Down the Rabbit Hole: Last Chances
One writer reflects on the joys and confusions that accompany Dartmouth's matchmaking program.
As the snow melted and slipped through the uneven cracks in the sidewalk, the energy shifted on campus. Eager students began populating the Green to engage in intense matches of spikeball, sweating from the shimmering rays of sunlight beating down upon them. Colorful flowers bloomed and Zyrtec sales increased as the new weather exacerbated allergy season. It finally felt like spring in Hanover was here — a season of change and new beginnings. Yet, spring also brings about a finalty to the school year, a finality that pushes each one of us to experience the things you missed during the previous terms.
That finality means Last Chances — the grand finale that puts Marriage Pact and Datamatch to shame. You essentially go for it. Person you made prolonged eye contact with in the stacks? Awkward but charged hand graze when grabbing Novack coffees? The one who held two consecutive doors open for you? If you know their name, you have a chance to match with them.
The Last Chances website requires a Dartmouth login, prompting you to send a push notification to that Duo Mobile app you know all too well. Once you have reached the website, you come across the phrase “Stay Thirsty (And Silly) Dartmouth.” Ah, the duality of college students. You simply type a name into the system, adding them to your list of crushes. The website provides you with full name suggestions if you don’t put in the exact first name, middle initial, last name combination correctly. Apologies to all those who go by their middle name and no one knows what your first name is.
Once you’ve “crushed” on someone, you are the only person who can see their name. Keep in mind that you cannot retract any of your submissions. However, you only match when the desired individual also submits your name. Then their name becomes visible under your crush count.
As the term progresses, the number of people crushing on you increases. Of course it has, you’re amazing. Look in the mirror if you don’t believe me. But who are these people crushing on you? I, too, am thinking the same thing. I haven’t put any names in yet, worrying about the algorithms and the disappointment that I may experience after I cautiously click the submit button.
Of course, it could just be my friends boosting my ego, putting my name in so I have an additional number beside the phrase “x people are crushing on you.” Very kind of them to be keeping me in their thoughts. There aren’t many people who complain about having a plethora of crushes, a sea of people wishing that you’ll match them back.
So, I’m lying in bed, pondering over who put my name in. I toss and I turn. Perhaps I get up and pace my room. Are these people looking for one last hook-up before the summer? Worried I’ll be the one that got away, as Katy Perry once vocalized? (I highly recommend the acoustic version if you are deep within your feelings.) Are they seeking out a new relationship even though spring term is winding down? Perhaps they simply want to be friends. It’s impossible to know the intentions.
I decide to let it go. The Baker clock chimes as I stride out of my dorm and everything feels right in the world. I study in Sanborn, its enchanting charm enveloping me and reassuring me that I am indeed the main character in my own life story. I drink my matcha at Starbucks and savor the strong air conditioning because my dorm is a sweltering sauna. Who needs Last Chances anyways?
Soon enough, my friends convince me to make the trek down to the river, but all I can think about is how everyone I pass is a potential crush. It could be anyone. “I DON’T EVEN KNOW THEM,” my brain tells me when I think that person on the docks was looking over at me and could be the love of my life. Soulmate material, dare I say.
I’m walking back down Main Street with my hair dripping cold droplets onto my back. My river towel is draped around my neck. I’m grabbing takeout, hopefully a cold drink to quench my thirst in the humidity. I concur, “I should just put their name in.” I breathe out a deep sigh of relief and mentally prepare myself to put those names in once I return to my room.
There, my fingers hover over the keyboard of my laptop and their middle initial is the last one I would have guessed. All of a sudden, I pause. And then I spiral. What if they know that I have been crushing on them? I reflect upon every interaction I’ve had with them in the past few weeks, wondering if I’ve made my feelings incredibly obvious. Did I really say that during our short-lived conversation in that sticky and crowded fraternity basement?
Perhaps they have plenty of people crushing on them, and in order to guess who these people are, they submitted my name as they have a sneaking suspicion that I’ve caught feelings. But there was no match because I hadn’t worked up the courage to press the necessary buttons on my laptop. Now that I’ve finally convinced myself to put their name into the system, I’m confronted with the possibility that they may have put my name in as a guess rather than a true match. What a mess indeed. I’m officially in a pickle.
This dilemma is a two-way street, friends. If you are trying to guess who your many admirers are, you analyze all of your recent interactions. I think about that one moment during magical Green Key weekend. The music pulsed, bubbles floated in the air. That specific person seemed uncharacteristically flirtatious and they offered me a sip from their silly cup. I declined, but it was still endearing. Sadly, I have no romantic attachment to them, but adore them as a person. Purely platonic.
Just to determine who these potential admirers are, I begin typing them into the system. I could finally uncover a name. But if we ultimately match, they’ll think I’m interested. Romantically. The system won’t reveal my intentions, so it’s up to their imagination. How will you ever determine who matched you if you’re trying to avoid awkward interactions following an accidental match?
Week nine approaches and departs. I have absolutely nothing to lose at this point. I start putting in names like I’m listing players from a sports roster. Just put that name in, I promise you that your computer will not explode and you will survive. If you thought I matched you, just go ahead and put my name in. My middle initial is M, in case that was ambiguous. And who knows? Perhaps we can overcome the awkwardness.