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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

FARBER: Streaking your way to better grades

Published: September 23, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

If any of you have ever gotten on stage during the camp-wide talent show in a giant T-shirt with your legs through the sleeves and your head through the neck hole thereby making it impossible for you to stand erect in order to imitate what you thought was a kangaroo trying to entertain a completely bewildered group of 2,500 high-schoolers looking at you like a catatonic looks at a crazed hippopotamus about to maul him and wondering what in Gods name youre trying to do, then you know exactly what its like to be publicly embarrassed in the summer of 7th grade at sleep-away camp in front of 2,500 people.

And if you dont, then Im sorry. You have no reason to live. Of course, Im joking, as I am prone to do. You definitely have a reason to live. Its probably just not a very good one.

Anyway, if you have ever been publicly embarrassed before, then you know that your brain never ever lets you forget one tiny fleck of a smudge of a detail about the occasion, and indeed, enjoys just randomly bringing it up again and again and again, many times during very important occasions such as a first date, a second date, a third date, a divorce, your funeral, and everything that follows. Your brain LOVES these memories, loves to take them out and frolic with them in the park on a sunny day, loves to zoom in and out on them like a digital video camera in slow-motion replay just so you can catch those little details you might have missed due to the cold sweat dripping into your now-burning eye sockets at the time of the actual embarrassment.

My brain will never let me forget that day, the day of the kangaroo walk, no matter how many times I smash my head into the wall of my dorm room or how many brain-altering drugs I ingest, inject, snort, or stick down my ear canal. I may have nothing but cerebro-spinal fluid left in my skull, but that little nugget of memory is burned forever within the fluid. I may not have a photographic memory in general, but when it comes to this, I remember EVERYTHING. And theres nothing I can do about it.

Usually when my brain decides to bring up the kangaroo walk, I fall over in actual physical pain and curl up into what resembles a hard plastic ball covered in a thin candy shell. I then play the whole memory through about seven times until I lose consciousness and wake up without my shoes. This is why I hate homeless people.

But kangaroo walks are not the only thing that my cerebro-spinal fluid loves to dredge up at random. Theres also the time I got into my very first car accident, on my driving test, how the big black man with dreadlocks came out of his now-dented Cadillac convertible and ever so gently, delicately, and threateningly tapped his fingernail on my car window four times, how the driving instructor who had three moles on her face and a cleft chin RAN out of the car and how my father, upon hearing a bunch of Floridian hicks in the DMV office laughing and screaming, HEY! SOME STUPID KID JUST HIT A CAR ON HIS TEST AND HES ABOUT TO GET HIS SPINE READJUSTED BY JOE! himself screamed, RAFI! and came to my aid.

If any of you have ever seen a 57 140lb white-haired Jewish man with a yarmulke running outside to save his 53 115lb son with a yarmulke from the 68 320lb man without a yarmulke but with dreadlocks, its very entertaining. Unless of course you are about to be administered a spinal readjustment by Joe Dreadlocks Certaindeathman. Then its hilariously frightening. And I remember it all in painfully clear detail. Sometimes when my brain picks out this one, I emit a sound resembling a beached whale dying of salmonella poisoning from expired krill.

A responsible reader like you would ask, Rafi, how have you survived such agony for so long? The obvious answer would be drugs. But the other answer would be that I have learned to utilize my public embarrassments in order to help Brandeis students and the entire university, to turn my personal pain into something useful for colleges and college students everywhere.

What I have discovered, after replaying these memories in my head for the past decade or more, is that I remember them much better and much more accurately than I remember anything else, including things I need to remember for tests, such as the atomic weight of Beryllium, or how to factor out the indefinite integral of a quadriplegic equation on the xy axis.

So as the school year begins, I spew forth priceless knowledge for the future test-takers among us. The strategy I have devised for those that struggle with exams is the following. When you study, instead of just taking out your book and reading it, devise for yourself a public embarrassment. Go to Usdan, take off all your clothes, and then read your book, out loud, in a British accent in an operatic voice with a wig on. I guarantee you, cross my lung and hope to breathe, that you will remember every single word of what you read in such terrifyingly accurate and you will do so disgustingly well on all of your tests that your professors will surely think youre cheating and throw you out on South Street for academic integrity deficiency.

Which reminds me, I have just recently read an article concerning Brandeis overall drop in the US News Ratings. Just think of how much ground we can and will recover when everyone starts earning straight As on everything! And when the US News people come to Usdan and see everyone chanting their Orgo books nude and streaking through campus reciting historical dates and events, their eyes are bound to shine with pride. Or horror, but its all the same.

Minor things will have to be changed, including the Brandeis sealA Public Embarrassment, Even Unto Its Innermost Parts, as well as our advertising slogansBrandeis: Where Academic Nudity Began.
Then again, instead of turning my pain into your advantage, maybe I can just drain the cerebro-spinal fluid out of my head through my left temple and forget everything. If anyone wants to lend me a power drill, my extension is 94513.

But I know what youre thinking. And yes, you are absolutely right. The Academic Nudists would be a great name for a band.