The moment is coming, whether you're ready for it or not. You're going to graduate, and you're going to go out in the world to make your name and your fortune, and then you're going to eventually head back to school. That first time back is typically Homecoming, and I'm here to tell you it actually might suck.
The weekend itself will be fine, of course. It'll be great to see fraternity brothers you haven't seen in months, and it'll be nice to lie to girls you haven't tried to bang in months. You'll be back in one of the only places in the country where it's not only acceptable to drink 15 beers in a day, it's encouraged. That's always a plus. And you'll get to watch some college football, which is now a beacon of decency and non-corruption when compared to that barren wasteland that is the NFL.
But here's the thing: You've got to temper your expectations for the trip back. You've got to realize that you're not in college anymore, and while your new life may in many ways be better than the college life, things are just different now. If you go back with the wrong mindset, the weekend will not be worth the plane fare.
Luckily, you have me. Here are 10 Dos and Don'ts for Homecoming, inspired by my last post on Beach Week. Follow these rules or your plane ride back will be as sullen as the Packers' private jet Monday night.
1. DO: Say repeatedly that you're "washed-up."
I have heard an alum say this while drinking roughly 2,385 times during my four Homecomings as an undergrad and one as an alum. Why? This simple phrase serves a two-fold purpose. One, it allows a point in a conversation to exaggerate about work, which is always an open invitation to impress a girl. "Yeah, it's tough to party with my 80-hour weeks at [insert bank/cool start-up/deserving children's charity here], but it'll be worth it one day, you know?" This is an important thing to say.
And two, admitting to being washed-up eliminates any embarrassment that comes from a failed dizzy bat chug, or poor pong performance, or other drinking faux pas. These things just happen when you're not five nights a week anymore.
But, you know what? Chin up, champ. We can't all age as gracefully as Jeter.
2. DON'T: Repeatedly say "This is so weird."
This is my impression of every girl who has ever gone to a Homecoming:
- Flight lands, she gets off plane, notices she has now arrived at airport she purposely wanted to go to, as she purchased a ticket three weeks ago to arrive there: "This is so weird to be back here!"
- Arrives at restaurant to grab Friday dinner with friends at a place they used to frequent: "Isn't it so WEIRD how we're all back here together?"
- Saturday brunch: "Weird to be back here again."
- Saturday brunch, again: "Wouldn't it be weird if we all ordered Mimosa's?"
- Saturday brunch, again again: "Yeah, it was weird to hook up with him again. No, he hasn't talked to me in months."
- Saturday night out: "IT'S F*CKING WEIRD TO BE DRINKING HERE AGAIN NO I HAVEN'T BEEN DRINKING A LOT."
- Sunday, airport again: "I'm so hungover—isn't it gonna be weeeeiiirrd to go back to the Real World again, right?!"
Just shut up. Stop it. It's not f*cking weird. This is life's natural progression. You know what would be weird? If you went back to Homecoming, decided you wanted to stay for a while, and then just moved into a dorm room and started attending classes again like Rodney Dangerfield in "Back to School." That would be a strange turn of events. Graduating and returning for Homecoming? Literally millions of people have done that.
3. DO: Take out frustrations with the working world.
Haze people who aren't pledges anymore. Shatter glass bottles on roofs (this is called "tinkling.") Look inside yourself, find the most socially reprehensible behavior that has been yearning to break out, and just do it. There's a case to be made that the amount of repression you've been under while in an office environment is grounds for deep psychotherapy. But instead of visiting the shrink, drink until you can't feel feelings anymore. And then take that attitude back to work.
4. DON'T: Make a move for the freshmen.
Good God. They look young. You're not going to realize how young they look until you actually get there and see for yourself, but wow. In my opinion, you're reaching severe creeper status by putting the moves on any girls one month into college. (I'm presuming too that they're 18—it should go without saying that hitting on 17-year-olds is idiotic.)
(One more parenthesis: All this being said, one of the most legendary stories in my fraternity's history involves a guy who came back for his first Homecoming as an alum and woke up Saturday on the freshman campus, without any memory of getting there. I have laughed many times at that story. Which means I have no moral high ground here.)
5. DO: Go to the football game.
Alluded to this above, but now is the time to support college football. The refs know what they're doing, the outcomes are official, and the sport is just so clean when compared to what is happening to America's real national pasttime. Yes, college football is a sport to really throw your weight behind.
(Except for the academic scandals, booster scandals, agent scandals, molesting coaches, and all that.)
6. DON'T: Attend a dance, school tour, or any other school function
Your trip back to school will be your first clue that since your graduation, your alma mater has turned into a giant vacuum cleaner aimed at your paltry wallet. That kindly president who used to give those inspiring speeches to start the school year? He's turned into Alexi, the Russian loan shark. Have crippling student loans? A low-paying entry job? No job at all? F*ck you. Donate us money. We need new bow ties.
These school functions—your dances, your tours—are when you'll be hit up for these donations. AVOID.
7. DO: Buy your own beer
Presuming you joined a fraternity in college, you will know that no one actually donates any money to it once they graduate. This may be because it's difficult to think back on how important a successfully-thrown Golf Pro's and Tennis Hoes party is when you're have a mortgage to pay.
So you're probably not going to donate anything either. But you can do a solid and bring your own beer. It can be nicer than Busch Lite, and it means you're not a dirty old moocher.
8. DO: Go.
What are you going to do instead? Think about your job?