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Out of Focus: Cheap Living

by Chris Veith, humorist

I’m broke. I’ll be honest with you. I’ve got less than $40 to my name, no job, and I owe a lot of people a lot of money. Like many students, I’ve been forced to take out large loans to pay for tuition, housing, beer, food, and more beer. Actually, I stocked up on beer. And since I won’t be getting my refund check until later next month, if it weren’t for HPU’s food bank I might be going hungry. But at least I won’t be thirsty!

Being that this is my fourth year of college, I’ve become quite good at living off the fat of the land—finding free food, and taking advantage of it. Here are some ideas for others in this situation.

Check your local newspapers for class and family reunions, and the odd bar mitzvah. When it comes to pretending to be someone you’re not, you may feel a twinge of remorse, but if you want access to all that free food, put your conscience out of mind. Remember the words of the famed mathematician Charles Darwin, who once said E=MC2 proves only those with full bellies survive. (See what education can do for you?)

Class reunions are really easy to infiltrate. Think back to your high school years, only a few years ago for some of you. If it was more than a decade ago, you’ll have an easy time. Still, it’s always easier to look older than it is to look younger! Use this to your advantage, and you should have no problem fitting in with a five or 10-year reunion.

Be sure to dress the part. Suggested outfits include corduroy pants, a plaid button-up shirt, and a pocket protector. To keep at a distance anyone who might be too interested in you, don’t shower for a few days before the event.

Family reunions can be trickier. I suggest first scoping the food table to see if it is worth the effort. If it is, here’s a technique that has worked well for me in the past: pose as Maryanne’s new boyfriend/girlfriend. Remember, every family has a Maryanne, and if they don’t, then their food probably isn’t worth eating anyway.

After being accepted as the new love interest, try to keep the conversation to a minimum. This can be achieved in many ways, including the classic “Nose Picker” routine, or the ever-popular “Wedgie Picker” maneuver.

If these old standbys fail you, and you are actually forced to hold a conversation, pretend to be hard of hearing. When the family members start raising their voices, give them a stern look and tell them there’s no need for shouting, and walk away.

One final bit of family reunion advice – you can’t talk if you’re eating! So get to that food table as quickly as possible.

So what happens when you meet Maryanne? That, my friends, is not a situation you wish to encounter. Especially if Maryanne is a big-boned rugby captain with an oddly sloped brow. You’ll want to watch out for the stiff right hook. Believe me. I know.

A word to the wise: impersonators should steer clear of the free alcohol! (Gasp!) Did I really just say that? Yes, reader, I most certainly did.

While this goes against every proud tradition and logical thought, I must ask you to abide by this rule. As you are already struggling to impersonate a classmate or family member or significant other, you do NOT need to add alcohol to the mix. If, all of a sudden, you start slipping and saying things about Maryanne’s ancestry or the high school football captain’s GPA, then it’s either a beating you won’t soon forget, or a short ride to the pokey. This country’s judicial system frowns upon impersonation, even when survival is at stake.

I hope that this, in a small way, assists you through the month(s) until you receive your refund checks. If impersonation isn’t your thing, try the HPU Food Bank. It’s confidential. Just call the University chaplain: 544-9394.

And remember that while the few weeks waiting for your check may be bleak, the thousands of dollars coming your way will buy one heck of a party!

I expect to be invited!


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