On the Yale social scene, tailgate-based socializing is considered especially important. In the senior class, one dedicated SWUG who investigates this social phenomenon is the sole member of an elite persona known as Chloe Drimal. This is her story.
I’m seated in a booth at Box when Chloe Drimal strolls in. At 6’6”, I would stand over half a foot taller than the glamazon of the Yale blogosphere. But as she approaches the booth, I do not stand: it’s clear who dwarfs whom. Seated, I awkwardly extend my hand in a feeble attempt at a handshake. Chloe swiftly dodges my hand and embraces me: we are hugging. I am an awkward hugger. I’m even more awkward of a hugger when I am seated and my fellow hugger is standing. And yet the discomfort quickly dissipates. Chloe Drimal is hugging me. The last Yale celebrity is hugging me.
The self-proclaimed tailgating queen has pink streaks in her hair, a recent addition if my Facebook stalking is correct. (It is.) She dons a golden necklace around her neck. At first glance, I believe it reads: “Barbie.” Please don’t let it say “Barbie,” I think to myself. I’m hesitant to sneak a second glance – I don’t want her to think I’m staring at her boobs. (As far as I can tell, clothed, they are not, to the naked eye, two different sizes.) My worries are assuaged: the necklace does not spell “Barbie”; rather, it proclaims “Chloe.” The umlaut is visibly absent.
We start making small talk, but before our discussion can begin in earnest, we are interrupted by Tommy and Carl, Yale’s favorite neighborhood bar owners. Everyone claims to be best friends with Tommy and Carl, but I can attest that Chloe Drimal is actually best friends with the two.
“I don’t know if we made you or you made us,” Carl remarks to Chloe.
Without missing a beat, Chloe responds: “I made you.”
The two launch into a playful, heated argument, as old friends are wont to do. Carl suggests that Chloe conduct an informal survey of sorts, asking people: “How do you know about Box, and how do you know about Chloe?”
(Well, Box, I guess I’d have to answer your question with another question: Is Box 63 the Bullblog’s Crush of the Week? No. Chloe Drimal is.)
Chloe herself answers the question more convincingly, invoking upperclassman privilege: “I was here first. I am a senior; you’re a sophomore.”
Chloe and Carl begin to recount the story of how the bad romance began. With their recollections conflicting, the two argue back and forth.
“Your memory… wow, I’m sorry. You need to take your Omega-3s,” Chloe says at one point.
Eventually, they agree upon a basic story: Shortly after Box’s opening, Chloe and a small group of friends show up to Box on a Sunday for some drunch. With a storm on its way, Carl tells Chloe that Box is to be closed shortly after their arrival. Chloe convinces Carl to remain open provided that she attract a larger crowd. Similar to when Jesus turned a few loaves of bread and some fish into a bountiful feast, Chloe turns her modest group of five into a not-so-modest group of 75. Over the course of the night, Box’s computer system crashes, Tommy and Carl run out of beer, and Chloe Drimal is forever immortalized as the unheralded grand dame of Box 63.
But how did Chloe go from being a mere party girl to Yale’s very own Carrie Bradshaw? (Okay, she’s more like what would be birthed if, somehow, Carrie Bradshaw and Xena: Warrior Princess managed to conceive.)
Drimal began her very own blog, Live Chaotically, at the onset of this academic year. Frustrated with its lack of visibility, Drimal took matters into her own hands.
“So I woke up one day. I was like hungover, and I’m on Facebook. And I was talking to people, and I was like: I just want more views! How do I get more views?”
She spoke with some of her friends. One gave her an idea. He told her to “send it to the YDN. That stuff goes viral. They might not do anything, but maybe they will.”
Drimal heeded his advice and sent an editor at the YDN a link to her site with the hopes that they could plug it somehow. Bewilderment followed. The editor responded: “I don’t know what this is. I’m confused.” After Chloe explained her vision, the editor offered: “Umm, you could write something for us, but otherwise we can’t help you out.”
Thus, an unholy alliance was formed.
Chloe penned her first piece about SWUG-dom, a social phenomenon that encapsulates the lives of “Senior Washed-Up Girls.”
“I wrote SWUG as a joke… I made it for my friends.”
