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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Memory Lane

Published: March 31, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

Depending on how many foreign substances you ingested during your freshman year, such as food, water, your roommates food, your roommates water, your roommate, or several of the books assigned for some humanities course that you figured you could just memorize quicker by eating, taking a trip down memory lane for upper classmen such as myself can be anywhere from frightening to fictional, in that you dont really remember anything on account of lack of sleep.

Dont take my word for it. After all, Im not really telling you the truth. The truth is that I do have some form of memory of freshman year, but its spotty at best. What I do remember, though, the spots I mean, are as vivid and clear as a sunny day in which I am fumbling about, dizzy and in a state of delirium in my dorm room in Reitman basement because I havent slept in 36 hours due to factors such as a paper I was writing at 5:00 a.m., Minesweeper, and Grand Theft Auto Vice City. Usually, I was able to handle this disorientation rather well by assaulting my hallucinations rather than bothering actual existing people who might have otherwise called the police. Yet one night, the night I would like to relate here, I had no choice but to involve real people who, thank God, had the presence of mind NOT to call the police after realizing that I wasnt in my right mind, or rather, in any mind at all. The story that follows, mind you, is absolutely true.

It begins in Fall, 2002, in a class called American Judaism, taught by one Jonathan Sarna. The class had to do with everything American and Jewish, such as apple kugel, Alan Grynszpan, and Louis Farrakhan. (OK, hes not Jewish, but we all know he wishes he was.) One day late in the fall, around when the temperature starts to drop to negative a lot and the sun starts setting at 3:00 p.m. and Floridians like myself start going crazy in the cold and dark, Professor Sarna assigned a paper.

As a first semester freshman, I was just starting to get used to the fact that I was no longer going to sleep at a normal hour, such as 2 in the morning. For various procrasinatorial, Minesweepering, and Playstational reasons, I had been setting my date with the subconscious world at around 3:00 a.m. most nights. As a result, being the good Jew I was, I would still have to rise at 7:30 to get to morning services on time, and then go back to my room, collapse, and wake up at 3:00 p.m. just in time to watch the sunset. This would set my destiny for yet another 3:00 a.m. bedtime since Id been sleeping most of the day anyway.

By the time Professor Sarna assigned that paper, I had been getting tired of being nocturnal and not having seen the sun in over three weeks. On the same token, the day I actually started writing it was around 11:00 p.m. the night before it was due, and I ended up finishing at 5:00 a.m. It was that day that I decided to wrest back my normal, pre-college-freshman sleep schedule. I was going to do this by staying up all day and not taking a nap. At the time I didnt understand the danger of such a plan.
The first thing I decided to do to keep awake was to play Minesweeper. My roommate John Tash and I would play it for God knows how many hours during the day in a valiant attempt to sweep 200 mines in a maximum field. We never won, at least not that year, though there were several games where Jon Tash would get down to one mine and have to click one of two boxes to end the game. There was a wrong click and certain death in one box, and sweet sweet victory and that smiley face with sunglasses on in the other. We just didnt know which one held our destiny.

Those nights wed hold each other tightly, whimpering and scared, hearts beating faster than an electric egg-white fluffer, cold sweat dripping down our backs, for we vowed that once one of us finally beat the stupid sadomasochistic game wed never play it again for the rest of our lives. We were a team, Jon Tash and I, sweeping the world safe of mines, and nothing was going to stop us. Then Jon Tash would click the wrong box and wed scream like elephants undergoing unnecessary oral surgery and wake the entire hall up at 3:00 a.m.

Minesweeper also had the effect of honing our listening skills. Wed know when the other was sweeping from the incessant clicking of the mouse. Wed know it in our sleep, we were so well trained. So when I started sweeping at 5:00 a.m. that morning, Jon Tashs sweep-sensitive ears picked up on it, and he murmured in a semi-conscious haze, Rafilet me know when you get down to 10.

I never did that morning. When my classes finally finished at 3:00 p.m. that day, I went back to my room and started playing Grand Theft Auto Vice City while shivering in a semi-narcoleptic fog. This game involved a lot of guns and violence and ripping people out of their vehicles by pushing the triangle button. After I had been saturated with guns and violence, I decided to switch to the relatively more serene and productive activity of pacing around campus for the next 90 minutes until dinner. I ate, and paced around campus twice more until 8:00 p.m. when I finally went to bed. It was then that the trouble started.

I had a dream that someone from Vice City put a loaded gun in my bed. So I got up, and walked over to the laundry room to tell anyone I could that there was a loaded gun in my bed and that they should call the police. I didnt want to touch it. The police should handle it, not me. So I told two people in the laundry room to call the police to take care of the gun, and went back to bed, careful not to disturb the gun.
I woke up some time later with extremely detailed memories of a dream I had of going to the laundry room and telling two people that there was a gun in my bed.

Just then something told me that these memories were a little too detailed for a dream. The next thing I said was the following, and it was to Jon Tash.

Jon! JON WAKE UP! Dont ask any questions, just do what I ask. Go to Vinnys room NOW and tell him that I dont have a gun in my bed and DONT CALL THE POLICE! JUST GO!

Luckily Vinny hadnt called the police. Later I asked him why, and he said that he thought I was just being crazy. And thank God for that.