From the Issue: Should You Tap That?

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Keep your eyes open for the September issue of The Blue & White, coming soon to campus. Until then, Bwog will honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine by posting highlights of the upcoming issue online. Among the treats to look forward to: a litany of bizarre and outdated freshman hazing rituals, a conversation with a luminary on DIY education, and a (half-fictional) account of romance in the John Jay dining hall.

In “At Two Swords’ Length” two writers take opposing sides of a truly contentious collegiate issue and duke it out with their sheer wits. This month, contributors Helen Bao and Allie Curry face off on a classic collegiate conundrum.

There is no one on this campus who looks like that.

Illustration by Manuel Cordero



This calls for more jungle juice. “I’LL BE BACK,” I shout with a jerk of the hand and the most aggressively smiley smile I can muster. The crowd surrounding the bar jiggles like so much John Jay tapioca; textureless, impenetrable. And I thought Gulati’s first “Principles” section was supposed to be scary. At least I’m rollin’ deep like old school, half-expecting someone to offer me a Lunchables trade for vodka as the fifteen of us stare petrified around the playground.

Come on, pull yourself together Allie, there is absolutely no reason to be scared. I’ve spent the summer boning up on my critical theory (and my queer theory, my Marxist theory… uh, et cetera et cetera) and I find this an appropriate moment to ask “WWJ(B)D”— What Would Judith (Butler) Do? Somewhere in this dank, crowded “lounge,” an intricate network of pre-post-gender-normative dudes, there is someone special who can summon the strength to reject Natty Light, wave the bartender down, and grab a girl a drink. If we’ll agree that it’s all a performance, he and I could begin to deconstruct the ever-present subconscious behavior patterns that govern us and all our brethren. And eventually get to bonin’.

Selection is key, too. I guess. Helen’s been blathering on about the dual evolutionary and financial imperatives implicit in any series of bad decisions undertaken between the hours of—wait! Is that him?! Him being the Orientation Leader (gulp!)—my secret text crush who’s been ignoring ALL the other girls in my orientation group. It is, and he’s approaching with a pair of bright red Dixies to boot.

I turn to give Helen the thumbs up—and reassure her I’m completely aware of the power asymmetry behind any gendered OL/freshperson interaction— but she’s nowhere to be seen. Helen pretends she’s too mature for this sort of party, but she also claims she’s already read the first twelve books of the Iliad. Last I saw her she was pretty toasted, and plus, there’s no way she got through twelve books of anything with that sort of iPhone addiction.

Somewhere between this brownstone and the next, and the next and the next (as if I would know the Greek alphabet), I stop thinking about the theory of being drunk. Even with Helen yacking about Gulati—what a tool! When I ask her where we are, she loosens her iron grip only to shrug (“Sigma Sigma Blah Blah Blah”), and my OL keeps pawing at me—and I’ve got a touch of the spins and… I may have read Oedipus Rex way back in high school, but I do remember what irony is. Point being, when you’re drinking jungle juice, I don’t see any issue in going native.

That’s funny, he seemed taller at the last dumb dry event he made me promise to come to and this so-called “juice” tasted a bit less like candy just a second ago. My few conversational inroads (most memorably, “DO YOU LIVE HERE?” and “I’M SORRY, I FORGOT YOUR NAME” and “DID YOU READ FREEDOM?”) stall out and we resolve to—well, it starts as what some cultures might consider dancing and what other cultures definitely consider an act worth three to five at Leavenworth. You understand: time is actually a super culturally relative concept and some cultures orient (like… orientation! ha!) themselves spatially, and I couldn’t really tell you how much linear, temporal time passes with our mouths in very close spatial proximity, but I swear as we help each other past the bouncer to the street that that space, too, is a construct. How else to explain that his bed, all the way across campus, is in fact closer and “an easier walk” than my own sweet double down the block?

—   Allie Curry

Okay, maybe this one is more believable.

Illustration by Manuel Cordero


Economics is the study of the distribution of scarce resources. Resources very scarce here include: good lighting, deodorant, antiperspirant, combination deodorant-antiperspirant, and the three feet of radial distance that Americans normally require between themselves and others. Lucky for me I’m rolling ten deep with the rest of John Jay 8, thus minimizing exposure to others. Allie, I admit I’m gripping your hand too hard. But your human shield is necessary for my College Party Plan. This way, I keep distraction to a minimum, and as long as we don’t let go of each other, we will fend off strangers and have fun—this is fun, right?

Ugh. Talk about negative externality. That’s the economist’s term for INCONSIDERATE. I can’t believe these two hooligans are grinding up so close to me. Okay, so they might be engaging in a trade that yields them both a net positive return, but I’m not enjoying this one bit. This must be a case of “Market Inefficiency” Chapter Three (I’ve read ahead) in my Econ 101 book. Government regulation can’t help me right now. Obviously Apple can. I pull out my phone.

“Wjat r u tryrng to say?” Not helpful, Allie. Tuck iPhone back into hypoallergenic case, case into (fully washable) purse. Allie’s an English major and she’s a nice girl, but sometimes I feel that we speak two different languages. I’m going to have to talk to her about diversifying her intellectual portfolio outside of the New Yorker so she can keep up with my lingo. And it’s not like Freakonomics is that hard to understand. Far cry from Benjamin Graham’s Value Investing, at least. She should like reading, right? Until then, here is a metaphor for your qualitative, Dante-obsessed brain: THIS IS LIKE THE SECOND CIRCLE OF HELL.

Anyway, I’ve calculated three drinks to be the quantity such that the marginal utility of the last drink is maximized (law of diminishing marginal return!), so no, Monsieur Fratboy, I do not want your Jungle Juice. For the layman economist, that means I’m at the perfect place to gorge happily on Koronets and not boot it.

Time to snack, and yet Allie keeps wandering further away. She’s making eyes at that average-looking guy three feet away. Fine, pursue him, the shakiest of investments, but that judgmental face you’re giving me is totally unwarranted. My super-sized pizza carries but a fraction of the beer calories you’ve had to consume in order to convince yourself tonight that tomorrow you won’t wake up. Don’t be delusional! Let me lay it out for you: you want to maximize ROI (that’s Return On Investment) and minimize risk. For your average risk-averse individual, Koronets is obviously the smart choice.

And also, consumption is good for the economy! While we’re nominally no longer in a recession, unemployment in America is still at a high 10 percent (a conservative estimate, that!). When I buy a slice of pizza, I increase consumption, increase demand, increase GDP, and with more production, more jobs are created, and there is more growth. Fret no more, Ben Bernanke, I’ve personally solved our economic crisis. Send the Nobel to my Lerner mailbox.

Where did that girl go? I go on my tiptoes, see her head floating towards the door and—surprise, surprise—another head is close behind. Opportunity cost, my dear Allie.

—   Helen Bao



  1. Anonymous  

    Is Helen Bao really as much of a douchebag as she seems in this article

  2. Anonymous  

    this is clever

  3. Usually  

    it's annoying to read anything written by a first-year, but these weren't bad--overwritten, but amusingly so.

    -CC '12

  4. Abbee  

    "Rolling ten deep with the rest of John Jay 8" = story of my freshman year. Fleight love 4eva. <3

  5. i actually loled  

    "My super-sized pizza carries but a fraction of the beer calories you’ve had to consume in order to convince yourself tonight that tomorrow you won’t wake up."

    too effin real

  6. senior wisdom

    slap dat you neva know when you're going to get anotha chance

  7. Brendan

    Oh man, this made my night. You two are the best!

  8. Nate  

    I hope real people don't think like this in their own heads... hahah good read, though.

  9. Anonymous

    I really don't understand this...

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