I’d like to have a conversation with the sick genius behind the “Countdown to Graduation” clock.

Remember those awful backwards-running millennium counters hanging in bars during 1999 – the ones that ticked off every single nanosecond until 2000 in flashing red digital display? The millennium came and went – all these scrolling digital clocks were rendered suddenly useless. Actually, Miller Brewing Company funded a sociological experiment which concluded that the experience of watching the moments of your life literally fall away before your eyes as you sit in a bar only makes you want to drink more. Those signs sold beer.

Someone did the math: “Hmmmm, let’s see … what demographic group feels a sense of constant anxiety and is prone to the consumption of large quantities of alcohol?” Ahhhh, yes, college seniors.

It was easy enough to reset the countdowns to May 26. Hence my existential nightmare – a face-to-face encounter with the flashing red digital clock telling me just how many seconds remain of my time at Georgetown. This certainly cannot be necessary considering how we fear graduation and are terrified by these scrolling numbers that actualize and visualize what we always knew without knowing – that life is slipping by.

Perhaps it is that mental image, moments dropping away, that has prompted almost a quarter of the senior class to belly up to the bar and enlist in the 99 Days Club at The Tombs. It has been known as the 99 Days Club since its emergence as the brainchild of the graduating class of 1999. The next year the class of 2000 went 100 days; this year it is 101 for 2001. Get it? God help the class of 2050. The club has now evolved into a full-blown senior ritual.

Here’s how “99 Days” works. Exactly 101 days before graduation, members of the class of 2001 signed up at The Tombs through the senior class committee. For the rest of their career at Georgetown University, every day until commencement seniors will, at least once a day, come into the bar, have a drink and get their name checked off on the clipboard. If you make it, your name goes up in brass on the plaque mounted on the wall.

This year, almost 400 seniors signed up. Subtract about 100 for those who scrawled their names down in a moment of excitement and then promptly forgot. This means that about 300 members of the class of 2001 are participating. Let’s say, at bare minimum, these seniors have a Coke every time they come in. That’s 300 students at $2 per day, assuming they drop some change for the server. For 101 days that comes to about $60,000, minimum, of income for the Clyde’s Restaurant Group, generated by this senior class event.

It is astonishing, in an event sponsored and overseen by the Class of 2001, that not a fraction of this $60,000 will go toward charity or any cause remotely connected to the university – an unfortunate oversight on the part of the senior class committee and The Tombs.

Granted, a lot of these seniors would be at The Tombs more nights than not anyway. However, the whole tradition places The Tombs at the clearly defined center of weekly social life for the Class of 2001, which is fine, but a definite incentive for The Tombs to make some sort of a gesture or donation beyond a plaque.

Besides the satisfaction of making a real, lasting impact on the liver, having an indelible “TOMBS” stamp emblazoned across the right hands of hundreds of seniors for three months and making a cold cash deposit into the already well-lined pockets of the Clyde family, what could drive us to participate in this ritual? A chance to be memorialized, a little slice of immortality – this is what The Tombs offers members of the senior class?

It would be fantastic if the senior class banded together and threw that $60,000 at something else – if not at charity than at least at something that could really impact our last three months on the Hilltop – another way to access immortality. Give me $50, and I’ll etch your name anywhere you want.

Instead of pouring more cash into The Tombs, think of the possibilities – hot tubs on Copley, one amazing party, whatever – the moments will roll by us regardless, let’s at least spend them well. We could kick the whole thing off with a giant bonfire in the middle of Copley – I hear those digital display clocks can really flame.

Ramble On appears regularly in The Hoya.

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