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Student Voice

Unlikely Aphrodite

What singles me out as a love expert.

Alison Sieffer

By Marie Christine Cannizzaro

"Hey, aren't you that expert on being single?” asked the guy sitting next to me in econ lecture.

“Right!” I replied enthusiastically. “I’m an expert on being alone!”

He looked confused for a moment and then leaned farther forward. “I need you to help me get with that girl over there.” He nodded his head toward a heavily made-up blonde sitting a few rows away. I’m pretty sure she was 12.

“Now?” I asked.

“Well, after class or something.”

Since my Stanford Single column began appearing in the Stanford Daily this year, I’ve received dozens of requests from friends, acquaintances and complete strangers, begging help for their relationship woes. I had envisioned myself as Carrie from Sex and the City; they saw me as Yente from Fiddler on the Roof. And like the latter, I am ill-equipped to help them.

It is not only because I am young and professionally unqualified that I am somewhat out of place as the Farm’s official dating guru. The harsh reality is that I despise being single, mostly because of my history of long-term relationships but also because of traumatic exchanges such as this one:

Marie: “So, what do you do for a living?”

Boy 1: “Well, I just finished my training to be a physical fitness instructor.”

Marie: “Really? That’s awesome! Where does one train to become a fitness instructor?”

Boy 1: “Prison.”

Or this one:

Marie: “This place is really crowded. Do you want to go outside?”

Boy 2: “You know, you have a nice face, but you really need to be more submissive.”

My greatest qualification for the role of Love Doctor is a wealth of such embarrassing and ridiculous experiences. “Awkward situations and quasi-insightful commentary” was how I described the Stanford Single blog that gave rise to the column. I tried to channel Dave Barry more than Dr. Phil, although it was difficult to shy away from a preachy tone when I saw so many unhealthy social interactions around me.

My thesis is basically this: that the Stanford students of my generation truncate their social spectrum with the same passion with which they use acronyms. Instead of the full range of nonplatonic interactions, we confine ourselves to the extremes: physical encounters devoid of emotion or near-marriage commitments. This is problematic because unless we learn how to partake in more nuanced interactions such as casual dating, we will all graduate with subpar social skills (not to mention chlamydia).

The column has attracted attention by claiming that the lack of dating on campus is an issue that needs to be taken seriously, and by seriously I mean discussed in articles with titles like “I Cardinal Recruited Your Mom Last Night” and “My Other Car Is a Pickup Line.” God knows how this became interpreted as the voice of reason or authority, but suddenly students began to ask me to find them love when I would be better prepared to find them a chain-smoking unicorn.

When I go out on a date now, the first topic of conversation is inevitably, “Am I just a guinea pig for your column?” The answer, of course, is yes, yes, you are. I think it’s good that men have a fear-based approach to interacting with me.

I might try to extend this phenomenon to the postgraduate period. Meanwhile, I am content sharing irreverent social commentary and traumatic experiences with other students and assuring them that when it comes to love, all of us are clueless. I’m also working on the ultimate date: me, alone in a movie theater, rejoicing in the glory of being completely and utterly single.


MARIE CHRISTINE CANNIZZARO, ’06, is a human biology major.

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