Last week, a bunch of Red Bull promoters, along with a few of the live-ins, unloaded almost 10,000 cans — that’s 2,150 pounds — of sugar-free energy drink onto my fraternity’s patio. After the Red Bull was settled, a frenzy of collection, transaction and trade ensued within the house. I emerged satisfied with a whole two cases to myself.
The promoters’ effort, I can only imagine, was some kind of marketing play to the UCSB fraternities, several of which were given similar gifts. Definitely not the worst idea in the world, seeing as frat houses are not known for the peaceful sleeping environments. In an apartment of six people it can be tough to find sleep … Most fraternities have more than 30 members living in-house.
Of course, Red Bull can’t really go wrong, advertising to the UCSB community in general. This is a place famous for splitting time between work and play, sometimes paying very little attention to the hour of night, even as it becomes day. To accommodate for the lack of sleep, caffeine and other stimulants — probably less healthy, but more likely to give you wings — have to play a role.
Returning to the scene last week, I felt like it was Christmas morning. Timing worked out such that the Red Bull arrived three days before a day-long interview requiring significant preparatory work in the wee hours of the morning. My plan, one which I executed enthusiastically on the day of the interview, was to wake up, shower and consume as much Red Bull as I could in preparation for the day ahead. Realizing that I would need additional calories (sugar-free Red Bull has but ten per can), I scavenged through my mini-fridge and found a bag of leftover pizza to use as the perfect complement.
The experiment in consumption was a wild success. Not only did I complete the interview day free of drowsiness, I was completely incapable of falling asleep for about 20 hours. After the day’s activities were done, I experienced a several-hour long, caffeine-driven clarity, which might have elicited serious medical concern had it gone on much longer. It has since occurred to me that perhaps I should use the Red Bull and Pizza Strategy only in emergency situations.
It is the perfect highlight of something I think we have all experienced in our time on campus. UCSB is the land of dueling extremes in health. Nearly all of us have, at one point or another, consumed something extremely ill-advised and yet most of us are in the best shape of our lives. I know I am. High school afforded the opportunity to play a varsity sport, but college affords the opportunity to hike, bike and walk as primary modes of transportation. There is less opportunity to snack out of boredom — there’s less boredom, in general. Our campus is known, not inaccurately, as a sun-kissed paradise of communion with nature.
Some of our habits, though, will have to be tossed aside at graduation. Spread across a lifetime, fairly typical I.V. lifestyles would probably be considered addictive and potentially dangerous. I have friends who do nothing but sleep and friends who pride themselves on receiving less sleep than is medically possible for a human. Some students, perhaps pressed by a razor-thin budget, subsist on a homogenous diet of Top Ramen. The thing is, these people are not uncommon — they are the norm.
Don’t get me wrong, I know we are blessed to live in an environment that encourages health the way Santa Barbara does. Obesity is pandemic in most of North America, but I find it striking how seldom I see an obese person on campus. Vim, vigor and chlamydia are the main infections you’ll find here and I believe the majority of them are treatable with antibiotics.
The student lifestyle here in Santa Barbara is an amazing thing. It’s a test of endurance and intelligence somewhere between the open market and the Marine Corps. The beautiful part of it, though, is that even if you fall off the track, Red Bull will give you the wings to get back on.
Ben Moss just ordered another 10,000 cans of Red Bull for his personal enjoyment.