By Jessica Tolbert
My first sign that Safer Sex Night had begun were the shouts of joy from several of my male hallmates around 9:30 pm as they began to strip off their clothing en masse. Not that this is terribly out of the norm for Barrows – but there seemed to be a jollier spirit in the air as they drew their costume inspiration from one another and made changes accordingly – one donning a pair of those neon American Apparel briefs and a blazer (intent upon classing it up a tad), while someone else borrowed a female friend’s Daisy Dukes. “Nipple tape” was the phrase of the night, as the halls rang with the shouts of those trying to acquire it. My first real shock was wandering through the halls and lounges of Barrows and being visually assaulted by the sheer amount of skin. Female classmates I had regarded as rather demure wandered around in nothing but bras and underwear, some even pulling the ballsy “nothing but tape over the breasts” move. One girl, clad in jeans, sitting in the kitchen and bitterly studying for her midterm the next morning complained, “I feel so over-dressed.”
Perhaps it was just the crowd I was around but at some point the general consensus became that it would be gauche to show up at the dance right at 10 pm…a little too eager. I then joined a train of students wandering between Kahn and Barrows to admire each others’ outfits. More nipple tape ensued, along with shouts of delight over each other’s costumes, fully wrapped condoms taped onto bodies to conceal requisite areas, body glitter, garters, boxers, briefs, and everything in between.
During these wanderings I encountered a fellow first-year fully clothed and locking his bike. “You going tonight?” I asked. “Nah,” he responded. “Seems kind of dumb.” On one hand, his apathy was a refreshing change of pace from all the mostly naked pre-gaming madness erupting inside the dorms; but on the other hand, it was starting to seem that this was the closest thing we had to school spirit. Wouldn’t it be worth it to go if only to be part of a communal experience? I had been on the fence about going myself but I was still somehow convinced there might be something worthwhile in this madness.
I saw most of my classmates in their underwear. More nipple tape. It was suffocating in the ‘Sco itself, all sweaty and mostly naked people writhing everywhere – orgiastic might be an appropriate adjective. I danced some, got bored, and left. While I would normally excuse this by saying I’ve never been much of a dance person, I wasn’t alone. After wandering back to Barrows I encountered more than a handful of people, many still in full garb, whose general consensus was along the lines of, “that was it, huh?” Most of the joy really was in getting in costume together and experiencing a night of total absurdity in general, as opposed to the pre-established “fun” event, as is often the case with these things.
However, Safer Sex Night does make for a hell of a story to share with those not at Oberlin. I was discussing the evening with a friend at another school a day or two later, beginning my tale with the naked hallmates and concluding with something about waking up the next morning with tape still on my body and fully wrapped condoms tucked into the folds of my remaining clothing. Her response: “Why is this your life? Why is this your school?” I didn’t have much of an answer. “I dunno,” I replied. “Luck?” Though I might not be able to call Safer Sex Night the best party of my college career, it stands out to me as one of the many bizarre and potentially helpful and informative things that could only happen at Oberlin.