The article garnered considerable attention around campus. Comments ranged from “LOL” and “Best. Column. Ever.” to “UWUG – unemployed washed-up girl” and “Your parents must be proud that this is how their tuition money is being spent.”
Chloe admits: “My parents weren’t happy about it…” It’s hard to imagine, but the fun and easy-going Drimal was a bit torn up upon reading such negative comments: “It really affected me at first… but then… I don’t care anymore. I was really upset that day. I didn’t know what to do. I’ve written before, but I’ve never written publicly.”
“I guess it was maybe ignorant of me? I didn’t think of any repercussions.”
However, things have changed since Drimal wrote the article. Today, this SWUG just shrugs off all the hate from the naysayers. Her parents seem to have come around, too: “They came and surprised me at the Princeton tailgate,” she says. And that, my friends, brings us to our next topic: Tailgates.
Drimal sees tailgates as way of fostering school spirit and unity between different social groups, kinda like Ja’mie King sees formals as breaking the apartheid of the playground.
I ask Drimal about her experience at the Game two years ago.
She laughs. Slightly embarrassed, she concedes: “Last time, I couldn’t find the tailgate. I went to the Port-a-Potty, and my friends didn’t wait for me.” Some friends.
Wisely, she says with a noticeable amount of gravitas: “So when you get there – everyone needs to be aware of this – you don’t have cell service.”
I think to myself: Down and out, lost and alone, what was a girl to do? But if there’s a fun time to be had, Chloe Drimal will find it. Especially at a tailgate.
“First I found my way to the alumni tailgate for Harvard, and I was like with these 80-year-old men, and they were giving me ribs. And I thought, This is awesome.”
“Then I was like, I’ll go watch the game in a bar. So I leave alone – I don’t know why I’m always alone. So I find my way – I’m walking toward Cambridge – and I heard these loud noises. It was a Finals’ Club – it’s called the Fly. And I had the best time of my entire life.”
Moral of the story?
“Follow your heart.”
Like any good expert in a particular field, Chloe has traveled to foreign lands to gain perspective on her area of expertise: tailgating. We begin discussing her recent foray into South, where she visited a friend at Southern Methodist University. How was it different?
“Tailgating was awesome. You know, the sad thing is that it was bigger. It wasn’t as crazy… with wacky outfits… It was dressing nicer, for the most part. At the same time, it was huge. It was on a boulevard… they had tents, and live bands, DJs, alcohol, food. It was really awesome. I was really jealous.”
The nature of the tailgates wasn’t the only thing that differed.
“The guys were definitely more gentlemanly. Oh yeah, without a doubt. Like buying drinks… It was nice change of pace. I don’t think a guy has ever bought me a drink at Yale. I think I’m the one usually buying them the drinks. Like, ‘Okay, I’ll buy you a tequila shot.’”
Since she hinted at it, I ask her about her romantic life at Yale. She tells me she enjoys being single at the moment.
“The cut-off is 35… maybe 30. Around there.”
But I want more! I ask her whom she would make crush of the week if she had the esteemed task.
But I probe further. Come on. Just one name. Even better if it’s from afar. Even better if it’s an underclassman.
I’m hoping she’ll say me. She doesn’t.
“Jeff Schmittgens… I think he’s really cute. He’s got a whole southern thing going on.”
“Also a freshman on the football team… He’s really cute. Blake… something. But it’s more from afar. You… you’re going to be a catch.”
Tomorrow marks the end of Chloe’s tailgating career as an undergraduate, and while she can always come back as an… AWUG, it’s hard to escape the fact that college is winding down. How does she feel about it?
“I guess I don’t really have many regrets, because I’ve had a great four years.”
As her senior project for American Studies, Chloe is writing a novella. As for plans for the future?
“I think I want to go in the entertainment business, in some form or another… the talk show world, or the TV writing world. I wanna be in LA. New York is just not really my thing. I’ll probably be here at some point, but I love change of paces, and I need a change of pace.”’
Our glorious two hours together are winding down, but I can’t help but want to squeeze more creativity out of Drimal. I ask her to describe herself…in a haiku.
As a parting gift, she offers:
“SWUG life is awesome
it’s being free just like me
(‘I don’t know if this really makes sense, but I’m gonna go with it.’)
Color is better.”