play. Do you accentuate your shared interests, or flirtatiously spar over your differences? How will you walk the titillating tightrope between flattery and insult? And just how will you get into their pants?
These exciting nuances are lost when we throw ourselves together, like demolition ball to brick, smashed. But there is an alternative, one rarely considered by either sex on the clubnight treadmill: Dating.
A date can be one of the most erotically charged experiences us young things engage in. Many of us shy away from the perceived formality of it, but if we embrace that structure, and revel in the ability to prolong the chase, the rewards are boundless. The question then becomes not the mercenary ‘your place or my place?’ but ‘will this picnic in the museum gardens end in a cheeky kiss?’
Quaint? Perhaps. But I guarantee you the frisson and the rush will be all the greater. A moonlit walk down to Rowntrees Park, with its suspension bridge all lit up in blue, is so much more memorable than a night drowned in similarly fluorescent Salvation shots.
But fear not, randy fresher, for there will be fornication. How could there not be, after allowing those sexual undercurrents to tug, tease, and swell for so long? And what’s more, the sex will be all the better. Something that rarely kindles in a drunken pass, but can hardly fail to smoulder over the course of a few evenings – a connection with the other person – leads to passionate, playful, proper sex.
So the next time your loins are burning for some bright-eyed slice who’s caught your thoughts, do it the old fashioned way, and pick them up at eight.