Lost in the Hopeless Pursuit of Finer Things

After this weekend, I have been shaken by a delayed realization on the condition of our generation. It is one which, I must confess, saddens me to state in such sweeping, unequivocal terms, but which nevertheless must be done: Despite all Lady Gaga- and Whole Foods-engendered delusions of worldly grandeur, we are not a sophisticated kind. Not even a little.

When, on May 1, No. 15 Magazine — a new student publication designed to “provoke thought and spark inspiration through the multifaceted world of fashion” — hosted a party on campus for its first issue, it wasn’t intended as another student-org event replete with construction-paper banners and Costco pizza. On the contrary, this was to be a high-class soiree — the type with cocktail napkins, plastic wine flutes filled with Martinelli’s (the student-org Cristal substitute of choice) and vaguely bourgie hors d’oeuvres like sushi and cupcakes.

Held on the top floor of the Village transfer-housing tower — the next best thing to an on-campus penthouse — the event even claimed to boast an exclusive VIP list. All this, mind you, in the name of sophistication. (And — my bad — the multifaceted world of fashion.)

While I personally could not be torn from my frozen dinner to make it all the way to that distant 15th floor, I’ve gathered from secondhand accounts and awkwardly incriminating photos (here’s to you, King Gupta), that what resulted wasn’t so much a grand gathering of fashionable sophisticates as a small congregation of American Apparel-clad freshmen, who had apparently pregamed with just enough Popov to make the night remotely fun.

Of course, No. 15 Magazine isn’t the only guilty one. Just last night, in fact, I attended a high-class potluck named the “pretentious party.” The night began with admirable intentions, as several of my friends and I left the house in our bow-tied best, complete with fragrant cheese platters and no fewer than five flavors of champagne. We danced to obscure music produced well before we were born. The host even committed to a razor-thin detective mustache.

By the time the clock struck 1 a.m., though, not only had my companion and I — doing our best “Gossip Girl” imitation — gotten lost on the bus; we had clogged the toilet, obtained stains on our sophisticated ensembles and been evicted from the hot tub by “the head” of the home owner’s association. Apparently, Mr. Bustamante could not relate to our thoroughly cosmopolitan desire to hop the pool fence and go swimming in our underwear.

At the end of the day, though, who can really blame us for our cheap attempts at sophistication? On a campus whose ritziest indulgence comes in the form of a lukewarm $8 plate of mac ‘n’ cheese from Zanzibar Cafe, it’s no wonder that some of us wish to pretend — if only with a three-minute waltz or $5 bottle of champagne — that the finer things are well within reach.

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