The Mittle-man on Campus: Tips and Tricks for the Graduating Class

Illustration+Credit%3A+Sydney+Fener

Illustration Credit: Sydney Fener

Sarah Mittleman

‘The Mittle-man on Campus’ is a satirical column centered around high school clichés and the teenage experience that will appear in The Chronicle once every two weeks. None of the articles in this column are representative of the opinions of The Chronicle staff.

The school year is finally coming to a close and with its end comes the joys of June gloom, locker clean-outs and numerous (often redundant) Instagram posts. As we head into summer, sophomores are feeling pretty proud of themselves, – calm down, you’ve only been on campus for three weeks – juniors are discovering their first wrinkles, and seniors are suddenly old news.

I can’t relate to the struggle of no longer being relevant, but I assume that for the graduating class of 2021, the feeling must be soul-crushing. I mean, next year the school will go on like usual, welcoming new students and bidding adieu to previous ones. Aside from an occasional “I was in town” visit to a favorite teacher, the 2020-21 seniors are gone for good, and all that remains are their yearbook pictures.

But before they disappear into the horizon, going on to do great things at great universities (that’s right, I checked the senior supplement), we must remember that these students are still teenagers. Just because they can park in the Senior Lot and go off campus for lunch doesn’t mean they’re experienced in the real world. I, however, am an expert on adolescence and despite my youth, am well on my way to receiving my doctorate in teen studies (my first step is establishing the course). Since the year is finally winding down, I will take it upon myself to bestow some of my wisdom on the seniors. After all, they may think the high school show ends with graduation, but I’ve got news for them: the college spinoff is coming out in three short months.

The most important thing to do before moving on to the next stage of your life is, of course, to break ties with your past. Obviously, this means leaving your entire family behind and ostracizing all of your friends, but there’s another important step: nobody wants to go to college trapped in a relationship that started in high school. If you’re still involved with somebody back home, you’re going to waste an opportunity to meet new people and discover who you are. Everybody knows that high school sweethearts are a recipe for divorce, anyway. For the seniors’ benefit, I have compiled a handy list of go-to breakup lines. These can be used whenever they see fit, and they’re pretty versatile, so I recommend printing this article out and taking it everywhere. I have provided context for each line to make it especially clear how to use them.

  1. You looked really different over Zoom (for virtually any relationship)
  2. Ideologically, we’re just too different (after the pandemic, one has turned into a doomsday prepper, while the other is a climate change denier)
  3. I’m sorry, I just can’t be held back anymore (you are in a relationship with a seatbelt)
  4. The mask finally came off and I saw who you truly were (significant other is very COVID-safe)
  5. I can’t keep trying to make you come out of your shell (significant other is a turtle)
  6. You’re just not good enough for me (significant other got Moderna, not Pfizer)
  7. You’re a ticking time bomb (girlfriend got Johnson & Johnson)
  8. I feel like I’m always walking on eggshells around you (dating a scrambled egg)
  9. They said your bark was worse than your bite, but your bite is pretty bad too (significant other has turned into a zombie and/or rottweiler)
  10. You’re always cold to me (significant other is a block of ice)

We can’t all be the main character, but, on a college campus, it is easier than ever to spot protagonists. In high school, it can be challenging to decide who the world revolves around because everybody is so self-centered. Is the main character the boy making a loud speech in the middle of the Quad? No, he just likes attention. Is it the anxious-looking sophomore who trips up the stairs in front of everybody? No, the school is just built on a hill. Is it the girl crying in a hallway, math study sheets strewn around her as she begs her teacher for an ‘A’? No, she’s just a typical junior. In comparison, protagonist-spotting in college is a piece of cake. For example, anyone who sits in the corner reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” at a party is most certainly about to get swept off their feet by a frat boy, so unless you want to be the sidekick, I recommend giving them a wide berth.

However, a few opportunities from high school are lost to college students; for one, there’s no prom to finish off your storyline and wrap up the movie. After college comes the most boring part of life: adulthood. Sure, there are plenty of romances to be had and hundreds of adventures to go on, but for the first time, you won’t be trapped in a zoo full of other young people. You’ll have to seek them out yourself, which makes meet-cutes a lot harder to achieve. Most people assume that love comes from spotting people at bars, nightclubs, coffee shops or classrooms. But it’s 2021 now, and those locations are beyond dated. Besides, the usual love-at-first-sight moments just aren’t cutting it anymore. Don’t let your love story fade into history; try something bold and new instead. Here are 10 examples of possible plots to jump-start your modern romance.

  1. Across America: be a war criminal on the run. Your love interest will be the CIA agent who tries to capture you as you dash across the rocky terrain.
  2. Speed Bumps: take your driving exam in a car that doesn’t have functioning brakes. Your love interest will be the instructor who bonds with you through your shared trauma.
  3. Racing Through Time: become an overachieving track star who always wants to beat their past speed and has never believed in love. Your love interest will be a broken clock that has learned the importance of leisure.
  4. True Beauty: be a plastic surgeon who has forgotten what it is like to love themself and is overcome with a fixation on their physical form. Your love interest will be a ghost who teaches you to appreciate spiritual connections above all else.
  5. Shaved Ice: be a hot-headed barber who can’t control their anger. Your love interest will be the frozen treat you buy on a trip to the beach that shows you how to cool down.
  6. Speak of the Devil: be a motivational speaker who loses hope when they realize the world is cruel. Your love interest will be the surprisingly handsome Lucifer who (is that a six-pack?) convinces you that sometimes, it’s okay to be bad.
  7. Growing Up: be a gardener just trying to make ends meet so that they can one day become a pilot. Your love interest will be a shrub, and through your love, you will discover that being grounded is just as good as having your head in the clouds.
  8. A Stroke of Luck: be a painter who can’t seem to catch a break. Your love interest will be a four-leaf clover, and with it tucked away in your pocket, you will finally make it big. But is the fame worth it, or are you really meant to be with the paintbrush that’s always been by your side?
  9. The Perfect Storm: be a Californian who hates bad weather but has to move to Seattle for their new job. Your love interest will be an annoyingly charming raindrop that refuses to get out of your hair. 
  10. Every Waking Hour: be a proud narcoleptic who doesn’t want to change their ways. Your love interest will be the somnologist you are forced to see who you disagree with in every single way. Sometimes, opposites attract – and this love refuses to nod off.

With these tips, seniors, you’re set up for success in adulthood. Some of you will go on to be mathematicians or athletes, some will become teachers and authors and others yet will be scientists or dancers. To the future journalists, you chose correctly. Everybody knows that the best love stories happen when journalists go undercover to write a breaking piece and then end up falling for the subject of their article.

Wherever you stand on the cast list – whether you’re the protagonist or love interest, the comedic relief or the clingy best friend – I wish you the best of luck in your future (romantic) careers. Though your relevance has faded, your legacy at the school will not, and you will all go on to do great things. Even though my class is superior (after all, it has me), you guys are a pretty close second.