On Ratios and Ragers

Forget about problem sets: Charleton A. Lamb ’11 tackles a whole new set of problems.

After last night, my whole entryway knows my favorite color of panties!My resident dean is still calling me “Ralph” two years after that formal!’80s one-hit-wonder Rockwell once sang, “I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” Of course, everyone thinks that’s Michael Jackson’s song—no one’s watching Rockwell. But for those of us with some actual notoriety, the constant vigilance of the public can certainly be a problem. How can we have fun when our nightly shenanigans invariably turn into breakfast table gossip? Should you get up on that table? Should you make out with that girl who’s suddenly cute after 1 a.m.? For the first time ever, the answer to your questions is math.Remember when Alcohol EDU taught us, “Something drinking blah blah decision making”? They may have been on to something. We need a standardized metric to tell us if we’re making bad decisions when we’re not sober enough to think for ourselves. Ergo, I present to you the Anonymity-Sketchiness Ratio, easily remembered as the ASR. In order for your action to not be sketchy, its anonymity must be as high as possible relative to its sketchiness. For those of you still in Math Xa, anonymity goes in the numerator and sketchiness goes in the denominator. Higher numbers are good: it means your witnesses don’t know or care who you are. Lower numbers are bad: it’s like posting to your news feed—everyone will know.Assume “sketchiness” to equal awkward, bizarre, generally stupid, embarrassing, and all manner of party foul behavior. Let’s look at some examples.Taking off your shirt on the dance floor is pretty dumb (haven’t you seen As It Were?), but not exactly sketchy, so it’s pretty safe even if everyone knows you, like at your best friend’s birthday party. Going bottom-naked, however, is ill-advised unless you are at a concert out-of-state. The sketchy denominator of the Non-Sketchy ratio is just too high.Even a dance floor make out, DFMO for repeat offenders, can be a bad move depending on the attractiveness of your partner (victim?). But who hasn’t taken advantage of the aura of anonymity when visiting another school? Table dancing can be fine as long as it’s dark in the room; body shots are probably not unless it’s a masquerade.An important factor in this ratio is drunkenness, but let’s be real—it can work in one of two ways. You can be responsible and multiply sketchiness by how many drinks you’ve had, giving you a much lower Non-Sketchy ratio. Do this if you’ve woken up someplace where you don’t remember falling asleep more than once in the past month. Even if you won’t remember, tomorrow, someone else will. On the other hand, you can err on the side of fun and multiply anonymity by how many drinks you’ve had. Do this if you’re 20 years old and still a wallflower.Remember, this ratio is just a rule of thumb designed to keep you grounded when you can’t trust your first instinct about appropriate behavior. There are certain notable conditions under which calculating the Non-Sketchy ratio will not sufficiently lead to the best course of action. If you have one of those final club-hopping TFs, his presence at a party would make even a slurred sentence way too sketchy. Leave immediately. If you spot your crush across the room right as you begin to hop up on the keg to perform the gargoyle, do a leapfrog instead and stick to solo cups. At the other end of the spectrum, family weddings have an opposite effect. Take advantage of the opportunity to teach your grandmother how to jerk, even though these people undoubtedly know you very well.Now that you’re armed with knowledge of the Non-Sketch ratio, you can say goodbye to feeling too embarrassed to go to the dining hall the next morning. You can confidently drink away your good sense and judgment, as long as you can remember to take a quick count of how many people in the room recognize you. And if that fails, then just try to convince someone else to be stupid with you. One sketchy person will look foolish, but two sketchy people can look like they’re having a great time. But that’s next lesson.

After last night, my whole entryway knows my favorite color of panties!

My resident dean is still calling me “Ralph” two years after that formal!

’80s one-hit-wonder Rockwell once sang, “I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” Of course, everyone thinks that’s Michael Jackson’s song—no one’s watching Rockwell. But for those of us with some actual notoriety, the constant vigilance of the public can certainly be a problem. How can we have fun when our nightly shenanigans invariably turn into breakfast table gossip? Should you get up on that table? Should you make out with that girl who’s suddenly cute after 1 a.m.? For the first time ever, the answer to your questions is math.

Remember when Alcohol EDU taught us, “Something drinking blah blah decision making”? They may have been on to something. We need a standardized metric to tell us if we’re making bad decisions when we’re not sober enough to think for ourselves. Ergo, I present to you the Anonymity-Sketchiness Ratio, easily remembered as the ASR. In order for your action to not be sketchy, its anonymity must be as high as possible relative to its sketchiness. For those of you still in Math Xa, anonymity goes in the numerator and sketchiness goes in the denominator. Higher numbers are good: it means your witnesses don’t know or care who you are. Lower numbers are bad: it’s like posting to your news feed—everyone will know.

Assume “sketchiness” to equal awkward, bizarre, generally stupid, embarrassing, and all manner of party foul behavior. Let’s look at some examples.

Taking off your shirt on the dance floor is pretty dumb (haven’t you seen As It Were?), but not exactly sketchy, so it’s pretty safe even if everyone knows you, like at your best friend’s birthday party. Going bottom-naked, however, is ill-advised unless you are at a concert out-of-state. The sketchy denominator of the Non-Sketchy ratio is just too high.

Even a dance floor make out, DFMO for repeat offenders, can be a bad move depending on the attractiveness of your partner (victim?). But who hasn’t taken advantage of the aura of anonymity when visiting another school? Table dancing can be fine as long as it’s dark in the room; body shots are probably not unless it’s a masquerade.

An important factor in this ratio is drunkenness, but let’s be real—it can work in one of two ways. You can be responsible and multiply sketchiness by how many drinks you’ve had, giving you a much lower Non-Sketchy ratio. Do this if you’ve woken up someplace where you don’t remember falling asleep more than once in the past month. Even if you won’t remember, tomorrow, someone else will. On the other hand, you can err on the side of fun and multiply anonymity by how many drinks you’ve had. Do this if you’re 20 years old and still a wallflower.

Remember, this ratio is just a rule of thumb designed to keep you grounded when you can’t trust your first instinct about appropriate behavior. There are certain notable conditions under which calculating the Non-Sketchy ratio will not sufficiently lead to the best course of action. If you have one of those final club-hopping TFs, his presence at a party would make even a slurred sentence way too sketchy. Leave immediately. If you spot your crush across the room right as you begin to hop up on the keg to perform the gargoyle, do a leapfrog instead and stick to solo cups. At the other end of the spectrum, family weddings have an opposite effect. Take advantage of the opportunity to teach your grandmother how to jerk, even though these people undoubtedly know you very well.

Now that you’re armed with knowledge of the Non-Sketch ratio, you can say goodbye to feeling too embarrassed to go to the dining hall the next morning. You can confidently drink away your good sense and judgment, as long as you can remember to take a quick count of how many people in the room recognize you. And if that fails, then just try to convince someone else to be stupid with you. One sketchy person will look foolish, but two sketchy people can look like they’re having a great time. But that’s next lesson.

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