The Mittle-man on Campus: Seeking Oscar-Worthy Date for Pivotal High School Experience


Illustrated by Sydney Fener

Lying on her bed, the Mittle-Man advises a student on their love life through the phone.

Sarah Mittleman, Opinion Editor

‘The Mittle-man on Campus’ is a satirical column centered around high school clichés and the teenage experience. None of the articles in this column are representative of the opinions of The Chronicle staff as a whole.

It’s that time again, folks. The weather is finally cooling down, (some) teachers are remembering our names and the Class of 2022 already teetered around in high heels at the Ring Sarahmony last week. Of course, none of that matters because in a few short weeks we’ll put aside our extracurriculars and college applications to focus on the only thing more important than our futures: Homecoming Formal.

I’m sure this will come as a shock to anyone who has seen me around campus, but I have yet to be asked to the dance. I’ve been biding my time, eyeing many unsuspecting peers in classes (because I’m keeping my options open), but with Homecoming quickly approaching, I’ve decided the time for procrastination is over. Truthfully, I’m shocked that a ruggedly handsome yet mysterious boy with a dark past hasn’t shown up yet on campus and transferred into all of my classes. If at some point he chooses to appear, I have our introduction planned out: I stumble, accidentally spilling scalding coffee on him, which prompts an argument. The two of us are nemeses until we become partners in a school project. I go to his house to work on the assignment and he’s unable to resist the combined effect of my beauty and intelligence. A dramatic and public Homecoming Formal ask ensues.

Since this has yet to happen, I have to assume that the writers’ room is going in a different direction this year. Evidently, they’ve been ignoring my strongly worded emails. After the fiasco that was last year’s plot — they really drove the COVID-19 concept into the ground — I can’t say I have too much faith in the writers’ ability to provide the romantic character arc of my dreams, so I’ve decided to set my own creative vision into motion. After all, I don’t think I should be expected to sit and wait for my bad boy, enemy or vampire boyfriend to stoically slide into my DMs (and through my windowsill to watch me sleep a la Edward Cullen).

Trust me, I’ve given this situation plenty of thought. When I’m not being studious and brilliant in Silent Study or investigating scandals for The Chronicle, I spend hours sifting through my notes on the Homecoming conundrum. Picking just one of my many options isn’t easy. Once again, I have the entire universe stacked against me. Of course, this is all good news for you, my wonderful classmates: One of you will be fortunate enough to have the extraordinarily rare opportunity to ask the Mittle-man on Campus to Formal!

In order to narrow down the candidates, I’ve included a list of necessary qualities below: The lucky winner will have enough of these traits to be my ideal match, my one and only, my everything.

Must be cool. Homecoming is not the time for community service, so I refuse to do charity work by choosing anybody below my social status. As a protagonist with an unfinished story arc, I haven’t yet advanced to the top of the social food chain — that’ll come in the spring, just in time for me to make an emotional Prom Queen speech in which I reject high school’s rigid social hierarchy and teach classmates to appreciate individuality. This means that I need a popular date to advance my status and push forth my 2021-2022 plot. The only situation in which I’m willing to disregard popularity level is if you can promise me a quality dramatic Formal experience to write about in the next issue of my column.

Motorcycle (or other sweet ride) required. We have to make a grand entrance to Homecoming Formal to get the gossip train going because I want everybody talking about us for at least a few weeks after the dance. I wouldn’t complain about a white horse or “Cinderella” carriage, but because the school’s parking lot is pretty narrow, I’m also willing to settle for a private jet. I’m sure if we take a helicopter, we can find a helipad nearby and just walk the rest of the way, but if I’m in heels, there will be complaining. If there are any bad boys reading this, your motorcycle would be very much appreciated. Hint hint.

Enemy status preferred. As mentioned above, I’m a sucker for the I-hate-you-I-love-you trope. I’ve explained this to the writers several times, but at this point, I’m pretty sure they’ve blocked my number. Regardless, the best romances start out with undying, red-hot loathing. Passion is passion. However, because I’m so charming and delightful, there’s not a soul in this world who could possibly dislike me at the moment, so if you’re interested in asking me to Formal, you can start by trying to find something about me to detest. I know, that’s like finding a needle in a haystack, but trust me: I’ve got flaws. For example, being too well-liked can be just as bad as being liked by nobody at all. It’s really hard to prioritize when I’m being pulled in so many different directions all the time. Am I supposed to sit with the loser kids and give a makeover to the secretly attractive nerdy boy or convince the heartbreaking athlete that I’m the one? Once you’ve discovered something about me that makes you tick, just start glowering at me in the halls to invoke my hatred. Take it from Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet: The happiest couples always start out detesting one another.

Massive pectorals expected. Listen, I’m not so shallow that I value physical appearance above all else. After all, I’m more than happy to spruce up a geek as long as it only requires a new haircut and a cutesy shopping montage. However, I know that every single male love interest has abs even if they don’t have a gym membership, so clearly it doesn’t take a lot of work to get ripped. At this point, I think anybody without bulging muscles is simply a commitment-phobe, and there’s no way I’m taking a chance at love with somebody too afraid to shower me with affection.

