There are two types of Yale student: those who skip class, and those who wish they could muster the willpower to skip class. This is, of course, because class is interminably dull and pointless. In their innermost heart, every student is aware of this, even if they cannot bring themselves to admit it. Unfortunately, most Yale students fall into the latter category, because either a) they mistakenly believe that everyone else enjoys class and, lest they be deemed inferior to their peers, attend in order to feign the expected manifestation of intellectual curiosity, or b) they have been so browbeaten into success that they are crippled by an irrational fear of “missing something important.”
In practical terms, this equates to a large number of students who are terminally bored and unable to do anything about it. But luckily for them, there are many entertaining things to be done while spinelessly wasting one’s youth in lecture. Here is but a sampling:
Draw lewd images as largely and as explicitly as possible without attracting your neighbor’s attention. See how far you can get into a two-page spread of the person next to you desperately mounting a sexual caricature of the professor, without your neighbor shifting uncomfortably. If you’d really like to push it, you can breathe heavily or utter small “don’t look this way, because I’m drawing porn” coughs.
Repeatedly extend your arm fully toward the ceiling, and then, when the professor calls on you, insist you were “just stretching.” If questions are asked, refer to a chronic problem with your latisimus dorsus. Later, proceed to hop up and down in your seat, waving your arm to and fro while issuing “ooh, ooh, me” noises. If the professor calls on you this time, state that you “forgot what you were going to say.”
See how many items of clothing you can remove, without using your hands. Of course, shoes and socks are easy, but can you get the pants off? Extra special credit for those who can remove their shirts using only a series of rhythmic stomach contractions.
Laugh very loudly at a part of the professor’s lecture that is obviously not a joke, and then after several seconds of hearty guffaw, whisper to your neighbor something like, “What did he say?”
Slowly rip pages out of your spiral notebook, as though you are trying your best to be quiet about it. Keep going until you have removed every page, and then place them all in a three-ring binder. Next, remove a pile of loose-leaf paper from your backpack, and stab a series of small holes along one side of it, threading it into the empty cover of your spiral notebook.
Spill a can of beans all over the floor, and then, as the beans cascade throughout the aisle, snickeringly ask those around you “who spilled the beans?” Of course, this requires that you prepare in advance by bringing a large can of beans to class, but honestly, what worthwhile diversion doesn’t?
Try to engage those around you in friendly thumb-war contests. If anyone agrees to participate, refuse to release their hand for several minutes, perhaps mumbling something about “the political quagmire of thumb-Iraq.”
Painstakingly inch your leg closer and closer to that of the person next to you. Press onward, even as they instinctively recoil from the prospect of your thigh caressing their own. Once your leg is sweetly nestling with theirs, emit a loud sigh and pretend to concentrate on lecture as though nothing is amiss.
Take all of your notes using crayons or finger paint. This works especially well if your notes consist of the aforementioned erotic illustrative pursuits.
Bring a cardboard box to the first day of class, on the side of which you have written “the Learning Helmet.” Wear this on your head. Make sure that the box has no apertures out of which you could ostensibly see. Throughout lecture, hum softly and rattle the box from side to side with your neck.
Indubitably, there are many other things that can alleviate the crushing tedium of college courses; obstreperous ringtones, overly shaken sodas, and backpacks filled with newly purchased trout have not even been mentioned. Nevertheless, as you sit in your “Intrinsic Norms of Antediluvian Near Eastern Scullery” class, pretending that you are indeed getting $41,000 worth of education, you will now have a foundation on which to make the best of your namby-pamby compunction to attend.
Michael Rae-Grant is a shy, timid lad who grew up in the south of Wales and spent summers bounding joyously through his uncle’s wheat fields and scheming up pranks.