Issue #22 – “The Final Semester” – January 2001

-Well, this is it, my last semester of college.  Where did the time go?  It seems like only yesterday I was a lowly freshman trying to figure out how to do my laundry, getting lost on campus, and drinking way too much.  Now, well, at least I figured out how to do my laundry!

-So I noticed they started selling the energy drink Red Bull at the commissary at school.  Here at Penn, when you buy stuff at the commissary, you put it on your school ID card and the bill goes right to your parents.  Considering I’ve never seen anyone drink a Red Bull without at least three shots of vodka in it, this is just another example of the university supporting students’ drinking habits.

-Last semester there was a black tie, open bar event at school.  Everyone was getting wasted.  One of my friends had a little too much and decided he needed to take a break, so he sat down in a bathroom stall.  He then proceeded to pass out completely.  At 4am, when everyone was long gone, the janitor found him, in his tuxedo, still passed out on the toilet.  He had to wake him up, carry him outside, and throw him in a cab.  The moral of this story is, if you’re gonna get really fucked up and pass out somewhere, at least do it while dressed well.

-How the fuck are you supposed to register for classes when the course catalogue uses such crazy abbreviations?  The classes are listed as like “Anc. Dem. Hist. Iden. Sem.”  What the fuck is that?

-So there was all this controversy about the presidential election and the so-called butterfly ballot where a bunch of people messed up and voted for the wrong guy.  Everyone was upset about how such a ballot could have been used.  Has anyone used an ATM lately?  The fucking arrows on the screen never point directly to any of the buttons – it’s confusing as hell!  Fuck choosing the president, I want to know if I’m taking out 10 bucks or 10,000 bucks!

-For the most part, winter break was its usual bore.  Shoveling snow was my most exciting activity.  I was thinking, remember in high school when you always complained that there was nothing to do in your town?  You didn’t have a car, you weren’t 21, you had a curfew, it fucking sucked.  So now I have a car, I am 21, I have no curfew and, guess what, there’s still nothing to fucking do.

-As I sat on my ass all break I made a few observations.  How come when you’re splitting the check at dinner there’s always someone who only has twenties?  Why do some people insist on taking the elevator only one floor?  Why does it take bands so long to set up?  Why don’t car stereos have a record button?  I could make the craziest mix tapes if I had that shit!  Does MTV play music videos anymore or just Real World reruns?  And finally, why the fuck does the guy at the counter never cut my sandwich all the way in half?  He always leaves that little piece attached so that you have to pull it apart and ruin the sandwich.  All I’m asking for is a clean cut here.

-Over break, I had a dentist appointment.  I fucking hate going to the dentist with a passion.  He’s always like, “You have some inflammation of your gum line, it looks a little irritated.”  Well it wouldn’t be like that if you didn’t keep fucking poking me with that metal hook!

-Pass/fail is really a fucked up system.  I took this class last semester pass/fail and I couldn’t do poorly no matter how much I tried.  I put as little effort as possible into the assignments, but I kept getting good grades.  I was like, fuck, why didn’t I just take this for a grade?  But it was too late to change it.  So I ended up spending all this time trying to do poorly, just so I wouldn’t feel bad about taking it pass/fail.  What kind of messed up shit is that?

-I need to vent a little bit here about a problem I feel is plaguing my school: the self-fulfilling prophecy of the so-called honors program.  So here’s how it works: before coming to school, a few kids get picked to be in the honors program based on their high school work.  How they do this at a school where every other kid was the valedictorian and got a 1500 on their SATs is beyond me.  Then, they require these kids to take a certain amount of “honors” classes that “regular” kids can’t take.  But, here’s the catch: the honors classes have a special curve – it’s something ridiculous like 75% As, 25% Bs, and nothing below that.  Therefore, all the honors kids have inflated GPAs because their curve is so fucking easy.  So now the school can go, hey, look at our honors kids, their GPAs are so much higher than the regular kids, you see, we knew they were special!  Bullshit!

-I was thinking about publishing a book of all my Ruminations once I graduate.  I figure if you put that shit at the checkout counter of Bed, Bath & Beyond, pre-froshes will snatch it up like hotcakes.  Of course I don’t know shit about putting together a book.  So if you know someone, or know someone who knows someone, and want to help me out, please send me an email!

-Over break I visited my sister at Dartmouth.  (Dartmouth is one of those fucked up trimester schools so they’re at school when everyone else is on break and vice versa.)  Dartmouth can be summed up very briefly.  It’s fucking beautiful, it’s fucking freezing, and there is absolutely nothing to do there except drink excessively.  This last point is demonstrated by their beer pong rules.  At normal schools, pong is typically played with two cups on either side of the table.  But at Dartmouth, they play with like twenty cups on each side, so now matter where you hit the ball, its hits a cup and you have to drink.  Needless to say, after one game I didn’t mind that it was zero degrees outside!

-So it’s time for Rush again at Penn.  Man I love Rush, its one of my favorite times of the year.  Over break, as I was sitting home watching TV because, of course, there’s nothing else to do, I was thinking that Rush is a little like one of those animal shows on the Discovery Channel.  Observe the freshman rushes.  The female species wears black pants as camouflage so as not to draw any extra attention to themselves.  But the sorority girls tag each of them with little stickers with their names on them so they can’t get away.  Whoever doesn’t show any individuality gets in.  With the male species, it’s a little different.  The frat guys observe from a distance as the freshmen are thrown into a frenzied environment of wings, beer, and strippers.  Whoever doesn’t piss anyone off gets in.  Talk about your Animal House!

-Speaking of Greek life, here’s the Quote of the Month.  Last semester, a kid in one of my classes raised his hand and asked the teacher if there were any old tests or papers from the class available to study from.  The professor replied, “Well, I don’t know, are you in fraternity?”  This was of course referencing the infamous “test banks” that many fraternities maintain, but I think I was the only one in the room who got the joke.

-I’ve noticed that my years of college have allowed me to fine-tune my vomit reflex.  Freshman year I used to take that one shot too many and just boot right on the spot.  Now I can hold it in until I can scope out a bathroom, aim strategically, and let it rip.  It’s a pretty handy skill.

-As a wise, old senior, I have some scheduling advice for those younger than me.  You know that really great class that you’ve always wanted to take but that is only offered at 9am?  Don’t take it, its not worth it, you’ll end up sleeping through every class anyway.  Similarly, are you thinking of scheduling all your classes early so that you’ll have the whole day free?  Guess how you’ll spend all that free time: napping.  Why do I have such views?  Because in college you only go to bed at 4am or when you’re wasted, whichever comes first.  I had this friend who needed to get to bed early one night because he had a test the next day, but he couldn’t fall asleep until he chugged three beers first.

-Most people at Penn go abroad first semester so by now all those kids have come home.  You can always tell which people went abroad and where they went because they feel the need to plaster their room with flags, posters, pictures, and other shit from where they went.  Yeah, that’s great buddy, but you’re back in America now and we don’t give a fuck.

-And, finally, when I was at Dartmouth, I was kind of taken aback that all there is to do there is hang out at fraternity houses and play pong.  I figured it must be pretty boring.  Then I was thinking, wait a minute, I go to school in Philadelphia, which has tons of clubs and bars and shit, and what do I do every night?  Hang out at my fraternity house and play pong.  Fuck me.