If you went to a private middle school in Manhattan, you are, without a doubt, familiar with the term “Goddard Gaieties.” And this term, without a doubt, evokes some of the slimiest, most sartorially-challenged memories of your (pre-)pubescence.
For those of you who aren’t picking up on the reference, the Goddard Gaieties is an annual kind of “coming of age” dance party held by a charity at a church on the Upper West Side for fifth graders from Brearley to St. Bernard’s to Buckley. More importantly, though, it’s where we all learned about a little thing called grinding (grind [grīnd] v.: To rub (two surfaces) together harshly; gnash.).
Throughout secondary school, dances like the Goddard Gaieties were organized so that us all girls’ school goers could (finally) interact with those all boys’ school goers. The best dressed gal donned her finest Lacoste hot pink polo (perhaps layered on top of another in a complementary lime green), paired with a tastefully frayed True Religion denim skirt and pair of Tory Burch flats (with a Juicy Couture zip-up tied around her waist in case the venue was a bit drafty); her Prince Charming (who ambled ‘round with a sharpie in his hand to brand as many girls as possible with the digits of his brand new LG phone) hit the scene in a blue and white striped Ralph Lauren button-down with the sleeves rolled up a few feet too high, some ill-fitted Abercrombie jeans, and a fresh pair of New Balances (and you better believe his wrist was always shielded by a yellow Livestrong bracelet).
Nearly nine years later, and I still remember the nauseating smell of Axe and premature desperation pervading the poorly ventilated room as we, in fact, popped our (already popped) collars to the beat of Three 6 Mafia’s “Poppin’ My Collar.” Girls danced in impossibly exclusive, impenetrable circles, and boys tried their hand at break-dancing. Things were innocent. Until the denim on denim friction commenced. Because these dances were typically held in churches, you might say that the moment the grinding began, God’s House devolved into God’s Hau5.
I think my aversion to grinding might be due in part to the fact that, as a good Catholic girl, it always disturbed me that all this disjointed dry humping occurred in holy places as the parent-chaperones looked on with saddened contempt.
In high school, those dances were replaced by “homecomings” put on by the Athletes By Day, Aspiring Club Promoters By Night of coed prep schools. With three or four good years of Grinding 101 under our Hollister belts, the object of going to these grimy happenings was to DFMO with as many people as we could (shout out to all my friends for managing to never contract herpes!). The awkward True Religion on Abercrombie action of years past now bordered on public fornication.
To be perfectly clear, I can dance. Employing some positive ethnic stereotypes, I will defend that statement simply by pointing out that I am indeed half Ecuadorian and half Colombian; being the ideal first-generation cross between vintage Xtina and current Shakira, I am genetically programmed to have sugar-sweet moves. That said, grinding really freaks me out. I think it’s partially because, like I said, whenever I’ve seen it go down and/or partaken in it, the setting has been bizarre.
This did not change in college.
At my school, the student entertainment organization arranges an event on the first Friday of every month called First Fridays (I’m in the process of finding the person responsible for christening the affairs, as s/he is undoubtedly The Wordsmith of his/her generation). For us City kids who understand the allusion, First Fridays have been dubbed glorified Goddard Gaieties. The comparison could not be more apt; First Fridays historically take place in what used to be the campus chapel, wherein campus’ Sweatiest grind. And even though we are unquestionably too f*cking old to be dry humping in a setting likened to a middle school dance party, we all go. Because First Fridays are the sh*t. There’s really nothing like seeing that one dude from Econ get his insufferable grind on with your friend while shouting in her ear, “Yo… so, this isn’t gonna be awkward in class, right?!” (Well now it definitely will be, dipsh*t).
I’ve seen it all in the realm of grinding casualties, from girls falling off the stage due to taking the phrase “face down, ass up” a little too literally to guys casually strolling out of the joint totally unaware of their FBEs (full blown erections); as a result (not only due to what I’ve bore witness to, but also just because, again, grinding really freaks me out), I am decidedly anti-grind. For those of us whose past experiences with the pitfalls of grinding have rendered us so, First Fridays can be ticklish because if there’s a dude (or a gal) you’re into, the last thing you want to do is shatter his or her ego when you shut down their summons to grind. But I just can’t (or rather, I just must).
Because for the record, everyone, while you may so wishfully think that you look like this in the act:
What’s really going down looks a whole lot more like this:
Featured Image Courtesy of The News Alchemist