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Most important life skills can be learned at parties

By H.G. Miller

H.G. MillerI am supposed to be studying right now.

You know, poring over notes from class, reviewing important concepts and solidifying the knowledge base that will someday make me a productive member of society.

Man, what a drag.

I´m sure glad this is America, and I´ve got the freedom to avoid such excruciating expenditures of time (can you tell I´m an English major?). Yes, I should be studying right now. However, I find myself paying $4 for a cheap plastic cup and filling it with even cheaper beer, only hoping that the brain cells I kill contain no information I need for my test on Friday.

Oh yeah, it´s party time, all right.

Why should I spend valuable hours of my life cramming my head with information that will be useless mere weeks from now when I could be spending quality time with 150 friends I never knew I had? It´s called networking. I´m learning skills that will help me make valuable connections later in life.

I mean, I don´t think businesses today really appreciate the amount of teamwork students learn during these recreational outings. There´s a large amount of group coordination that takes place when lifting somebody upside down above a beer keg.

As the evening moves on, the crowd begins to dispense into smaller focus groups. My mind sails across the sea of intoxication and I realize that I haven´t heard a single word the guy in front of me has said. Much like classroom lectures, I find myself occasionally nodding off while internally pondering life´s bigger questions.

Who was it that came up with that Tickle Me Elmo doll, anyway? Some sick-o sticks a vibrator in a doll and now he´s rich. How does that work out?

Lubricating my social skills even further, I soon decide to actively participate in other conversations.

“Look, the Campanile is a giant penis. I´m sorry, but there´s something wrong with you if you don´t see that.”

Silence from the crowd, and only the cheap, imitation techno-dance music can be heard as I realize that maybe I should try that “thinking before speaking” thing again.

I am shunned.

Eventually, somebody passes around a cigarette that isn´t really a cigarette, and I find myself a comfortable patch of concrete to collect my thoughts.

Sure, my speech is slurred and I can´t see straight, but I´m having fun, right? Instead of a boring evening at home, I´m interacting with my fellow students in a healthy social atmosphere. The lamp post seems to agree, and I´m happy.

After a while, I feel brave enough to move about the crowd. Motivation comes from a bag of pretzels that I´m sure whoever lives here won´t mind me sharing. Before long, I´m the best friend of anybody with a low tolerance.

Perhaps the most sobering moments occur during these conversations with highly intoxicated people. I, myself, am looking forward to unemployment after college, but I´d rather not find out that the guy who keeps saying he loves me is going to be a doctor someday.

I´m just waiting for the time I need my appendix taken out and the man with the knife says, “Hey, you were the guy with all the pretzels. Whew, I can hardly remember that night. In fact, there´s a lot about college I don´t remember. Ha, ha, ha.”

Checking my watch, I see that the police are due to show up any minute, and once again, valuable work skills are to be put on display. “Yes, sir, we´ll turn the music down. Oh, it´s my roommate´s birthday. We´re only accepting `donations.´”

Tired and weary, I finally end my evening by finding my ride home. The group of designated drivers is never difficult to spot. They´re the only ones speaking in complete sentences.

And so the evening has ended. Soon enough, school, work and my body´s internal defense system will all make me pay for neglecting my adult responsibilities. But that will happen in the morning. For now, I make a sandwich, see what movies are on late-night cable, and maybe think about sleeping.

Miller is a Hutchinson senior in journalism.



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