BYU Cavalcade of Traditions


You’ll be pleased to know that I am adjusting to life here at BYU pretty well. So far, I haven’t gotten the urge to buy an Uzi and kill any co-eds, which as you know is a pretty popular activity among college students. As long as I avoid getting too stressed-out, I think I can avoid having this problem, so I have decided not to attend any classes. This should reduce my stress rate enormously; as I recall, it worked fairly well in high school.

Really, I don’t even have time to go to class, because there are so many traditions to be perpetuated. I know this because during the orientation days, there was a thing we were supposed to go to (although I didn’t) called “Traditions Showcase.” Presumably, this was a thing where they were going to tell us what all the BYU traditions were. This seems rather extraneous to me, though. I mean, if something is a tradition, doesn’t that mean it’s something that generally goes on occurring, therefore making it unnecessary to tell us about it, since we’ll surely find out about it before long anyway, it being a tradition and all? I suspect the things they talked about at the Traditions Showcase were things that weren’t really traditions, but that they wanted to be traditions, so they hoped that if they told us they already were traditions, we would start perpetuating them. (“OK, kids, one of the long-standing traditions here at BYU is refraining from having food fights in the cafeteria!”)

One major tradition, apparently, is Growing Poison Ivy. From what I understand, there is a patch of it growing near one of the buildings, but no one has gotten rid of it, because the botany classes like to go study it. I take this to mean that if I do, at some point, decide to get an Uzi and start bumping off co-eds, no one will try to stop me, because the psychology classes may want to come have a look at me.

Another big tradition here is Hanging around the TV Room in the Basements of the Residence Halls 24 Hours a Day. In my residence hall, there’s a guy named Dan who is doing his darnedest to keep this tradition alive. I think he’s the Phantom of the Basement. Every time I go through the TV room, he’s in there, stretched out across the couch, watching whatever is on. Every single time. I don’t think he has any classes; if he does, he doesn’t go to them. Because he’s always watching TV.

Now, if he wants to watch TV all day, that’s his business, but there are two things about him that make him a horrible TV-viewing companion:

1. Whenever someone on TV says something funny, he will repeat the humorous statement aloud, as if to acknowledge that yes, he did in fact realize that it was funny. For instance, if David Letterman says, “Tonight’s show is the greatest show in the history of television,” Dan will say, “…the greatest show in the history of television!” and then kind of chuckle to himself.

2. He picks his nose and eats his boogers.

I know you don’t believe number two, but I swear it’s true. He’ll sit there, just a-pickin’ and a-munchin’, like a three-year-old, having the time of his life.

As I recall, the people of the Paris Opera House tried to get rid of the Phantom of the Opera by tracking him down to his underground lair. That won’t work in this case, because the Phantom of the Basement is always in his underground lair. That’s the problem. Maybe I’ll have to start a new tradition: Killing People Who Bug You. Now where did I put that Uzi catalogue…?

Some interesting editing happened to this column. For one thing, my editor refused to let me say that Dan picked his nose and ate his boogers, even though it was true. However, my editor left the introductory sentence as saying "there are two things..." -- even though, with his editing, I only mentioned one thing.

Also, all references to Uzis were omitted. I was allowed to say, at the beginning, that I hadn't gotten the urge to kill co-eds yet, but I couldn't say "with an Uzi." And in the last paragraph, the entire idea of "Killing People Who Bug You" was taken out. Was this leftover nervousness from the Uzi Incident sparked by this column? Maybe. After that Incident, I only tried one other Uzi reference (in this column), and I got away with it -- but it was pretty harmless. The one here, about killing co-eds (and perhaps Dan) was EXACTLY like the reference that caused problems 16 months earlier. Apparently, my editor still remembered...