“In the year 2000,” writes Tom Wolfe , novelist and Grand Poobah of non-fiction, “in the era of hooking up, ?first base’ meant deep kissing (tonsil hockey), groping, and fondling; ?second base’ meant oral sex; ?third base’ meant going all the way; and ?home plate’ meant learning each other’s names. Getting to home plate was relatively rare, however.”
The phenomenon, this whole business of “hooking up,” so intrigued the seventy-year-old Wolfe that he slapped the term across the dust jacket of his most recent book. But is a hookup really so worthy of all this Wolfian disdain ? If he’s willing, she’s willing, and no one’s been arrested by dawn’s early light, who cares?
Back when every night was ladies night
My entire college was women-only, and the administration of our brother school, the University of Notre Dame, prohibited the twain from meeting by lumping men and women in separate dorms, then strictly enforcing “parietals,” curfews that tossed the opposite sex onto the sidewalk at two a.m. on weekends. The doors remained chastity-locked until ten a.m. the next morning.
Therefore, if you hooked up after a dorm dance (this was, and still is, the preferred method of Dating ?n’ Relating on Notre Dame’s social scene), and you found yourself doing decidedly un-Catholic things at 2:18 a.m., you were stuck in the hookee’s room for the rest of the night?it was either that or risk R.A. capture, which at the very least meant a phone call to where the tuition checks were coming from.
The anatomy of a hookup
Rarely did the participants speak again despite the romantic night of passing out on a narrow twin bed. Rather, a hookup was followed by averted eyes if the parties crossed paths on the quad. Actual sex was rarely had, but enough groping was usually accomplished to induce a certain amount of Catholic shame. He could look you in the boobs, but never in the eyes.
The hookup, fueled by that week’s vintage of Natural Light and a wild search for academic release, made a hazy sort of sense within the college context. Nineteen-year-olds plopped on a few halcyon acres with 16,000 other nineteen-year-olds, then brought together in a building containing many beds: This was asking for trouble.
Hormones at hookup time
The trouble, of course, comes with exercising the lovely physical aspects of a serious romantic relationship without an actual serious romantic relationship getting in the way of things. At the ripe old age of twenty-six, I digest what I used to do with guys I barely knew, and I place my head on the desk: What was I thinking?
I wasn’t, of course. Hormones are on cruise control at hookup time. The pleasures are fleeting and so, sadly, are the deep personal connections that make sexual activity the marvelous thing it is.
Where are they now?
I have no idea what my ex-hookup partners are up to these days. They may have been wonderful guys. I never had the opportunity to find out. And they, caught in a testosterone rush, busy doing Other Things, never felt the need to get to know me.