I’d consider myself a seasoned formal veteran. As such, I have acquired a bit of wisdom as far as formal do’s and dont’s. Whether you are a freshman going to formals for the first time or even a senior not affiliated in the Greek circuit, I have chosen a recent and epic failure at Greek formal-ing that will hopefully teach you from my mistakes… or at least give you a good laugh.
The Blind Date
Blind dates are quite common in the formal world. Twice now I have agreed to help out a friend of a friend who “just can’t get a date.” This would be the red flag for most girls – why on earth can’t this dude nab a date?! – but I, blinded by naivete and the prospect of free food and drinks, always acquiesce. My second transgression was just a few weeks ago. We get to the place, which happened to be a $30 cab ride away, making my chances of leaving slim to hitchhiking. We pre-gamed in a hotel room, where my date doted on me. And by “doted,” I mean basically poured booze down my throat. I even started pouring drinks down the drain out of fear of being too drunk around strangers. (Go me!)
We get to the formal and since he planned it, he left me every 5 minutes to “take care of things.” He couldn’t get me a wristband for whatever reason but brought me a flask of vodka (red flag #2). I decided to have a little chat with him about expectations, which was me conveying my disinterest in anything but “cutesy dancing” and eating and drinking. As well as I thought that went, when we got to the dance floor it was obvious that “cutesy dancing” did not register on his radar, or that maybe he thought grinding me against a wall was cute.
He later asked me to accompany him to the hotel room, and I politely declined (and threw up in my mouth a little bit). Looking defeated, he hugged me (an attempt to lure me into his bed, I presume) and ended up giving me a nice cigarette burn in the process. Once that wound is gone, I hope to completely forget that formal, but I know that little round scar with be a lifelong reminder to never return to another formal again.
But even though I was scarred for life (literally), there is some good to come from this. Namely, the lessons I will pass onto you:
Lesson 1: Your best bet is to bring a “friend”
Unless you are hooking up with someone, bring a friend and set the terms before you go. “Wanna be my date to formal, you know, go as just friends?” Formals are like the older, slutty cousin of Prom; they can be a fantastic dance party extravaganza, or the longest, most awkward night of your life if you do not properly set the terms with your date.
Lesson 2: Though the drinks will be flowing, be classy
Some of the most fun formals will be hosted by fraternities that can get away with having an open bar and tons of minors. Not coincidentally, some of my most embarrassing moments in life have occurred at or after these events. No matter how good the song is, avoid break dancing, doing a split, or really any type of dance-off – you will be photographed…and tagged. Don’t skip the food to have more time and room to drink – it has never ended well for me or any sloptart I have seen do it.
Lesson 3: Hooking up with your date’s “brother” has consequences
I had a friendship ruined because of a guy bringing me as a potential hookup when I thought we were friends, and me blatantly “mingling” with his brother in front of his face. Oops! Thanks, ice luge. Chances are, if you end up with another brother and are hoping it remains a secret, it definitely won’t. Frat boys are just as gossipy as your average girl and even use their chapter email servers to send embarrassing or funny (or “fratty”) emails to and the all the bros. The truth will come out!
Lesson 4: Bring a Water Bottle
Those long bus or cab rides back are brutal after 6 hours of open bar heaven. Come prepared. Most bus companies charge $500 or more if someone hurls on the seats, and one wrong splash could get you blacklisted from fraternity events for.e.verrrrr.
That’s all for now – I am officially formal jaded!