Posse of swooning girls essential. How else can I be sure you’re worth chasing? I need to see cold, hard evidence of your appeal in the form of a horde of desperate suitresses. The competition will also motivate me to make a move before another girl does. Plus, everybody knows that protagonists need to be spurred along by antagonists, so this would be a perfect time for me to demonize a student for my benefit. Sure, my main goal here is a Homecoming date, but why not kill two birds with one stone and also spice up my plotline?

Fake-dating optional. I’m not saying I’m offering up my services as a fake date in order to make your ex jealous, but…I’ve been told I’m a fantastic actress. Let’s say you have your eye on someone else — somebody who’s unfortunately already taken. I’m happy to step in and play the role of the doting girlfriend until your ex comes around. Warning: I will say that in every possible permutation of this situation, we end up falling in love by the end. Of course, we first need to have an enormous miscommunication in which neither of us knows whether the other person is still faking their interest or not, but eventually we’ll get there, so don’t go for this option if you really want your ex to come back.

Malibu beach house recommended. I wouldn’t call myself a gold digger, but having a fancy house certainly doesn’t lower your appeal. As I’ve been saying, I want the total teenage experience, and the media has proven to me that it includes a ton of all-school ragers because that’s what children decide to do when their parents go out of town for the weekend. What better way to ensure that I’m always invited to the hottest parties than to date the ultimate party-thrower? Some of you may not know this about me, but I’ve been called the “life of the party” numerous times, so we’d be the perfect match. All you have to do is plan the event at your mansion and I’ll come over and liven it up. It’s a win-win for both of us. No, this one isn’t necessary, but it sure would be great.

Love Triangle advised. You already know I have a thing for love triangles. We don’t have to go the Edward versus Jacob route, but difficult choices make life more interesting. I want to be forced to decide which dream boy I’ll pick. I don’t care if it’s stressful or causes me emotional pain — the drama is absolutely worth it. Am I going for the cynical, sarcastic loner who hates fun or the dumb jock I’ve been in love with since second grade? The fun is in the mystery! If you really want to win me over, start feuding with a polar opposite boy to get my attention.

I know that doesn’t really narrow down the list that much, because as romcoms will have you believe, there’s an abundance of attractive, wealthy teenage boys with hearts of gold just slipping under the radar of every high school. Even after removing everybody less popular than I am from the pool, there are still plenty of variables. That’s why there’s another element to the Homecoming courting process — the humiliating, public asks. Everybody wants to pull a “Say Anything,” but as Homecoming proposals get more and more extreme, they’re increasingly hard to top. I refuse to be asked in a manner that fails to delight the entire student body and make Chronicle headlines, so I’m stepping back into my role as Head Advice Giver to bestow upon my suitors just a few simple ideas on how to dazzle me before the big dance.

Test the waters. I’ll just cut to the chase: the best way to get someone to fall in love with you is to save their life. So, with that logic in mind, I’m thinking you push me into the pool, let me drown for a few seconds and then jump in (taking your shirt off, revealing rippling abs) to rescue me. Once I’ve been safely brought to land, you have an optimal opportunity to perform CPR on me. I’ll regain consciousness and whisper affectionately, “You saved my life. How can I repay you?” To this, you’ll reply: “Let me take you to Homecoming and we’ll call it even.” It’s perfect! Now we have the ideal meet-cute to tell our grandchildren about one day and we’ve both learned a valuable lesson on water safety.

Promise the moon. I’m not being figurative. If Neil Armstrong can do it, why can’t you? That’s right — my true match needs to love me to the moon and back, and I’m not settling for less. Sure, getting approved by NASA may be tricky, and yeah, you may have to train incessantly and bribe a few astronauts, but the best suitors shoot for the moon. Here’s what I’m thinking: You buy a rocket ship, make the trek to that lovely planetary-mass object and plant a flag that says “HoCo?” Then you fly back down, bring a telescope to school and ask me to look into it during lunch. Trust me; when I see the flag, I’ll be over the moon. Before you decide what I’m suggesting is too much effort, just consider it. It’s not like I’m asking for the moon; I’m just asking for a flag on top of it.

Sell your soul. The devil’s in the details, so sometimes the only rational move when planning the ultimate Homecoming ask is to talk to Lucifer directly. Even though everything Satan gives you may have disastrous consequences and cost you more than they’re worth, your proposal will most definitely impress me. You can ask for a magic shampoo that gives you the luxurious locks of a teen heartthrob (for the price of going bald the next day); wicked shoes that allow you to dance with a superhuman ability (but can never be removed); even chapstick that lends you a perfect singing voice with which to Sarahnade me (but prevents you from speaking ever again). Sure, condemning yourself to eternal torture in the underworld may seem like a high price for taking me to Homecoming, but I’m a really fun companion. Besides, if you’re not willing to make absurd sacrifices for me, then why would I accept your Formal invitation?

To recap, I’m looking for a single, handsome, possibly supernatural bad boy, sarcastic loser with potential, secretly handsome nerd, most popular kid in school or motorcycle-riding enemy to take me to Homecoming Formal this year. If you check any of those boxes, consider romancing me with a fantastic proposal, and maybe you’ll earn the privilege of buying me a corsage. Trust me, you don’t want to pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Ask me to the dance, and when I’m on the red carpet, famous for my revolutionary work with this column, you’ll get to say: “I took the Mittle-man on Campus to Homecoming in high school.”

Isn’t that everyone’s dream?