Slice of Life: Setting the Valentine’s Day scene

Famed anthropology professor Barbara Miller recounted the love story. They were her students. One sat in the back of the 250-person lecture hall while the other, ever studious, sat in front. They barely spoke, but he remembered her vividly. Another case of a missed connection, the student put an article in a newspaper years later searching for her. They finally met and fell in love – a love characterized by Miller’s explanation of the ethnographic customs of shirtless Maasai Women and afternoons watching the Papa New Guinean documentary, “Ongka’s Big Moka.”

That was my idea of love at GW. If you go to class, a stranger in back just might harbor a crush on you. Then, if you’re lucky, years later you just might read the same newspaper and get married.

I was a freshman and didn’t know any better.

Now, as a senior, my skepticism here is not for a lack of faith in true love or the “great things happen when you go to class” myth. It’s a rejection of the notion of GW as a “Hollywood ending” dating scene.

This Valentine’s Day, as I listen to countless couples prattle on about constructing the perfect big day plan, I can’t help but wonder: What would the GW dating scene look like if it were a Hollywood romantic comedy? Would we have black-and-white gushy tearjerkers like “Casablanca” or would we be the more slapstick, subdued “My Best Friend’s Wedding” scenario of boy meets girl, girl loses boy and girl terrorizes boy to get him back?

First and foremost, I’m almost positive Audrey Hepburn would have a hand in the plot. Most likely a stunning scene opener with Hepburn gracefully chowing down on J Street’s finest day-old bagels – a perfect “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” throwback. I’m sure a few core Brat Pack members like Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe and Andrew McCarthy would be perfect for the gig of the male love interest. Maybe one of them could play the part of the forlorn, misunderstood “bro.” Of course, GW’s atmosphere would require them to trade in the acid wash jeans for designer jeans and V-necks. The options are endless.

A dramatic ending, if 4-RIDE would be so inclined, could include charmer Richard Gere picking up a radiant Julia Roberts from her rundown “Pretty Woman” brick castle in Mitchell Hall. All the while, John Cusack would be holding up a pair of iPod speakers outside a Thurston Hall window, resulting in several neighborhood noise violations and at least two GWPD reminder e-mails. Finally, just before we fade out, we get one last look at an early morning on F Street as a young Marlon Brando wakes up the entire block screaming “Stella!”

Credits roll.

The GW dating scene certainly doesn’t leave much opportunity for Hollywood magic. With an undergraduate guy-to-girl ratio of roughly 45 percent to 55 percent in favor of guys, that comes out to roughly 1.25 women for every male undergraduate. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never seen a rom-com where relationships are divided into quarters like a Colonials basketball game.

This Valentine’s day, whether you are caught in a sticky Scarlett O’Hara-esque love triangle or your day looks more like a scene from “Animal House,” it seems to me that the big day doesn’t have to have a Hollywood ending. Forget the Steven Spielberg execution and Nora Ephron screenplay. Hollywood perfection looks great on the big screen, but a bit of reality never hurt anyone.

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