Point: Pong as a Legitimate Date

by Jilian Gundling | 4/18/08 4:04am

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by Reggie Schickel / The Dartmouth

Before pong can be counted as a date, two preconditions must be met:

  1. There is some sort of sexual tension in the air accompanied by flirting and/or flitzing.

  2. The pong date is pre-planned via Blitz or in person earlier in the day.

If your friend needs a fourth, you are not suddenly on a date. Use common sense. And if Bobby Black Out bumps into you at three in the morning and says, "Wanna play pong?" this is also not a date. There is no initiative involved in the 3 a.m. pong game. It simply screams, "Hey, you're one of the only people still here. I would love to play pong with you and then have sex."

A date is defined as an awkward encounter between two individuals who are trying to find out if they can envision themselves dating, hooking up, getting engaged, getting married, moving to the suburbs and having 2.5 kids and a dog named Rex.

A pong date is the perfect date to test the waters on whether you and your partner should be dating at all. Let's be honest, a date that takes place where people are vomiting into trash cans does not scream romance or commitment. However, what the pong date lacks in glamour, it makes up for in practical benefits.

The first major benefit to the pong date is a proven reduction in awkwardness, all thanks to the much celebrated social lubricant -- Keystone Light. At Dartmouth we all like to pretend we're much less awkward than we really are, and with Keystone Light we almost pull it off.

The awkwardness of the reach-for-your-wallet-is-he-going-to-pay-or-are-we-splitting-it moment is also significantly minimized. Pong dates are prepaid -- cups and beer are right there waiting for you.

Next, many people at Dartmouth use pong dates as a way to pick up clues into the personality of their partner. While it is important not to read too much into these signals, there are several things each sex can deduce about the other.

Ladies: If you are looking wobbly, does he offer to help you finish the cup or does he say, "Suck it up?" Does he smile and say, "It's okay" if you make a mistake, or does he roll his eyes and mouth to his friend, "She's horrible?"

Guys: Does she outdrink you on purpose and then call you a wimp? Does she look good when she makes a throw save?

Another key difference between a pong date and other dates is that groping is allowed and often expected in this type of date. The later it is in the game, the more groping becomes acceptable. Congratulatory shoulder squeezes, victory hugs with hands straying just a bit too low -- it's all kosher.

A pong date also allows for a reasonable amount of conversation, much more than a movie date. Optimal moments for conversation include when the other team is chugging, when the ball is lost, when someone is throwing up, when someone runs up to go to the bathroom or when one of the four players has gotten distracted by a shiny object. Just because you have no recollection of a conversation doesn't mean it never happened.

Pong not only accelerates the action for those who are feeling the love, but it also provides the perfect exit strategy for people who have become disinterested in the date.

A pong date is the only date where you can say, "I have to leave. I'm going to be sick," and it requires no explanation. In fact, after a pong date you can say this at any moment in time and not feel guilty, even if it isn't the Keystone that makes you want to throw up.

If your relationship is comprised of an endless string of pong games, you may need to re-evaluate, but by itself there is nothing wrong with the pong date. It is quintessential Dartmouth, and that is what makes it so wonderful. If you avoid spilling a drink or throwing up on your partner, you may find yourselves sharing chicken nuggets in Food Court sooner than you think. Be safe.

Jilian is a staff writer and deputy editor for The Mirror. Her dream date ends in hair-holding, not hand-holding.