When I arrived at Tufts University as a wee young freshman, I expected my college experience to be one of learning, personal growth, and academic challenge. All I wanted, really, was the classic British professor with white hair, glasses and a tweed blazer to lecture about obscure information, and then act rather startled when class ended because he was so engrossed in his lecture that he lost track of the time (shout out to Hugh Roberts for making that dream a reality ).
What I didn’t expect, however, was to receive another (equally as important) education: one in acronyms. Who knew that Tufts students valued abbreviating their words almost more than classes themselves? From NARP (non-athletic regular person), to TBH (to be honest), to TBQH (to be quite honest), by the time I arrived home for my first Thanksgiving break, no one could understand what I was saying.
But I didn’t even care that my mom refused to have full conversations with me. Acronyms and abbreviations were so fun! When my friends used them and I actually understood what they meant, I felt cool—like I was in this fun, inside joke that no one else understood. And, let me tell you, I got a real kick explaining them to my parents. Nothing makes you feel more like a young, hip millennial than explaining slang to people who are older than you, well, maybe besides teaching your grandparents how to use an iPhone.
Regardless, though, there was one acronym that proved to be a little strange for dinner table conversation: the DFMO. When you try to explain to the family that DFMO means “dance floor make-out,” and that it’s kind of like a sub-classification of the “hookup,” but that “hookup” kind of means different things to different people, things get weird. Then you end up explaining that to some people “hookup” means sex but other times people say they “hooked up” but they didn’t even go home with the person.
And then you end up doing dishes alone in your kitchen wondering why in the world you feel the need to be so open with your parents.
And even later, you end up squirming in your bed, pulling the covers over your face when your mom comes into your room and asks you if it’s “really that normal for people to make out in front of everyone” and you say “Yes mom, it’s college, people don’t care at all. Can I please go to sleep now?”
To be quite honest TBQH, I gave a pretty hasty response to my mom that night. I was embarrassed and also I really wanted her to get out of my room. But, even though it was hasty, I thought my answer was an honest one at the time. DFMOs were totally normal, especially when I was a freshman dancing in sweaty frat basements. No one really noticed when it happened, and no one really cared.
It took me a little while to realize that this was only true for a very specific type of person. When a cisgender, heterosexual guy is making out with a cisgender, heterosexual girl it’s true—no one really gives a shit. But if you stray away from this norm, even a little bit, things start to get a lot more complicated.
Take me, a cisgender woman, for example. When I would go out freshman year, I would sometimes make out with boys on the dance floor. Even though sometimes my actions may have been pretty ridiculous (I was quite a scene freshman year) I never got a comment, not once.
But then I started making out with girls on the dance floor. Suddenly, a lot more people began to take notice, and I don’t mean in like a “oh hey, good for you!” type of way. I mean in a way that has made me pretty uncomfortable.
I have been filmed, I have been followed, and I have received some pretty strange comments. They range from pretty innocuous ones such as “You two have fun tonight” to pretty repugnant ones like “That was so hot, we should just put you guys in the corner here every time we have a party.”
And this is not to say this happens all the time. In fact, these encounters have been few and far between. Furthermore, I have received nothing but the utmost support and love from all of my friends and, for the most part, from the larger Tufts community.
But my mostly positive experience doesn’t negate the fact that I’ve been the recipient of some nasty, offensive comments. And I’m really just not sure what to do about it. Do I just stop making out with people in public? Do I just try to ignore it? Honestly, I’m not really sure what to do. I’m just kind of bummed.
I’m bummed that these comments brought to light a harsh reality: not every single person I meet is going to be totally cool with who I am. I think that I’ve always known that, it just sucks that these events had to occur to make me internalize it.
Ultimately, it’s important to realize that these comments aren’t going to change my life, and I don’t really think they’re going to change my actions either. In the end, the only thing I can do is offer some parting words to the people who made those nasty comments….
… STFU and GTFO.