Tonight, it was proven that, on occasion, Sarah Cahalan can, in fact, be a hopeless romantic. Before you get your hopes up (I'm lookin' at you, Mom), this story is not about me. Nay, this tale involves two star-crossed freshmen, a rubber duck, and levels of cuteness unparalleled by anything this campus has seen in years.
The story begins earlier this evening, when I returned to my dorm to find two young gentlemen struggling to get in the front door. I caught them out of the corner of my eye as I bee-lined for my usual side door and decided I'd take pity on them and let them into the dorm. After all, I vividly remember my (embarrassingly long) time as a freshman who didn't understand how swiping into other dorms worked. So I let these boys in and explained what they had been doing wrong. They thanked me and, as I turned to walk away, asked me if I could help them with something. Having nothing better to do and being in an oddly charitable mood, I said I'd be happy to, and they started in on their story.
For those of you who don't know, this weekend at Notre Dame was Freshman Orientation, better known as Frosh-O. An integral part of the Frosh-O experience is serenades, a strange, awkward tradition in which the freshmen learn choreographed dances to various love songs and recent pop hits and perform them for freshmen of opposite-gender dorms. While Show Choir Sarah loved serenades, most freshmen find them to be nothing but ridiculously awkward. (Which, of course, they are, which is why Frosh-O is so much better as a staff member who can sit back, watch, and mercilessly laugh.) This fellow, however, had used one particular serenade as a chance at a love connection and, unbeknownst to him, a wonderful blog post.
You see, this boy had, at some point during Frosh-O weekend, come to be the owner of a small rubber duck. Where he found/acquired it I don't really know; considering how long it took for him to explain that he wasn't talking about an actual, live duck, I wasn't going to push for details. Regardless, though, he had this duck and had struggled for hours with what to do with it. Conveniently, just as he faced this conundrum, the freshman Ducks of Howard Hall arrived at his door for serenades. In this, he saw his chance. He and his fellow Highlanders serenaded the Howard ladies and, at the end of the song, he gave said duck to the girl to whom he was singing. This could have been just another fluffy bit of awkward Frosh-O mating rituals - but then he showed up tonight in Howard.
As he and his friend proceeded to explain, he was on a quest to find the recipient of the aforementioned duck. He knew neither name nor room number nor, in fact, anything about this girl except that she lived in Howard and had long brown hair...they thought. But he wanted to meet the girl he had given the duck to, for, if nothing else, "We could be really unlikely friends, and that would be cool." Obviously, by this point, my heart had melted all over the floor. I had to help him. So, armed with nothing but the thought of some possibly brown hair, I pointed him to our handy-dandy freshman photo bulletin boards. He and his friends looked them over and determined that none of the 30 or so girls from our freshman class pictured on the boards looked familiar - though, as they kept repeating, it was dark, so they could be mistaken as to the lucky duck's identity. At this point, the boys gave me their idea. "Could I give you my number so you could, like, let me know if you find her?" This was a strange proposition, and the thought briefly crossed my mind that this could all be some elaborate scheme to get the phone number of an upperclassman. But then I remembered that I'm just morally corrupt enough to be completely willing to give my number to a random, relatively good-looking freshman, so I agreed. The duck-giver gave me his number and officially introduced himself and his friend. I proceeded to have a lovely chat with them about the various student-run publications on campus, and I sent them on their way.
At this point, my journey began. It was barely 7:30 at this point, I had no plans for the evening, and I'd been meaning to meet the new freshmen anyway, so I decided I'd just start going door-to-door. That's right, people. I knocked on the door of every freshman room in Howard. At each room where I got a response, I promised them I wasn't a total freak, explained my weird but well-intended matchmaking mission, and asked for any information they could give me about a girl who was given a duck. After visiting every single room with a 2016 grad year on the door, I'd received nothing more helpful than "It could be Ellie. Or Ellie's tall friend." I popped by the room of my friend, the first-floor RA, to tell her my story. She found her dorm roster and informed me there were no Ellies in the freshman class (though there were some promising Danielles). As I sat and gossiped with her, a group of freshmen walked by. I ran (literally, not kidding, I ran) into the hall and stopped them. I promised once again that I was not some crazed maniac - a somewhat harder sell this time than even the door-to-doors had been - and told them all I knew. They informed me that Ellie's tall friend was, of course, Chloe, and that Chloe lived down the hall. I internally noted how ridiculous my life was in this moment, and obviously went immediately to Chloe's room. I stepped in and asked the two girls in the room if they were Chloe. They weren't. Somewhat dejected, I asked if they knew anything about a girl who got a duck from a Duncan boy. The brown-haired girl in the lounge chair, who I noticed was not in a picture on the bulletin board, answered, "Oh yeah, I did!"
Be still, my heart.
I informed her that I was about to make her day, and told her the whole story. She was, rightfully, incredulous. "Really? He was, like, really cute!" Having found at last the girl who fit in the proverbial glass slipper, I passed on the boy's number to his ducky Cinderella. She texted him, I chatted with her and her friend (who, as the story gets weirder and the world smaller, knows several of my relatives) about various college things, and headed out, my good deed completed for, oh, the year. To follow up, I went ahead and texted the kid myself, just to inform him I'd found the girl. He assured me that he had gotten her text and that I was awesome.
No, kid, you are awesome.
For me, nothing is going to top this story for a long, long time. Who knows what will happen with these two. Perhaps nothing at all. But gosh darn it, they just created what might be the cutest Frosh-O love story of all time. If either of you are reading this, I apologize for spilling everything you told me tonight all over the internet, but mostly I just entreat you - I better be invited to your wedding.