College is generally a time for seeking out new experiences, not backing away from them. This is your moment, your time to experiment with drugs and alcohol and sex and, God help you, personae. (Whatever else you do, don't start walking around town with a snake around your neck or a ferret perched on your shoulder, okay?)
There are, however, some cocktails and sex acts and forms of cocaine that should never be attempted. So just in case you're as stupid as we think you are—that is, just as stupid as we were when we were 18-year-old college freshmen—here are a few things you should never, ever do.
Don't get a facial tattoo.
Arms (classic), legs (smaller is better), stomach (fine, until the inevitable loss of tautness), lower back (clichéd and slutty, but whatever), feet (ungodly pain)—these are suitable spots on your body for tattoos. Your face, on the other hand, must remain a tat-free zone. Remember: Passion for inky expression is fleeting; tattoos, unfortunately, are not. Stick to places easily disguised during job interviews, family photo sessions, and dinners with future in-laws. On the fucking-up-your-future-prospects scale, a tattoo on your mug ranks well above a little amateur porn kicking around the internet. BRADLEY STEINBACHER
Don't score acid on the Ave.
If you wanted to taste a magnificent wine from a first-growth château in France, you wouldn't buy a bottle of Mad Dog at 7-Eleven, right? And if you want to trip like the psychedelic pioneers in San Francisco, don't buy the bunk acid on the Ave, capisce? You might as well take an old $20 bill, cut it up into little squares, and put them on your tongue. If you actually want to get high on LSD, obtain it from a trustworthy friend.
And while we're on the subject of acid and the Ave, don't take acid and go to the Ave, no matter how good the idea sounds at the time. Nobody wants to be that guy, falling all over himself to avoid running into people who aren't there. If you're going to get seriously twisted in the city, stay home and listen to Herbie Hancock. DOMINIC HOLDEN
Don't eat the blackberries.
See those blackberry bushes on the side of the road, in people's yards, and pretty much everywhere else? If you're not from around here, you are probably super tempted to eat the vine-fresh fruit. Bad idea. Those fruits are full of bugs, and if they are within 10 feet of any road, they are covered in a thick coat of exhaust and soot. That goes double for streets with bus lines. You don't want that stuff in your stomach. Stay away. ARI SPOOL
Don't get a credit card.
Take it from an idiot who knows first hand what she's talking about: Taking on credit-card debt is the single stupidest decision you can make as a college freshman. Sure, it seems like free money now—or free bongs or porn or whatever—but credit-card companies wouldn't exist without gullible kids like, maybe, you. Washington State's usury laws are almost nonexistent, meaning that if you miss even a single payment, you're looking at interest rates up around 30 percent. Even if you think you won't get sucked in, the odds are against you: Last year, credit-card debt in the U.S. topped $872 billion, or $2,898 for every woman, man, and child in the country. Don't be one of them. Get a prepaid card instead. ERICA C. BARNETT
Don't go to Club Z.
When you are young and gay and finally living on your own, funny questions occur to you late at night, and one of them is: What's it like inside a bathhouse? Here is what it is like: It is a parlor of early specters. A ghost house, in other words, except the ghosts are all fucking each other and they're not ghosts—not just yet. Most of them are overweight and uglier than your dad. They will grab at your flesh and try to eat it. The few young ones are like French fries in a crowd of pigeons. They're also riddled with STDs because, well, imagine the attention they inspire. By all means, do whatever you want. But take my word for it: You don't want this. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Don't don't walk.
Even one of our former mayors thinks Seattle's hyper-law-abiding crosswalk behavior is weird: "It was 4 o'clock," Charles Royer wrote in a famous 1998 New York Times editorial. "It was dark, the wind was howling, and the rain was coming sideways." On the "wet, miserable street," a lone figure waited on the corner, "with no car in sight." This figure was "wrapped in rain gear, leaning into the wind, waiting for the sign to change to 'WALK.'"
Don't be that person. If you have any hopes of ever making it in some big global metropolis, or of improving this minor metropolis, you will need to learn to jaywalk. Why? Consider what Royer had come to believe after his years of leading this city: "The only thing separating the gentle souls of Seattle from the not-so-gentle souls of New York City is our willingness to follow traffic rules when we cross the street." If that's true, then get to jaywalking. It's your civic duty. ELI SANDERS
Don't swim in Green Lake.
Green Lake is full of algae—that's why it's green. The algae grow very quickly, especially when geese and ducks poop in the lake, which they do constantly. You know what else the ducks poop into the lake? Trematode parasites! Trematodes won't kill you, but they do cause swimmer's itch, which will give you a rash for a week. You can't get laid if you have a rash. So Rollerblade at Green Lake, swim in Lake Washington, then shower and hang your head in shame after either. ARI SPOOL
Don't illegally download music.
