The Art of Getting Out More

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I found myself plastered against the walls of some college party for the first time at 18. It was a Saturday night in February, and although I would have been completely content reading the last 57 pages of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway—low lighting, vanilla almond tea with honey, alone—there I stood, crammed in the corner of some upperclassmen’s off-campus house.

I didn’t even know the guys, but I dragged myself outside into the crippling cold of winter—in search of a sort of artistic enlightenment. Truthfully, I got sick of hearing that I needed to “get out more” because apparently, it isn’t normal for a college girl to read Virginia Woolf on a Saturday night. They told me I wasn’t truly “living” if I hadn’t attended a college party, so to get them to shut up, I departed from the comforts of my dorm room to fully experience this art of “getting out more.”

Before the scene became spattered with cologne-infused sweat and chunks of nacho cheese vomit, all seemed relatively calm and awkward. For the most part, people came in groups, other than a few stragglers, who were all too stoned to even know where they were. The upperclassmen already hit up the local bar and nearly broke down the door when they stumbled into the house; their worn out Nikes tracked muddy snow into the carpet. That girl with the long, straight blonde hair and designer skinny jeans clung to her boyfriend’s arm as he cracked jokes with his posse. The stoners wandered around aimlessly, and whenever they felt compelled, they sat uncomfortably close to someone on the couch and attempted to initiate philosophical conversations that began with “Where are we?” and ended with “a rainbow cat sitting at a typewriter.” Whatever that means.

Then, there were my friends, who were really just disguised humanities nerds, hiding beneath their nose rings and baggy thrift-store clothing. I could see right through them all, but everyone else was unperceptive enough to believe these cheap, plastic fronts everyone threw on over their real selves.

Okay, here is where the art really came to life. First, the artists took turns tastefully mixing their own alcoholic concoctions—Pepsi, rum, blue Kool-Aid, Sprite, vodka, Sunkist, beer, cream soda, tequila, you name it. That was the thing about “getting out more,” everyone had such artistic freedom to create.

Then, things got theatrical, as the artists began their reckless games. In the kitchen, an assortment of men fought to prove their masculinity in a game of beer pong. They hurled ping pong balls across the table, slammed down red solo cups of beer, chanted like wildebeests, and for some reason, they all ended the game without shirts, showing off their hairy bellies and chests. I don’t believe the removal of clothing was ever a rule of the game, but hey, who can argue with art?

Downstairs, I witnessed an abstract dance recital. The songs all bled together—obnoxious bass sounds, driving the rhythm and a few audible words having something to do with phallic symbols such as “anacondas” and “disco sticks.” I initially felt quite claustrophobic and overwhelmed, but I reminded myself that I was witnessing art and found solace in another corner. I watched the dancers flail their limbs through the air, accidentally knocking over someone’s drink, aggressively making out against the wall and burping into each other’s mouths, whipping necessary clothing items into the air. Wow, what creative chaos!

As one knows though, all great art ends one of two ways. It ends either passed out in the ditch as frostbite eats away at his unconscious flesh because he thought it would be logical to wander into the snow in the middle of February without shoes, or crouched on the bathroom floor, dry heaving the remains of her stomach because she drank far more than the recommended amount.

Now, I could tell them all I experienced it—I experienced the art of “getting out more,” and I am so very thankful I did because the next Saturday, and the Saturday after that and every Saturday after that, I remained in my dorm room, reading classical literature. I guess I’m simply not a true artist, and I’m okay with that, I think.

Emma Deihl is a junior at Luther College, studying English, psychology, and Spanish. She loves wearing wool socks, making indie/folk playlists for the road trips she hopes to take, and wandering through farmers markets in search of weird vegetables.

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