Moderately Good Advice with Gardner and Kate
By Gardner Davis And Kate Taylor, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, January 18, 2013
Your advice last week was really helpful but do you have any more advanced tips on pretending to be good at pong?
— Unconfident Ulysses ’16
Gardner: Last week I covered the basics of not looking like an idiot while playing. Now I’ll go into the more subtle things that can make your mediocre game seem refined. Start by calling low on yourself early in the game, preferably on a shot that isn’t very low, to show that you hold yourself to a high standard. When you hit a bad shot or your opponent sinks your serve, seem surprised and listen for cracks in the ball by rolling it on the table with your paddle. If it happens again, look at your paddle then switch it out for another one, claiming it’s “not what you’re used to.” Also, make sure to spread out all puddles of liquid on the table, lest they alter the bounce of the ball slightly and throw off your rhythm.
If you want to take pretending to be good to the next level, take a full cup on the edge of the formation instead of a half cup in the middle when your opponent hits on their serve. This implies that you are so accurate that you have a better chance at hitting cups in the middle of the table. Best of luck.
Dear Gardner and Kate,
I’m trying to decide if I should apply to study abroad next fall. I’ve heard great things, but I’m worried about missing a term at Dartmouth. Do you have any advice?
— Hesitant Hermione ’15
Gardner: While I spend a lot of time poking fun at questions in this column, this will be one of the most sincere answers I give all year. You should absolutely go abroad. I had never really been abroad before coming to Dartmouth and did not consider it at first. It was not until the beginning of sophomore summer, when the fear of missing out set in, that I hesitantly took the plunge and signed up for a program that Fall. It was the Religion FSP, a subject in which I had taken one class, to Scotland, a place where they questionably spoke English, and the nine other students on my program were all girls. It was probably my favorite term at Dartmouth. It can be intimidating to miss time in Hanover since we’re only here for four years but you should go for it. Don’t know which program to pick? Go with Religion: Edinburgh is amazing and I only had class on Wednesday and Thursday.
Kate: Take a second to imagine yourself at the end of sophomore summer, a period of relative relaxation and security at Dartmouth. Do you, (A) want to remain at Dartmouth while it is flooded by freshmen who will make you feel old and overcrowded while your friends desert you, or (B) venture into the unknown with the potential to explore new places, befriend people you somehow never met at Dartmouth and spend surprisingly minimal time in class? Answer: (B), if you have the ability and any interest at all in doing so. As much as I hate to match Gardner in unbridled enthusiasm, my History FSP in London was a highlight of my time at Dartmouth. Don’t worry about where you’re going, just start sending in applications now until some program accepts you.
Dear Gardner and Kate,
I’m thinking about rush next year and am already considering which house I want to join. What are some clever ways to meet members of the house and get them to like me?
— Precocious Pat ’16
Gardner: Since your name and question are gender-ambiguous, both Kate and I will answer you. If you’re considering rushing a fraternity, you should stop asking this question. I can sum up my answer in three words: it is January. Do yourself and every brother you encounter in a basement a favor and don’t worry about something that won’t happen for nine months. Aside from making a complete fool of yourself, there is very little you can do right now to make an impact in rush next Fall. You could spend all your time trying to meet brothers and secure that bid, but you risk becoming that guy who annoys both upperclassmen and freshmen. No one likes that guy.
Kate: If you’re trying to brown-nose, there is honestly very little I can do for you, as one of the few positives associated with graduation is that I never have to engage in rush again. The only advice I can offer is to put aside any complex plots you’ve cooked up and rely on good old flattery. Upperclassmen and even ’15s like to pretend that they are older and wiser due to their few extra terms spent at Dartmouth. I mean, I have an advice column for goodness’ sake. Play into that sense of superiority to create a sort of understanding that you fall somewhere on the “chill” to “cute” spectrum, hopefully triggering a vague recognition next fall.
While procrastinating on homework, I’ve been puzzling over my Facebook profile. Any advice for crafting the perfect prof pic?
— Meticulous Mike ’13
Kate: Picking a profile picture is a skill. First, do a quick survey of your current prof pic repertoire. If it’s all pictures of you and your various exes, now is the time to begin choosing new profile pictures at a slightly increased rate and maybe subtly deleting one or two older shots. Ditto on MacBook selfies or that weird doppelganger phase. The addition of a cover photo was a recent game-changer, but don’t let it trip you up. Stick with what works: a photo where you look exceptionally attractive. Add points for amusing situation or outfit, family members, animals and/or exotic settings. Remember, the ideal profile picture is a subtle self-call, with a hint of self-deprecation. If you change it too often, you seem high-maintenance. If not enough, I have no idea what you look like.
Some people may say I am overthinking this question. However, your girlfriend’s friends from home, random people in your seminar and your future employer are all going to stalk the hell out of your Facebook. Your profile picture is basically your informal resume and Match.com persona all rolled into one. Choose it well.
Dear Gardner and Kate,
As we enter 2013, I have to ask: what are your New Year’s resolutions?
— New Year, New Yosef ’14
Gardner: I only have one New Year’s resolution. My dad made it for me: graduate.
Kate: Searching for inspiration for my 2013 resolutions, I turned to my list from last year to see how I had done. I found an embarrassingly-cliche list that included items such as exercise more, eat healthier, stop being a spinster, etc. As I forgot about these pretty quickly, my first task in 2013 is to stop making boring resolutions that I won’t follow. Instead, I’ve decided to use the supposedly legitimate nature of print media to give myself written permission to do whatever I want. With two terms left at Dartmouth, there’s no need to feel guilty for taking a study break to loiter around Occom Pond on that rare above-freezing afternoon. Realistically, you will actually get more out of catching up with a friend than pretending to work on your thesis. And because in the real world there is no Molly’s bread, eating a loaf alone while refusing to order anything but margaritas is nothing if not reasonable.