Oberlin Barter and Trade Flirting
CORRIE PURCELL // NOVEMBER 15, 2019
I’m no stranger to the annoying ways Oberlin Barter and Trade is misused, having dabbled in almost all of them myself. Though I would never ask you to buy something on the page, I have definitely failed to follow through on several “bag of lavender in exchange for a required text for class” trades. I’m not proud, but I will admit to requesting a ride or two to Johnny’s, asking for absurdly easy-to-obtain items like paper clips, and, in the case of a particularly insane week my first year, used the page in lieu of a drug dealer. I’ve bartered out the last pill in my birth control pack, half a bottle of saline solution, a lone sock, and shoes with heels torn off. A couple of times, I’ve even gone to the other extreme and asked for inappropriately large things, just to sort of see what would happen; my first year I attempted to climb my way into Firelands by asking if anyone wanted to barter and trade housing slots.
These are all things I would never post now--I’ve learned a lot from subtwitter. However, there is one misuse of the page that still I tolerate, nay, encourage: Oberlin Barter and Trade flirting. Though perhaps a difficult skill to initially pick up, this tactic lends itself to casual, practical, and infinitely sexy flirting with the added bonus of mutually-assured plausible deniability. For those of you who have never dipped your toes in the world of Oberlin Barter and Trade flirting (hereafter OBTF) let me provide you with the basics.
First, pick your product. The ideal OBTF product is one that you know your OBTF partner owns. It is specific enough that they will feel called to respond, but common enough that you can still claim that sweet sweet plausible deniability (SSPD).
DO: “Does anyone have a tent I could borrow for the weekend?”
This request is also ideal for demonstrating your charming, outdoorsy disposition, and your shared interest in camping. Okay, now let’s imagine your potential OBTF partner is a soprano saxophonist.
DON’T: “Anyone have candles?” or “Does anyone have a soprano saxophone I could borrow?”
These requests are both dangerous, but for opposing reasons. The first request is too broad. A large portion of the Oberlin campus has a candle to offer, and you don’t want to attract just anyone with your OBTF request; if you follow the “Too Common” route with your request, you may find yourself deleting replies off of your post so that your OBTF partner thinks no one has replied to you. This has both the negative consequence of being decidedly Not Chill, and making it seem as though no one, not a single person, likes you enough to respond to your very easily-fulfilled request.
The second request, however, swings too far in the opposite direction by being far too specific. Though your soprano saxophonist OBTF partner does definitely own a soprano saxophone, this seems like a cry to a potentially defining characteristic of your OBTF partner, and runs the risk of leaving them with undesired thoughts such as “Just text me, coward”.
The ideal product is one you’ve seen in their room, or have discussed with them in person, but is not a defining characteristic of either of your personalities. It should also be an object you actually need. The perfect object is one that allows you to be relaxed and unconcerned with this request. There should be no downside to receiving the object, be it from your ideal OBTF partner or not. The best part of OBTF flirting is the practicality of the practice: the best possible scenario is one where your OBTF partner gives you the object, however, the worst possible scenario is one where you still get the object you need. The perfect object may be difficult to know as you begin practicing your OBTF skills, but I guarantee that with practice you will be able to know exactly the object to illicit a response from the perfect person.
Now, sit back and wait. The best part about OBTF is that you need this object, so there’s no need to stress about your request! Your plausible deniability should be able to extend to you as well; you have no reason to be concerned, this is a very practical, truly necessary, and largely reasonable barter.
If and when the exchange occurs, feel free to invite them over to your place, perhaps inviting them in for a cup of tea, or even coffee. Remember: you should thank them for their kindness, perhaps offering to buy them coffee or if you are feeling frisky, dinner. Trust your gut. You’re prepared for this, after all, you are a master of the technique and of your own OBTF future. Buck up buddy! It’s go time.