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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Give into peer pressure and give blood

Published: October 14, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

October 20th is just around the corner, and I dont know about you, but to me, only one thing comes to mind: The Waltham Blood Drive. The severely anemic among us, myself included, all know that the blood drive is the most exciting thing since Al Gore, hands down. Those full-blooded losers I know that are reading this article right now are probably ripe with protest. Nothing is more exciting than Al Gore! they shout, but in vain. There are of course two reasons why they have all of their blood and we dont. The first is that we have figured out the best way to lose weight while at the same time getting all you can eat at a snack table free of charge, and they havent. The second is that theyre bloody stupid. Pun intended.

For the new people around, allow me to explain exactly how a blood drive at Brandeis works. The first thing that happens is that they have you read a bunch of papers about why, if youve slept with anything over the past twenty-seven years, you are automatically ineligible to give blood. College students may feel especially slighted by this, but it is advisable not to take it personally. Waltham only wants virgin blood.

After reading these papers about ineligibility of non-virgins, they guide you into a room filled with empty blood-taking apparatuses, empty computer stations where they check your background, a staff of about thirty-two Red Cross volunteers all schmoozing it up at the snack tables, and taking center stage about a hundred and twenty bored-to-death college students pretending to be virgins, hoping to God that theyll lose some blood today watching The Breakfast Club for the 19th time in a row on that TV they plunk in front of the waiting blob of people.

It is your job to take a number, sit down, and join the blob of false virgins watching The Breakfast Club while subconsciously hating the snacking schmoozing Red Cross staff and taking it out on Molly Ringwald for being such a goody-two-shoes. In general, the number you are given is on average only 5 away from the current number being called. The only problem is that there are two colors of number, and if you have white, theyll only call pink. If you manage to cheat the system and have both pink and white, theyll just skip your number. This serves the function of separating the boys from the men, the real virgins from the fakers. The former stick it out, diehard, until the end when they finally get to join the entire Red Cross staff at the snack tables.

If you are lucky enough to have your number AND color called, you will make it to stage 2. Here, you will sit at an empty computer station where you will wait for another 15 minutes for a staff member to mosey out from the snack tables like a turtle with a severe learning disability peeking out of a deformed shell. When he or she or it finally arrives, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire with questions that all have to do with what you have slept with in the past, your leanings on the AIDS virus, and a random question about your liver. The following is an example of what you might see.

Q1. Have you ever slept with someone who has the AIDS virus?
Q2. Have you ever slept WITH the AIDS virus?
Q3. If you could, would you?
Q4. Why or why not?
Q5. Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?
Q6. If so, do you have AIDS?
Q7. UmmHow is your liver doing today?
Q8. A guy walks into a bar. He says, I have AIDS. The bartender says, OK, well, then give me some of your blood. He says, OK, have fun. Comment. Be sure to include a fun fact about yourself and the AIDS virus.
Once this questionnaire is completed, your blood pressure and heart rate are taken, followed by your blood iron content, though this is just a cover for a virginity test. The final thing that is done in the booth before stage 3, and I am NOT making this up, is the sticker procedure. In the sticker procedure, you are supposed to choose one of two stickers in complete confidence. One of the stickers has a bar code that registers use my blood in the computer. The other has a bar code that registers to not use your blood. The first time they asked me to do this, I asked them why anyone would ask the Red Cross not to use their already-given blood. They responded, in all seriousness, Peer pressure.

In todays world, you can never underestimate the power of peer pressure. One minute youre a dork because you didnt feel like snorting some household chemical. The next minute you have no friends because you werent allowed to give blood due to your sexual escapades 27 years ago. I wouldnt doubt it the peer pressure factor, even though I think the whole sticker procedure is complete crap.

Anyway, if you survive for long enough, you are transplanted right back into the blob of desperate bleeding-hopefuls, only now you have a different colored number. This time its blue. It is very unwise to opt out at this point for the simple reason that if your entire blood supply has not yet evaporated over the hours you have been sitting in Sherman Function Hall, theyre going to want itall of itbecause everyone else is as dry as seventy-eight-year-old desiccated Jamaican beef jerky.

I know all this because I donated blood not a year ago, so its all fresh in my memory, especially what happened at the end. I remember it was a bright sunny day in Sherman Function Hall, The Breakfast Club was murmuring in the background, and I made it all the way to the snack tables. Munching down on some animal crackers, I began to notice that I was hyperventilating. No matter how much I breathed, I wasnt getting enough air. That was annoying, so I told the Red Cross staff guy at my table.

He didnt seem to mind at all;

that is, until I said, You have about 8 seconds before I lose consciousness, so get somebody over here quick.

HA HA, Rafi, you crazy joker you, he replied.

*THUD*, I answered back.

And no, I am not making that up.

So what was I, a man who, judging by the results, obviously cant handle a blood drive, doing there in the first place? I have just two words for you. Peer pressure.