Tuesday, April 13, 2010

And playing the role of Madame Buzzkill

Last night a colleague of mine and yours truly were invited to give a talk to 170 sorority girls at Wake Forest University. Apparently the Greek system at Wake is in some hot water for getting a little out of hand at this year's initiation party. So our job was to go talk some sense into these girls- by which I mean tell them the facts about alcohol use and how it affects your brain (and self-esteem the following morning!). Being that I still sometimes see myself as a PYT, I wanted to come off as smart and authoritative, with a dash of coolness. Yet, I think I just came off as a buzzkill.

As we were waiting outside the doors of the secret sorority meeting taking place on the other side, we started to chat up the two young lads in Wake Forest polos also waiting outside of the doors. We proceeded to find out that they were there to speak to the girls also, and that they were going to step inside and give a little spiel right before us. They said that they just needed a few minutes to tell the girls that if they came to the baseball games then free beer would be provided to all the senior girls. Huh, interesting tactic. Bad timing for us though, this offer of free beer coming before our talk on the badness of alcohol.

*Sidenote: the boys then asked us what we were there to talk about. Feeling a bit silly saying that we were there to try and persuade these girls to drink less, we told them we were there to talk about "science". I love to tell people that my job is science. I think it conjures up all sorts of weird images in their head involving bubbling beakers and people with white lab coats and a crazy look in their eyes. Just  to clarify, this is NOT the type of scientist I am. Instead if you imagined me sitting in a windowless office all day staring at a computer screen then you have the exact image of what type of scientist I am.*

So we did our job, gave the girls the low down on how many drinks lead to an intoxicated state, how many beers they're chugging when they play games like century club, and how their brains deteriorate as they chug-a-lug. Pretty much acting the part of Madame Buzzkill, squashing their enthusiasm for daytime drunkness at all the baseball games. While we were diligent in consulting the scientific literature to find the most compelling results as to why they shouldn't be drinking so much, I think all we really needed to do was inform them of the calories they were consuming during a game of century club (over 800 calories!). Then we probably would have captured their attention (and in advertently promoted skipping meals to save calories for alcohol binges!). Oh well ladies, go ahead and drink your gin and tonica- who needs a frontal cortex anyways?

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