How much is that Fergie song really worth to you? The University of Washington announced a policy change this year: It'll narc you out to the record industry if its lawyers come calling. If you get caught illegally downloading music, the record industry will send a letter to UW, which will forward the letter to you, letting you know you'll have 20 days to decide whether you want to settle a $3,000 lawsuit or fight—and lose—in court. How can you avoid getting sued? Don't download music on easily trackable p2p services (use sites like Albumbase instead) or take advantage of the free and readily available Wi-Fi at coffee shops around the city. Or steal the old-fashioned way, by burning your friends' CDs. JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE
Hello up there, you young, happy, probably intoxicated person! I bet the view's pretty good up there at the edge of that roof/balcony/windowsill. Or up in that tree. Or on those monkey bars. Or some other giddy, dangerous place. I know you feel good and strong and full of life. I know you're feeling reckless and fun and all you want to do is jump or dangle yourself over the edge or perform some other life-threatening stunt.
Before you do, let me tell you what happened to me when I was young, happy, and probably intoxicated, feeling reckless and fun: I jumped out of a window, bounced off the roof of a school bus (who knew they were so springy?), and landed in the parking lot with two broken ribs and a shattered heel. Four months and two surgeries later, I still wasn't walking right. Here's what happened to a guy I know: He fell backward while climbing a brick wall and spent over a year getting his body back. Here's what happened to somebody else I know: She jumped over a bonfire, banged her leg on a fiery log, had a nasty burn wound through which she could look at her own shinbone. So take a breath. Step back from the edge. There are some risks worth taking. This isn't one of them. BRENDAN KILEY
Don't talk to Scientologists or LaRouchies, not even as a joke.
Someday during your collegiate career, you'll find yourself drunk or high or furious at your parents or in an existential crisis or just in the middle of a rambunctious game of Truth or Dare and, suddenly, chatting up LaRouchies or stepping into a Scientology tent or inviting Mormon missionaries into your dorm room seems like a dandy idea. Don't do it. Cults are tenacious beasts that shouldn't be toyed with even fleetingly, and a single engaged conversation with a LaRouchie/Scientologist/Mormon can leave you hounded by freaks forever. (If you're legitimately attracted to any of these groups, cut out the middleman and head directly to a mental hospital.) DAVID SCHMADER
Don't dress for comfort.
Guess what? People don't wear clothing to be comfortable. People wear clothing to be attractive. If comfort was our only goal as a species, we'd all be wandering around in velour sacks, idly masturbating, and eating fistfuls of pudding. So don't wear your pajamas around campus. Sweatpants suggest that you have a load in your drawers. Crocs are for special-ed students who can't lace their goddamned shoes. And if your clothes have holes in them, either learn to sew or throw them away. It's a basic sign of respect for the species that you not dress like a sexless hobo. PAUL CONSTANT
Don't have a long-distance relationship.
You're still with your high-school sweetheart? How positively darling! Everyone acts so charmed that you met your lifelong soul mate before you could drive, but really they're just hoping that you have the sense to fuck around before your snookums does so they don't have to pick up the shattered pieces of your heart for three years. PAUL CONSTANT
Don't sleep with actors.
At first glance, actors seem like ideal mates: attractive, charismatic, and full of creative energy. As soon as you swap bodily fluids with a thespian, though, the truth comes out. Actors—male and female—are neurotic, needy sociopaths who either fear commitment or cling so tightly that they could pulverize bone. Your full-time job will be ego masseuse, and Narcissus will abandon you at the drop of a hat the minute a producer or director takes an interest. They're not happy until their personal lives are as melodramatic, hammy, and painful to watch as one of their plays. PAUL CONSTANT
Don't go to Africa and then come back to me and talk all condescending.
These fucking people are the worst. This one girl I knew came back from Africa and then told us that we just couldn't understand, maaaan, about the suffering, because we haven't lived it, you know? Please don't do that. On a related note, don't study abroad in England and come back with an English accent like you just picked it up by accident, and don't go to Spain and come back calling yourself "Moh-nee-kah" and correcting people all the time. Your name is Monica, you condescending douchebag. LINDY WEST
Don't fail to make friends.
In college, I spent two years living in tiny rooms with randomly assigned strangers. The first stranger was a shaky anorexic model who ate nothing but canned tuna mixed with ketchup, shared a twin bed with her shaky anorexic mother whenever she came to visit, and pulverized large sections of our asbestos ceiling trying to hang up her totally psychedelic black-light posters. The second stranger was from Bangladesh ("it's pronounced BONG-gladesh"), smoked two packs of Newports a day, collected Absolut Vodka ads, and was always watching A League of Their Own. Make your own friends in college. Don't trust the administration to do this important job for you. LINDY WEST