Voices of Trips: Van Melikian ’14

Note: This post is part of the “Voices of Trips” series, featuring the individual experiences and perspectives of current Dartmouth undergraduates regarding DOC First-Year Trips. Check out the introduction to the series here.

Two Truths and a Lie

To say that I was at all nervous for trips would actually be a complete lie. I was pretty excited, all things considered, because trips marked the beginning of my Dartmouth experience, which was something about which I was very excited.

Van Melikian ’14 is a linguistics major from San Francisco, California.

The trip was physically going to be a breeze; while I was not a super experienced hiker, I was in decent enough shape that I knew I’d be fine. I figured that, if I didn’t get along with my trip leaders or trippees, I could suck it up for a few days and just make new friends once I actually got on campus. Anyway, the odds of me not connecting with a single person on my trip seemed so astronomically small that it was a possibility that I barely considered.

My DOC Trip started pretty much without a hitch for me. Everyone on my hiking trip seemed nice enough, and I actually connected pretty quickly with several of them. The icebreaker games on the first day all were fun, and, as expected, I was enjoying myself.

Shortly into the second day, though, I realized something very abruptly. I’m not sure what triggered this sudden realization, perhaps it was some stray comment that someone said or maybe my mind just wandered to it while I was walking: Nobody else here knows that I’m gay.

This was actually a position fairly foreign to me, since I had long since come out in high school, and my sexuality was something that I never really hid. However, the combination of having met new people and not really having an appropriate time to mention it had put me in a position that I hadn’t been in for quite a while.

Eventually, we reached our resting place for the first evening on the Appalachian Trail, and we decided to play a game of “Two Truths and a Lie”. It’s a game familiar to many: Each person, in turn, says two things true about themselves and a single false thing, and the group tries to guess the lie. As we went around, I realized that this would be about as good of a chance as I would get to come out to my trip. After all, I could just stick in something else more absurd that they would guess to be false, and they would all take it as my way of coming out.

“…the combination of having met new people and not really having an appropriate time to mention it…made me realize this would be as good of a chance as I would get…”

So, my turn arrives, and I give them my three statements: First, that my friend’s father was going to be on the upcoming season of the reality TV series Survivor; Second, that I’m gay; and third, that my first video game console was a Nintendo 64. From my perspective, this was a simple enough set of statements to construct. The first one, the most absurd seeming statement, was the bait answer that I expected them to take, when in reality the third statement was the lie.

To my surprise, my trip struggled with what I had put forth. After much deliberation, they had decided that the lie was the one about my sexuality. Now, I was suddenly on my back foot, since I hadn’t really considered that as a statement that they would question. Left to improvise, I responded with the first witticism that came to mind:

“Nope, I’m queer as a three dollar bill.”

Everyone had a good laugh at my response, and, needless to say, the rest of my DOC Trip went off without a hitch.

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