Dear Ephelia

Ephelia Ephelia

How do I politely get someone to shut up and leave me alone? I am grateful to have many great friends, but I am not huge on having full-blown conversations while I am working in the library.  

Best-case scenario would be to make yourself so obviously unapproachable that they don’t come up to you in the first place. Don’t make eye contact, use props (your glasses, a pencil, your hair) to look stressed, and try to appear utterly absorbed in the task at hand. If this fails and your friend still comes up to you wanting to chat, do the polite small talk thing and tell them you’re swamped and really need to get back to work. 

Alternatively, buy fart spray or a high-frequency sound machine and make the environment near you so intolerable that no one will step within a five-foot radius. Check out my Amazon storefront for my personal recommendations! 

Dear Ephelia, like any Williams student, I’ve got people on campus I’d rather avoid, but given how small campus is, it’s getting kind of hard. I can’t keep diving behind bushes or hiding behind my taller friends at parties — help! How do I save both of us the awkwardness of running into each other?

Avoiding someone on a campus as small as ours is super easy! Simply never venture out of your room into public spaces. Who needs a library when you have a beautiful College-provided desk in your room? The dining hall wasn’t that good anyway — get a friend to pick up food for you. If effectively giving up on life isn’t your thing, then beg the study away office to let you go abroad for the rest of your college career.  

When is the course catalog dropping???

Do I look like the registrar? And more importantly, why is this such a pressing question? I love to worry about the future, and even I don’t stress about this. Please take a deep breath and focus on finishing this semester first. 

Update: scratch that. New course of programs just dropped. Time to go crazy and create an elaborate decision tree for the next academic year.

I keep picking the wrong guy. Got any tips for weeding out the bad ones?

I have made it my life’s mission to develop tests and algorithms for swiftly getting to the core of a human being (read: I was socially awkward in high school). One of my favorite ways to screen a man you are romantically interested in is the poetry litmus test. 

Consult your English major friend for a poem that is not as it seems, and send it to the man in question with a misleading or ambiguous remark. For instance, send Sheakespeare’s classic “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” sonnet 18 and say “thinking about you.” The poem is ostensibly about a man’s love and attraction, but it takes an astute reader to realize the addressee is also a man — a homoerotic twist. If he picks up on this, it’s likely that he’s going to be (a) thoughtful and intelligent or (b) a masterful manipulator. If he has a saccharine, over-the-top reaction, he’s probably mildly insane and going to lovebomb you. And if he has little to no response, he’s probably your run of the mill, I-don’t-read-poetry type of guy. “Bad” is dependent on your personal preferences, so do what you will with this information.

I’m in a long distance relationship (*sigh*), and I think something suspicious is going on. How do I catch a cheater? 

If you feel like something is off, then something probably is. But I get it: Trusting your gut is hard. It’s natural to want proof, especially if you are dealing with someone manipulative and deceitful. In the past, I have found success with VSCO, Spotify, and Venmo — check for cryptic pics, playlists, and payments. Live photos can be illuminating too, and don’t forget to turn your sound on. More dramatic ways to catch a cheater include hiring a private investigator, following your partner around in a wig, or seeing if they fall for an elaborate catfishing scheme.