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ISSUE 120 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/14/2007

Eat food, not face in Caf

By Lauren Radomski
Variety Editor

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Anyone living on a college campus is witness to public displays of affection. Even at St. Olaf, where some students bemoan a dire dating scene, sightings of intimacy are around every corner: handholding in the halls, back massages in Fireside, goodbye kisses outside the Cage.

I consider myself to be fairly tolerant of PDA. I may be a bitter singleton, but I still appreciate couples’' desire to express their feelings in public. I don'’t think the occasional kiss is inappropriate, and I find handholding rather sweet.

I’'m even willing to turn a blind eye when behavior borders on offensive. Case in point: when an overly affectionate couple joined me on one of Fireside’'s three-person couches last semester, I managed to ignore the roving hands and immerse myself in a book on campaign finance reform, a formidable challenge.

But throughout the course of the year, I have frequently witnessed one form of PDA so disturbing and inappropriate that I can no longer play Minnesota nice. I call it Caf booth cuddling.

You know you’'ve seen it. Maybe it’'s at a busy weekday dinner, when you turn into a Caf booth enclave only to find a couple who’'ve interpreted the dim lighting, scenic view and mild seclusion as an invitation to make up after a fight. But since Caf booth cuddling is not confined to the evening hours, you may have spent your breakfast across from a couple whose morning routine includes more than a bowl of Marshmallow Mateys. Like me, you may have found yourself feeling awkward, out of place and overly focused on eating your meal.

PDA in Caf booths can take many forms and I include a number of behaviors in the term “cuddling.” Lesser offenders are couples who sit next to each other on the booth side; however, even this can create an awkward situation for others eating nearby. As a friend pointed out, if you’re sitting alone in a booth, without anyone to block your view, you have very few places to look other than at the couple directly across from you. Furthermore, I have to wonder about the couples who can’'t bear to be separated by a table for 15 minutes--if this is the case, there are issues in the relationship that need to be addressed.

Yet for some couples, literal cuddling in Caf booths is not enough; full-fledged make out sessions are preferred. Why couples choose to do this is beyond me. Those booths aren’'t that comfortable--what’'s wrong with the good, old-fashioned dorm room couch?

Aren’'t people embarrassed to be making out in such a public place? While booths provide an illusion of seclusion, they are visible from many angles. A friend told me about a couple two years ago who made out in a Caf booth nearly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. Apparently this couple believed the booth shielded them from view, yet as my friend and other diners unfortunately found out, it did not.

But the very worst of Caf booth PDA actually involves food – one partner feeding it to another. I am fortunate enough to never have witnessed this behavior, but stories abound of couples who finger-feed each other at meal times. No one wants to see this. Please don'’t do it. Need I say more?

No doubt, Caf PDA is distracting and sometimes disgusting. But what troubles me most about it is the lack of respect it represents: whether they realize it or not, couples who regularly use booths to make out and more are disrespecting their peers.

Most people don’t enjoy watching intense PDA, especially over a meal. Couples who engage in Caf booth cuddling ignore the wishes of friends, classmates, professors and visitors. Yes, people disturbed by PDA can avoid it, and sometimes that’'s the best option. But in the Caf, a public space frequented by many in the community, PDA is simply inappropriate. There is a time and a place for PDA, and 6:30 p.m. in the Caf isn’'t it.

So to any couples reading this article, I have but one request: please show a little restraint. As a friend so wisely put it, when you'’re in the Caf, eat food, not face.

Variety Editor Lauren Radomski is a senior from New Brighton, Minn. She majors in political science and in American studies with a concentration in media studies.

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