By Elizabeth Khalil

It’s that time of year again. No, not midterms – Dip Ball. Tickets go on sale in just 24 days. The first thing you’ll need is formal wear, but you can handle that one on your own. (One caveat: for the past three years, 90 percent of girls attending Dip Ball have worn that ubiquitous Jessica cClintock ball gown. Please show a little more creativity this time.)

The other thing you’ll need is a date. No going solo or doing the group thing for you. Maybe that worked for the prom, but not now. No, sir, you’re a big grown-up Hoya now, the parental checks notwithstanding, and you want an escort. And so the hunt begins.

The date-selection process may seem daunting, even overwhelming, especially for the first-timers out there in Hoyaland. Not to worry. As a veteran of way too many black-tie events – I have an unofficial minor in Formal Affairs – I’m here to help.

First, think of all the possible people you would even consider going to Dip Ball with (even the people you want to go with, but wouldn’t go with you; it’ll be fun to disqualify them later). Assign them scores in several categories – the specific categories depend on what is important to you personally, but here are some suggestions:

1. Photogenicity. Okay, so maybe I made that word up. I can do that; I’m a linguist. (Well, I’m in FLL). Anyway, Dip Ball is perhaps the most-photographed event of the year. You want someone who’s going to look good in pictures. There’s a subjective quality to this category; it’s not just high cheekbones and shiny hair alone. You must consider each candidate’s looks in the context of your own. Remember that a tall date will make you look shorter and vice versa. If weight is a problem for you – either way – you might want to pick someone on the heavy or skinny side to balance you out.

2. Personality. Lest you think this is strictly a beauty competition, I also recommend grading your contestants on their personal attributes. Arm candy – i.e., dates with dazzling looks – will help you make a grand entrance to the ball, but you want to have fun once you’re there. If your date isn’t fun, you won’t have fun. You’ll probably have to ditch them sometime during the evening, which really isn’t nice.

3. Dancing philosophy. Look for someone whose dancing style complements your own. If you hate to dance, look for someone who will accompany you on the sidelines in making fun of other people (or – let’s cut to the chase here – making out). If you love to waltz, penalty points must be assigned to someone who only knows the Macarena. Actually, no matter what, penalty points must be assigned to someone who can only do the acarena.

4. Conflicts of interest. Subtract points for any history the candidate has with others in your circle. Certain characteristics are grounds for instant disqualification – for example, exes of your roommates are strictly hands-off. The same goes for crushes of any of your friends. True, there’ll be a lot of people there, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re going to avoid anyone. You’ll end up hanging out together and probably even going to dinner beforehand.

After you’ve assigned every candidate a score in each category, choose finalists (or even semifinalists or quarterfinalists, if your list is that long).

An interview portion of the process may be helpful at this point. Don’t worry, you don’t have to assemble a panel of celebrity judges. The content of the questions should relate to what you think is important to your Dip Ball experience.

You can also forgo the swimsuit portion, as Dip Ball is not really that kind of event. Speedos don’t really come under “black tie.” If that’s what you envision, your Dip Ball night will probably be a lot more exciting than mine will.

If you feel like it, you can get your candidates to perform a light-hearted dance number, preferably accompanied by Miami Sound achine, and videotape them saying how they’re all friends and they are just happy to be nominated. Well, maybe that’s stretching things a bit.

Of course, you could always bypass the drama and go with a pal, like I’m doing. But I’m also a senior. How many times in life do you get the chance to hold your own private pageant? Four, when it comes to Dip Ball. Enjoy it while you can.

Best of luck, and may the best contestant win.

Elizabeth Khalil is the assistant features editor of The Hoya and a senior in the College.

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