Finding Your Unicorn
You’re walking around campus when BAM! You spot your unicorn walking toward you. You’ve already seen them three times today, and you know you will see them at least three more. Are they stalking you? Are you subconsciously stalking them? Either way, they are coming closer. You stare off at a tree in the distance, trying your best to avoid the awkward eye contact, but it’s inevitable. Right as they pass by, you look up and give them the usual half-smile. “See you soon,” you think.
Maybe you know their name or maybe you don’t, but we have found that most people on campus have their elusive unicorn. Your unicorn is that person you see everywhere and always cross paths with; you both recognize each other, but rarely move past the awkward eye contact because you’ve never actually met.
While standing in the KAF line, we approached Kevin Donahoe ’17 and asked him to tell us a little about his unicorn.
“Well, it’s a guy in Beta,” he said. “He has earrings, and I see him a lot. He complimented me on my Jordans once, but we have never officially met.”
Donahoe had encountered his unicorn earlier that day at the gym. They were standing next to each other and were the only two in the area. It was a little awkward because they had once interacted, Donahoe said, but they didn’t actually know each other.
Donahoe’s unicorn, Ben Wood ’16 — whom we identified from Donahoe’s description — was sitting at a desk on First Floor Berry about 30 yards from the KAF line. While Wood told us about two of his unicorns (a ’15 in Psi U and a ’17 from his class in the fall), he did not immediately think of Donahoe. After showing him a few of Donahoe’s Facebook default pictures, he instantly recognized him.
“Oh, what’s his name? I met him at Beta and I liked his shoes,” he said. “I’ve definitely seen him around a lot since then.”
Well, now that we have informed Wood that Donahoe is his unicorn, we think they will start to notice every time they pass each other on the Green or stand next to each other at the gym, and now those encounters may be a little less awkward. You’re welcome, boys!
So why do we have unicorns? Are these unicorn connections generally unreciprocated, or do both of the people acknowledge that they are each other’s unicorns? Let us present our unicorn theory. Our theory explains why people have unicorns.
The most common reason for unicorns is class schedule. Especially on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, when students often move to three different classes in a row, plus lunch and breakfast, repeated crossings with the same individual or individuals is common. Artie Santry ’16 immediately named his unicorn as Holly Foster ’14. They’ve been unicorns since the winter when they crossed paths multiple times a day — between classes, at lunch, at FoCo and in the library after dinner.
To better analyze the unicorn path-crossing of Santry and Foster, we obtained the location and times of all of their whereabouts during winter term (we are not creepy at all...).
After analyzing this chart, it becomes obvious that their schedule combination is the perfect recipe for lots of run-ins. For instance, when Santry walked from Silsby Hall toward Dartmouth Hall, there is a high probability that he would run into Foster as she heads from Streeter to the Black Family Visual Arts Center, because they would both be on Tuck Street around 9:50 a.m. After their 10s, Santry and Foster both crossed the Green to get to their next location. Based off of our calculations, they would probably intersect in the center of the Green. After Santry ate some food and Foster had her government class, there would be another run-in, probably in front of Sanborn Library. They would have several more encounters during the day.
Now that we officially feel like stalkers, let us explain other aspects of our unicorn theory. People with similar habits tend to find unicorns in each other. Daniel Knight ’15 recently found out that one of his unicorns is Matt Robinson ’15.
“I’d seen him in the gym a few times,” Knight said. “We’d exchanged glances in the squat rack and then I waited in line behind him to get water.”
Robinson also remembers an interaction with Knight. They were both behind the Hop walking 20 yards across the street from each other in different directions.
“We stopped and gave each other a little wave,” he said. “It was a little awkward. I think that signifies a unicorn.”
People usually realize their unicorns after there is some sort of interaction between both parties. For instance, one morning Maddie could not get into her building because she had lost her Dartmouth ID, so this girl let her in. After that encounter, Maddie ran into her at least four times that day. Now Maddie sees her everywhere, and they are even Facebook friends (so, like, they’re officially friends, right?). Similarly, Donahoe started to notice Wood after they had briefly talked about Donahoe’s shoes.
Another quasi-interaction that leads to unicorn situations is in a non-verbal classroom setting. Joanna Millstein ’17 took a computer animation class with 20 other students. While the students never actually interacted because they always hid behind computer screens, she said that of the 20 students, nine of them were her unicorns. She would see them everywhere but didn’t actually know who they are.
Unicorns may also exist with those who have never interacted before if the person is very unique-looking. No, we are not using “unique-looking” as a euphemism for very weird-looking, but we are saying that maybe they have a very distinct feature or are particularly attractive. For instance, Wood thought that maybe he was recognizable because he wears earrings. Similarly, one of Robinson’s unicorns is a thin, 6’5” redhead who has a very distinct way of walking.
Indeed, many Dartmouth students found that they randomly bumped into a specific person so many times that they actually introduced themselves. Foster introduced herself to Santry when they bumped into each other at a semi-formal event.
“She came up to me at Tri-Delt semi and was like, ‘I see you everywhere,’ and so I said, ‘Yes, let’s be friends,’” Santry said.
Krystyna Miles ’16 also introduced herself to her unicorn when they stood in a line next to each other. “Now I can just say hi to him, and it’s great, and we even have inside jokes. We’re at that kind of level.”
Dartmouth allows these random unicorn relationships to blossom. Next time you walk past your unicorn, go and introduce yourself — we dare you. With only three weeks left in the term, what do you have to lose? Maybe you’ll become best friends, or maybe things will just be more awkward during the next 50 times that you see them, but either way it’ll be a great story.