You can often find some pretty odd classes if you browse through UCSB’s course catalog. This quarter is no exception. The esteemed Dept. of Speech and Hearing Sciences is offering a class called Introduction to Stuttering. I’m not quite sure what this course entails, but it sounds pretty interesting. I imagine myself sitting in a classroom, taking furious notes while some grossly maladapted chap butchers syllable after painful syllable for my learning pleasure. M-m-maybe I’m just a sadist, but it sure sounds appetizing.
Stuttering is only the s-s-start. UCSB also has classes about barbarians, robots, dinosaurs and cavemen. There’s even a film class dedicated to the study of pornography. If we’re really lucky, the school might combine some of the aforementioned disciplines and offer a course in dinosaur pornography. The name of this class? Jurassic Pork.
I’m sorry, that was a tasteless joke. I assure you that my mind wouldn’t be in the gutter if it weren’t for the foul influence of my ill-minded peers. You see, there was this one guy that lived on my hall freshman year. His name was Fred. He was a good guy, but he had some perverted tendencies.
One day I was walking into the dormitory bathroom, when Fred stopped me and said, “Hey dude. You gotta come check this out.” He then informed me that he had recently acquired a caveman porn video, and that I had better come watch it. The idea of Neanderthals knocking boots didn’t really appeal to me, so I declined Fred’s offer. The incident still managed to leave deep psychological scars. Now, whenever someone mentions porn and pre-historic man, my mind goes straight to the toilet.
I’m clearly not cut out for caveman coursework, but I wouldn’t mind adding a few cool classes to my schedule. History of Jazz sounds neat. Religious Approaches to Death might be fun. Heck, I could even try a few quarters of Latin. I’d like to indulge in some of these exciting academic opportunities, but I’m afraid I don’t have the time. I’m simply too busy with prerequisites.
I’m a scientist. Instead of learning about foreign languages, I get to languish with foreign TAs in dreadfully dull chemistry labs. I get to sit there on my sad stool, watching the clock tick away as my life drips down the drain like so many drops from a fractional distillation tube. This is what happens when you choose a major that requires five quarters of chemistry lab. A little piece of your soul dies.
I know it sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. Trying to learn chemistry by performing basic experiments is amazingly ineffective and painful. It’s sort of like trying to learn playwriting by hand-copying Oedipus Rex. It takes some effort and creates a big mess, but it doesn’t do you a whole lot of good.
Naturally, I’ve tried to find ways to escape the mental anguish of the chem lab prison. Sometimes, I use daydreams as an escape. I dream of fun, made-up majors like industrial swashbuckling and international piracy sciences. I picture myself pursuing a degree in one of these heart-pounding disciplines, pilfering treasure chests and plundering galleons. When these fantasies fail to ease my pain, I try other methods – like cooking.
One time, in the middle of a lab session, Pervert Fred and I roasted some hot dogs over a Bunsen burner. We didn’t have ketchup or mustard handy, so we used a few class chemicals as substitute condiments. The Bunsen dogs tasted pretty good for the first few bites. Then my eyes started burning and my face turned green. My concerned TA mumbled something about “benzene poisoning,” but I couldn’t quite understand her gibberish. She clearly hadn’t taken Introduction to Stuttering. It didn’t matter. I was already screwed.
That bad benzene inflicted widespread brain damage. These days, I’m borderline Cro-Magnon. I speak in guttural grunts and wear crude Velcro shoes. I don’t have a whole lot to offer the Homo sapien world, but I did manage to learn one very important lesson: Choose your major wisely.
Aside from his mind, Daily Nexus columnist Nick Pasto also goes straight to the toilet after a two-hour session in his Wine Tasting class.