Screw Diaries

Every year at Swarthmore, on the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day, we set up our friends and roommates on blind dates. (These dates can be romantic or – like mine this year – strictly platonic.) We send our friends off with quirky costumes to find a special someone in Sharples Dining Hall with a carefully coordinated matching costume. Screw Your Roommate, as we call it, is a great way to meet new people – both on the actual dates and during the process of matchmaking. It’s also an exciting outlet for very public creativity. Sometimes, though, getting ready can be a bit of a rush!

The week of Screw was a tough one for me, with the combination of job interviews, seminar work, and an independent project with a deadline. On top of everything, I realized I would have to engineer an elaborate costume.

It didn’t start out that way. Two weeks before Screw, my friend sent my a comforting text:


This was fortuitous, since (I admit) occasionally I am a college student who hasn’t done laundry in a month. (Or at least a couple of weeks.) I happily prepared for two weeks of not scrounging around for a Screw costume.

It turns out, however, that no one gets away with going to Screw as herself. One week before Screw, my friend sent me a second text:


This was also convenient, since I happen to be the owner of at least three red shirts and a pair of maroon pants grabbed from my dorm giveaway bin. I began greedily cataloging my friends’ red clothes in my brain; maybe I could borrow S’s red coat – and doesn’t E have red boots?

However, two days before Screw, I realized my growing red wardrobe would not be enough. Far from it. I had just received a very unwelcome text:


Let’s be clear. In two weeks, my costume had transformed from this:


A real live specimen of a college student who hasn’t done laundry in a month: me as a first year. Did I even know how to do laundry yet?

To this:

The color red.

To this:

Specifically, the red dragon on the right- a character from the show Avatar the Last Airbender. 


Commence Project Throw-Together-A-Dragon-Costume-At-The-Last-Minute!

Actually, I didn’t exactly commence Project Throw-Together-A-Dragon-Costume-At-The-Last-Minute. Between my tutoring job, a job interview, and a tricky computer science lab, I was swamped. I resigned myself to wearing red and hanging aa “dragon” sign around my neck. My senior Screw costume was slated to be my lamest one yet.

On the morning of Screw, I woke up in exhaustion. Also, a mild sense of dread: I imagined myself greeting my Screw date in a red T-shirt with a sign around my neck saying, “dragon.” Nope, not gonna happen. My other work could wait – time to get creative.

Now, cue either epic music or training montage music. I gathered my supplies:


I made a huge mess:


I admired my work:

Evidently, dragons, like humans, are really awkward at taking full-body selfies.

As it turns out, I walked into my Screw date in style. (Or as stylish as you can be when you’ve just cut up your history class folder and tied it to your face.) In the huge crowd of the dining hall, my weirdly misshapen dragon eyes spotted another dragon; my date had artfully recycled an old blue Goodwill dress into a sort of reptilian cape and tail. We met, got food, failed to take any un-blurry pictures, and sat down to a lively 1.5 hour conversation. Topics ranged from family history to fencing to TV to how we feel about being photographed by strangers.

Even if I had walked into the dining hall with only a sign reading “dragon” around my neck… I’m sure it would have been delightful.


One thought on “Screw Diaries

Leave a Reply