Hey, college kid: Watch your step

Kate Bigam

In a society of acronym-mania and over-abbreviation, sometimes the words of the world can appear as jumbled as a can of alphabet soup. With terms like NAACP, SCUBA, AIDS, USS and FUBAR, all our third-grade spelling knowledge goes to waste.

But now for an abbreviation you actually want to learn – especially because you already know all about it.

I’m talking about UDI, short for “Unknown Drunken Injuries.” I learned the term while imbibing at Ohio University, notorious for being ranked No. 2 party school in the nation. Those Bobcats know their alcohol, and as a result, they also know their UDIs.

It’s the abbreviated term for those pesky – and painful – injuries that arise after a night of gulping too many pitchers at Ray’s or an overdose of shots at Glory Days. You wake up bleary-eyed and cotton-mouthed to find some wound, be it large or small, that seems to have appeared out of nowhere.

UDIs leave you grasping for straws of hazy memories, wondering, “How the (bleep!) did this happen?!”

If you’ve ever woken up with a scraped knee, a busted lip or a black eye, you know what I’m talking about. And if you’re one of the unluckier lushes, you may have gone even further, with UDIs in the more serious form of broken arms, sprained ankles and bruised ribs.

But the worst part about UDIs isn’t even the pain – it’s the painful explanations that come with them. It’s your employer asking, “What the heck happened to your face?” when you show up with a scabby chin, and it’s your mom wondering, “What’s my kid doing in college, anyway?” when you come home wrapped in ACE bandages.

As a wizened near-graduate, I, my young friends, speak from experience.

Sophomore year, I fell down a set of (cement) stairs and woke up with a cracked coccyx. Aside from being the single most painful injury I’ve ever experienced, I also had to sit on a doughnut-shaped pillow for weeks. Is it more humbling to admit your drunken misdeeds or to let people assume you have hemorrhoids? You decide – I still can’t.

A friend of mine recently experienced a doozy of a UDI while walking home from a local bar. Despite being escorted home by a gentlemanly friend, even he couldn’t save her from nose-diving into a (cement) curb, showering the sidewalk in blood and breaking her two front teeth – two days before she began an internship. Try explaining that.

An old adage says, “The truth shall set you free,” but I’m inclined to believe that’s not always the case with UDIs. It’s humiliating, not freeing, to admit that you biffed on the pavement after a regrettable night of whirlwind, Lohan-esque partying.

I know, I know – “Stop drinking so much, Kate!”

And I have. I am, after all, starting a “real job” (sayonara, Stater!) come fall, and I will no longer have the luxury of 11 a.m. classes or errand-free weekends.

But it’s you I’m worried about – you, with the poor excuses and the full bottle of tequila; you, with the college-kid lifestyle and the untapped keg.

Yes – you, with your breakable bones and your bleedable skin.

Watch your step, friends. Your tailbones and your two front teeth will thank you later.

Forum Editor Kate Bigam is a senior magazine journalism major grateful for her healed tailbone. Contact her at [email protected].