Tim and Nate were chemical engineering majors at Princeton University. They spent most of their time in their room studying. When they did go to parties, they usually only spoke to each other, and shied away from members of the opposite sex. The four girls in their classes might as well have been mirages in the desert of their dateless existence, for they were nowhere to be seen after-school.
So, when Tim was invited to his cousin, Rick’s, birthday party, he said ‘yes’ immediately. It was just the push he needed to get out of his room, and he was going to drag Nate with him.
“What are we going to do there?” asked Nate. “We won’t fit in.”
“I want to have some fun,” Tim said, “and if that means I have to change my persona for a night, then that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll study their habits like we do everything else, and we’ll bluff our way through.”
So, that’s exactly what they did. Tim and Nate read every magazine, website, and book, they could find on slang, sports, and popular music. They saw the number #1 movie in the country, an action-packed thriller titled “Epileptic: Shudder Storm,” and tried not to harp on its inaccuracies.
In searching for a place to buy new clothes, Tim found a place called “Jeffie J.’s,” which got very high ratings. When they walked into the slim, tightly packed, store, they were approached by a schlubby man with greasy hair.
“I know what you two looking for,” said the man, smiling and briskly shaking their hands. “Jeffie’s going to set you right up.” The man, Jeffie, went into a back room and came out a moment later with a selection of cloths.
“You’re lucky,” said Jeffie, looking at Nate. He held up a fuschia dress shirt and skinny jeans. “These are the last one in your size.”
“It’s a little bold, don’t you think?” asked Nate.
“Now you will be bold! Don’t tuck the shirt in,” said Jeffie, turning to Tim. “As for you, I just got this in,” he held up a light blue shirt, and fitted khakis. “You’re going to be cool and relaxed. The key to a good night out is not taking the whole thing so seriously. Walk in there like you don’t care what happens, and soon you’ll find yourself believing it.” Tim and Nate tried the clothes on, and felt surprising good about the way they looked. It was different, but not bad.
By the night of the party, Tim and Nate had their facts down, and they were ready to incorporate them. They hopped a train into New York City, and arrived at the club thirty “fashionable” minutes late. The place was packed, and it took them way too long to find Rick in the crowd. When they did, Rick hardly recognized them. They no longer looked like people who spent all of their time holed up in a dorm room.
Rick introduced Nate to his friend, Cindy. Nate managed to sustain a conversation with Cindy for about fifteen minutes, before asking her on to the dance floor. That’s right, Nate danced, and he wasn’t so bad at it either.
Tim tried to remain as laid-back as possible, despite being overwhelmed by all the beautiful women around him. Luckily, just as Jeffie foretold, Tim’s fake relaxation turned into authentic relaxation. He spoke to three girls that evening; each one more beautiful than the next. With the third girl, Tim brought up “Epileptic: Shudder Storm,” and she ended up really surprising him.
“It was alright,” she said, “It would have been better if it wasn’t so unrealistic. There’s no way a person could out-run a volcano, The molten ash alone could melt a car.” Tim was speechless. His brain was telling him to hold on to that girl as long as he could. His new laid-back attitude was the only thing that prevented him from vice-gripping her arm.
When Tim and Nate got back to their dorm room that night, they were reluctant to take off their party clothes. The shirts and pants were like battle armor, and like any other soldier, they wondered if they could maintain their lessons outside of uniform.
“Yes,” they decided, and they passed out from exhaustion.
Story written by Alex Schattner (8/20/12)