By Tim Drugan-Eppich
College is your first shot at the real world. It is the kiddie pool of life; you get to test out the water but drowning isn’t yet a major threat. But just like a kiddie pool in the summer, college is filled with an incredible number of people, and lots of poop.
Yes sirs and ma’ams, there are a lot of people wandering around. And with that, we are all constantly in each other’s personal space. This comes with some benefits. Benefits that include having enough people around to ensure a sexy lady is somewhere close by, overhearing angry couples fighting about a snide remark said by the in-laws, and witnessing how some people completely miss social norms we have all agreed upon in order to operate with this level of crowdedness. This lack of awareness is what I am talking about with my advice.
We all need to have some consideration for each other in such close quarters, and one of my favorite methods is the “keep it to yourself” method. The idea behind this is do whatever you want, but keep it to yourself. Try not to bother anyone.
Smoking is a good way to address this. Somehow it is still a popular pastime on campus. We know it kills you. We’re not sure if eating chocolate in the shower causes cancer, but smoking is pretty much settled. For some reason however, students still do it. That is great. It’s a free country. While my guilty pleasure is napping in the sun, you are free to have yours be slowly taking your own life. Cheers. A conflict of interest only arises when you involve others. I can’t bother anyone with a nap unless it’s taken loudly in the front row of a class – as I have found out numerous times. But smoking…smoking can bother other people. So if you’re going to smoke, just don’t blow it in my face, or anyone’s face, or anything’s face. See? Keep it to yourself.
Here’s another example. I had a class with a crazy guy who decided his mission for the year was to help me find Jesus. No matter how many times I told him I actively work to reserving a place in hell, he insisted on continuing the discussion. “Don’t you want to spend eternity with your family?” was his go-to question. I responded by reminding him he hadn’t met my mother. I’m sure you can see how this fits with the theme of this column, but I’ll spell it out. Religion is fine, but keep it to yourself. Worship all you like, snack on crackers and pretend they’re a person, wear funny hats, and don’t eat while the sun is out. But the moment you bring it out of your own personal life and into mine, or politics, or shoot a cartoonist, or try to get women not to dress so suggestively, you’re bothering people. And especially me with that last one.
Perhaps the most prevalent pastime in college is drinking. I’m not a big drinker. The main reason is because when I was in high school I drank a bit too much on some occasions and made a fool out of myself. While most people become more easy going in conversation when it is lubed by a rich bourbon, I become even more painfully blunt. I recall asking a girl what could have possibly made her think I was the person to talk about boyfriend problems with. Yep, I’m a charmer. Also, I already have a bladder the size of a thimble, so more diuretics in my diet isn’t a necessity. But booze is a cherished beverage of many a college student, and I think that is fantastic. What better way to culminate a week of education than by killing all of those brain cells on the weekend? Here’s the catch, if someone walks out their door and onto your half digested burrito, or has to figure out how you could have missed the toilet pooping, then you’re not keeping it to yourself. Don’t be dumb, and if you’re gonna throw up, do it all over yourself.
Now language is tricky with this “keep to yourself” idea, because I don’t keep it to myself. And based on some people’s reaction to my writing in the past, I am obviously bothering them. How do I get around this? Easy, I have no problem being a hypocrite. I’m kidding, of course. I say what needs to be said. Sometimes that is the exact opposite of what others are requesting. If you are telling me what words I can and can’t use, then I’m going to go out of my way to use them. Will that bother the people who didn’t want me to? I sure hope so. Which makes all of this a lot more complicated. Because by that logic a smoker might go out of their way to blow smoke in my eyes just to spite me…touche.
It seems sometimes bothering people isn’t such a bad idea. If politicians are corrupt, they deserve a knock on the door, and a smart rap on the face. If someone is trying to outlaw words, they need to be questioned. And if someone is pooping in the middle of the street, they need to be interrupted. (But if someone is peeing in public, don’t bother them, because it’s probably me, tiny bladder and all…)
As with most things, this issue is full of grey area. You can’t think in absolutes unless you’re a terrible president. So you’ve got to make your own judgements; after all, you’re in college now. There are times to speak up, but try not to be too sensitive. Don’t complain about stuff that isn’t bad because then other good stuff will leave with it, like letting a missed joke ruin a comedian. But if someone farts on the elevator you’re in, tell them next time they better clench those buttcheeks. Unless it’s me, because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna hold a fart for a freshman. Welcome to college.
Tim Drugan-Eppich is a senior majoring in English.