The All-Nighter blues: you, too, can lick ‘em

By Sean Noble

It’s once again that time in the semester when everybody should start thinking about final exams—your last chance to convince your teacher that although you were asleep in the third row all semester, you really were paying attention to class discussion, and can fill up multiple pages of blue books proving it.

It is the end of April, after all. And although all you really want to do is tone up your frisbee wrist, you’ve got to at least determine your final exam schedule to decide when the 24-hour frisbee tossing can start.

Today’s lesson, kiddies, is how to get through the trauma known as cramming. A subject all of us have firsthand experience with and might consider mundane, but which is as much a part of contemporary, college-age Americana as the Stroh’s “Alex the dog” commercials.

I’d like to concentrate today on ways of executing a successful All-Nighter, since we all know the generally recommended methods for studying. Quick review of those methods, for the simpleton:

Repetition is important. Read and reread everything aloud until you’re convinced you’re hearing hallucinogenic voices. Memorize lists of material by making sentences out of the initials of the words (example—Every Good Boy Demilitarizes Finland). Remember, studying for essay exams requires a slightly more coherent state of mind for studying; studying for an objective tests means you have only to chant a mantra of facts until your roommates shave their heads and don saffron robes.

OK, back to the All-Nighter. I decided the best way to inform you of the truly successful ways of staying awake all night for a test was to become a martyr for science. You know those blood alcohol content test exhibitions in which Officer Friendly regularly checks the reflexes of a willing subject who’s swilling beers? Well, two nights ago I paid off a friend of mine, Wolfgang, to check my own reflexes every two pots of coffee as I studied …

At 7 p.m. I sat down with my notebooks in front of the TV and told Wolfgang what a good student I was for being so concerned about my grades that I’d stay awake all night. At 11 p.m. Wolfie was urging me to start studying, but Monty Python came on. (You must watch Monty Python to get in the appropriate, absurdist state of mind which lends itself to late-night studying.)

By midnight I was studying with the aid of coffee and Vivarin, two traditional methods of pimping along your exhausted brain. After the first two coffee pots, I was starting to shake a little. No, that was the ceiling from the party in the apartment above me. Lucky stiffs.

I was on a roll by 2 a.m.—nine pots of coffee and 16 trips to the other pot. Wolfie told me I was becoming noticeably groggy, so I took out my eyelid-magnet contact lenses and ran a relay race with him down the hall and back.

At about 3:30 a.m. I was entering the crucial stage. Drastic measures necessary. Here are the final entries from my poorly scrawled account of the struggle with the Sandman:

*3:42—Slapped myself repeatedly in the face with a ruler to keep myself awake with the SMACKing sound. Yow!

*3:56—Turned up Black Sabbath on the headphones until my eyes went crossed.

*4:13—Held my breath and drank glass of water while holding my nose. (Whoops! That was for my hiccups, not for staying awake.)

*4:20—Made Wolfie drive to the phone booth outside 7-11 to call me every five minutes and wake me up. Pansy roommates got annoyed with this method.

*5:00 a.m.—Most drastic measure yet, the SUSTAIN recipe. Poured 24 ounces of Jolt, one dozen jalapeno peppers, the rest of my coffee and two loaves of Spam (diced) into large vat, stirred with a stick from the parking lot, and sat down in it. Better than Coast, the eye-opener.

Victory! The sun was up, and I sprinted all the way to my 9 a.m. class, wired on Mountain Dew. Teacher passed out the scantron forms, and I decided to (yawn) prop up my forehead on the desktop … zzzzzzzzzz. Here endeth the lesson.

At least I’m dreaming of the right test answers.