The Seventh C

April, 1991:

Jeff was sprawled across his bed on the far side of our twelve by sixteen foot dorm room, with papers strewn everywhere as he studied for an upcoming exam.

I never studied for anything. As a communications major, I never had to. It wasn't just that the classes were easy. No. My college career was an equal mix of luck, talent, and not giving a damn. I might fail a test miserably, but I'd excel at any project that came my way, and I'd do it in spectacular fashion: I'd come up with an idea the night before a project was due and whip the whole thing together overnight, much to the dismay of my roommate, who actually prioritized his studies.

Jeff let out a ghastly sneeze as his papers scattered. "Awe fuck." He'd been muttering 'C' words under his breath for the last five minutes or so.

"Command attention.
Cater to the heart and the head.
Call to action.
Clarify the message.
Communicate a benefit.
Create trust..."

As he'd finish saying the sixth 'C' of communication, I'd follow it up with "and a CONDOM, to be safe."

"Ha ha ha - oh FUCK fuck fuck!!! Don't DO that!" he'd say, knowing very well he'd remember condom long before whatever the seventh C really was.

"It's 'Convey a consistent message!' Rob!"

"I know... but mine is funny."

Just then, the door flew open. More of Jeff's papers scattered as the wind tunnel that was our dorm's hallway funneled an unusually warm spring breeze into our room. In the doorway stood Joe. "We're playing Frisbee on the lawn - you guys in?"

"Fuck fuck FUCK!" said Jeff, realizing his papers were a lost cause. "Yeah, might as well."

The entire concept of studying communication was a lost cause as far as I was concerned. Nowhere within Jeff's list of C's was the word 'care'. We spend so much time learning how to manipulate the message we want to deliver that we fail to consider whether the recipient of said message will even care. I had the same speech class as Jeff, but at a different time. I wasn't studying my seven C's because, frankly, I didn't care.

"I guess I'm coming too" I said, reaching to turn off the stereo. Silence filled the room as the three of us walked out.

* * * * *

The first thing college taught me was the art of waiting in line.

There was a line for everything in college. If we wanted to go to dinner at the university cafeteria, there was a line to have our bar-coded student IDs swiped, and another line to get actual food. At the beginning of a term, there would be a line to get into the university bookstore, and another at the end of the term to sell books that were no longer needed - as if they ever really were needed in the first place. All too often, they weren't.

My favorite line was the one for scheduling classes. What? Am I HIGH? Not at all...

The line for scheduling classes at the beginning of a new term would snake around the basement of a faceless, nameless administration building. It looked like a refugee camp down there, with the stench of near-death looming everywhere. We were all so melodramatic back them.

I'd get in line with the list of classes I wanted to take, broken down into 'yes', 'maybe', 'no', and 'fuck that!' I'd lean in towards the row of students at the front of the line who were finally scheduling their classes with some faceless, nameless assistant to an assistant who'd spend the rest of the semester in a cubicle. This was that person's one chance to get even with society.

Don't fuck with someone who has nothing to lose.

"CS423 is full? AAARRRGGH!!! What else is open? Course numbers? Hang on, let me find... HUH??? Come back when I'm ready? Listen lady, I just wai... OK, listen JUDY... I've already... Whadaya mean 'NEXT'? GET BACK IN LINE?!!!??? AAAAAUUUGH!!!!!!"

An hour or so later: "Hi Judy, I'm Rob..."

It's a lot easier for someone to care about your problems when you care about theirs.

* * * * *

I'd just returned from scheduling classes for the fall semester when the door to our dorm room swung open behind me with a mighty whoosh and a slap.

"Fuck fuck FUCKITY fuck!" Jeff had a knack for making an entrance, and for his rapid-fire use of the word 'fuck' - often together.

"Well hello to you too Jeff."

"The seven c's Rob... I knew she'd put it on the final, and oh yeah, there it was. THERRRRE IT WAS!!! I made it through six, and then nothing. NOTHING. Know what I wrote down?"

"A condom?"

"Well, I couldn't leave it blank... God I hope she's got a sense of humor."

Maybe the seventh c should have been a CATCH PHRASE because, really, that's what people remember.

::::: | Tuesday, Dec 21 2004 at 11:25 AM
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Rob Salzman said:

Very nice post. Evokes a warm fuzzy memory of my college days.

Thanks. I'll certainly return to read more.

::::: | December 21, 2004 12:42 PM

(won't be published)


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