Crashing An Orgo Final - 4/21/10
This is the story of how a college buddy and mine and I once crashed an organic chemistry final. No, not a frat party, or a sorrority car-wash fundrasier... but an organic chemistry final. Yes, I was strange back then, too.


I was a film major in college. On top of that, I've always hated chemistry, once cheated my way through a horrible chemistry class in high school, and still nearly failed it. So Organic Chemistry is like kryptonite to me. As for an Organic Chemistry in Northwestern's Tech Programů well, that's like an ice cube flying into a furnace in Hell.

Nonetheless, a fellow non-Chemer by the name of Peter Johnson (I have to give Peter credit because this was his idea), drunkenly decided one night during finals week that we were going to crash an Orgo final at 8am the next morning. At the time I figured Peter would be hungover and forget about it, but there he was on my doorstep at 7:45 the next morning, and off we went, slogging through Chicago snow to the Tech building on North campus.

When we walked into the auditorium, about a hundred pre-meds and engineers were already in their seats, nervously clicking their mechanical pencils in anticipation of what was rumored to be one of the hardest finals on campus. Shrugging, Peter and I moved to opposite sides of the room to avoid arousing suspicion, and sat down as the TAs passed out the tests.

As I mentioned, Chemistry is not exactly my strong suit. I don't really even know how to balance a chemical equation, except that it somehow involves coefficients. So this test was like a foreign language to me. I didn't even know what format the answers were supposed to be in. Did they want a number? An element name? Some kind of picture? The capital of Sweden? I did the best I could. I listed long numbers and put the units as "green bananas". I wrote down as many synonyms for the verb "to vomit" as I could think of. I answered questions in French. For one question about the decay of a hydrogen atom, I drew a six-frame cartoon panel of a hydrogen particle turning into the Hindenberg and then blowing up. Across the room, Peter was doing the same; he answered a question about carbon molecule division by drawing a picture of a two-headed turtle, each head with a thought-bubble, one saying "I'm hungry" and the other saying "I'm not."

Things went on this way for about fifty minutes of the ninety-minute test, at which point we decided we'd been there long enough. Simultaneously, and to the shock of about a hundred frantically-scribbling pre-meds and engineers, Peter and I got up, walked to the front of the room, handed in our tests, looked at each other as if "Hey man, are you done too?" then proceeded to high-five each other and run yelling out the emergency exit. According to later accounts, the room stared in horror after us for a moment (because who finishes an Orgo final forty minutes early?), until the teacher sprinted up to the front, looked at our tests, and announced "Don't worry, everybody! These aren't real tests!" The class erupted into laughter, as we made our escape through the bowels of Tech and back to our beds.

Although a few of our engineering friends recognized us, the Chemistry department never discovered the identity of the two mystery crashers, for we had put our names down as Romancio SirTasty Maxibillion and Nutty McDinglebutters. But legend has it that Romancio and Nutty received two of the lowest scores ever to be turned in on an Orgo final.

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