Top 10 Indiana University Traditions – #8 & #7

by Kent Sterling

IU is known for so many things, at least to those who went there.  That little place near Maxwell Hall where co-eds are supposed to have their first kiss to ensure a happy life together (I should remember the name, but a small edifice that that launched so many doomed relationships shouldn’t be celebrated), Hinkle’s Hamburgers (the place everyone knows, but where no one eats), and getting hosed at TIS (buying used books at an insane mark-up with money gotten by selling plasma at Sera-Tek, now BioLife.  By the way, if I blew the spelling of Sera-Tek, it’s because I was down a pint every time I left the place.)

Of course, Bloomington is known for a lot of good cultural and educational things too.  Those are what they show the parents during the tour when prospective students are in high school.  “Hey, ‘Evita’ will be at the auditorium next month, and Thomas Wolfe with be speaking here again this fall,” the guide shares.  The tickets for “Evita are $64 each, and that’s beer money for a month.  “Don’t cry for me, Kilroy’s and Nick’s!”  And Tom Wolfe is speaking on Blue Brew Night.  A student has to have priorities.

There are other great traditions.  This week, we are taking a look at the ten best.

#8 – Never Seeing a Woman Again After They Mention Meeting Her Mom & Dad

There is no better way to lose a college guy than to say, “I can’t wait for you to meet my Mom and Dad.”  There is no phrase in the English language that kills a great buzz than that.  Laying in a dorm room bed with a semi-hot freshman goes from very comfortable to how the hell do I get out of here in an instant when the hottie mentions the parents.  The first time, the guy is caught totally off guard, stares at her in terror, and half screams, “Huh?”  Over time, the response become less overtly negative, but it still elicits the same longterm response – run silent, run deep.  Total radio silence.  Your roommate answers the phone for the next month.  You think about switching rooms.  You use the peep-hole like the demon child of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy is cruising McNutt.

By the third time this meet Mom and Dad thing happens, you are accustomed to it, and know that being honest is the best way to avoid changing your phone number and altering every part of your daily routine, but you still lie.”Yeah, that will be great.  Can’t wait.  Hey, I’ve got a breakfast meeting with my psych professor.  Gotta run.  See you soon,” you yell over your shoulder as you bolt from her room still pulling up your pants.  She says something you can barely hear as you run toward the elevator.  “Okay!”, you yell back knowing that she’s one-in-35,000 students, and the odds of you seeing her again are remote because you will never set foot in her dorm again, and she’s pledging a sorority while you have just decided that the Greek system is not for you because this is the third future Greek with whom you have cuddled in three weeks, and they are all going Greek.

#7 – Taking a Test with No Preparation Just to See How Well You Would Do

There are countless stories about some guy who is so brilliant that he can roll out of bed without attending a single class or cracking a book, and still ace a test in a subject about which he knows nothing.  Of course, this sounds ridiculous and likely is total bullshit, but if there is a guy that Mote knows at Michigan who is roommates with the best friend of a guy at Syracuse who never studies for anything, parties all the time, and is carrying a 3.8 in pre-med, then maybe I’m that smart too.  It would be a shame if I didn’t test that possibility.  After all, if I’m some kind of savant, but never find out, what a waste of intellect and time that would be.

Of course, when you are that smart, you know it, but that doesn’t occur to you before you invest the lack of effort in missing every class, and never cracking open the book.  You show up for the test energized by the challenge that awaits in Ballantine 013.  In 1:15 minutes, the test will be over regardless, and life can go back to normal.  Because the class has 135 people in it, the prof has no idea who you are, and as you open the test, it occurs to you that a better plan might have been to pay someone who took this class last semester to do his best rather than trust yourself to have miraculously inferred statistical information.  After all, how can someone, no matter how brilliant come to know specific information without ever hearing or reading it.

Your eyes scan the tests around you, but the handwriting is indecipherable in the blue books.  The first question asks me to explain how “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair is instrumental in enacting legislation that created the Food and Drug Administration, and unionizing workers.  Uh-oh.  What the hell is “The Jungle”, and who is Upton Sinclair?  Okay, restate the question in the first sentence of the essay, and pray for enlightenment that is destined not to come.  Look at your neighbor’s blue book again.  She has a question about the assassination of President McKinley.  Shit, I know everything about the two shots fired by Polish anarchist Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, New York at the Pan American Exposition!

For the next 12 years, there are periodic nightmares about that day that I was totally unprepared.  The guy who magically knew everything doesn’t exist.  He is a myth like the yeti or sasquatch.

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