Sunday, December 04, 2005


On Thursday night, I attended a formal hall at one of our neighboring graduate colleges. The meal was delectable-but-stuffy (e.g., cameras were banned from the meal because a single flash might cause the oil paintings on the walls to fade and crumble into microscopic piles of dust before our very eyes).

Halfway through, one of my friends was pennied.

Pennied? What?

Let's face it: an 800 year-old college is going to have considerably more time to invent creative drinking games than your average US institution. It's no surprise, then, that the Oxbridge drinking game of choice seems a little strange. In short, pennying involves plopping a penny into the cup of your ill-fated neighbor, who must consume said alcohol in one fell swoop. Pennying often leads to boat racing, which is sort of like pennying but involves entire tables of students drink-racing each other. Technically, pennying's probably been banned at every college in both universities -- but when has that ever stopped anyone? I've learned to eat with one hand in the vicinity of my glass, just in case I need to block an errant coin as it flies towards the cup.

One of its unfortunate caveats is that you can also be pennied if you're eating a suitably liquid-like food. Now, I wouldn't call my friend's chocolate-and-cream cake "liquid," but apparently it counted. So, as the college dean stood up at the head table to read his long, rambling speech, a red-faced girl buried her face in a pile of cake and started slurping.

It's times like this when I ask myself, "What would Stephen Hawking do?" Read through that link to its footnotes and you might understand why.

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