Friday, October 28, 2005

Pledge

The first thing you learn as a Fiji is to be secretive, something I have never been very good at. Ask my wife, I totally suck at it. So, my privileged readers, you are about to be treated to some serious insider shit, and when it's all over you're going to say, "Is that it?"

Because the Fiji is so secretive, he doesn't clap in secret meetings--he snaps his fingers. I'm serious. And when a Fiji reads this, all my posts and comments on other blogs will be scrutinized by Fiji headquarters for clues, and I will be hunted down and killed.

Our pledge class thought it was ridiculous too, but soon we got the hang of it. The new pledges gathered in the greeting room in the front of the house, and of course we all had to introduce ourselves. Most of us were awkward looking in some way: too tall, disheveled hair, gaunt, skinny, short, fat, and random combinations thereof--like puzzles missing the last piece, a sad sack of Mr. Potato heads asymmetrically assembled by a sadistic child. Let's just say this was no beauty contest; but if it were, I would have had a good shot at the crown.

Each of us in turn stood up and stated our name, home town and major, followed by a chorus of snapping fingers like popcorn in a popper.

"Hi, uh, my name is Peter. I'm from Walla Walla. I'm, you know, studying to be a Veterinarian because I, uh, don't mind touching animals, you know?" The last two syllables warbled like a desperate plea. A gale of laughter cleaved the tense silence, as Peter quailed and skulked from the room like a cheerleader from a muffed tryout, face buried in cupped hands. We never saw him again.

"I'm Craig from Wenatchee, Criminal Justice. The only thing you need to know about me is that I am the fastest beer guzzler in this room." It was no idle boast either. He became my new mentor, and soon I could drink two Budweiser longnecks at the same time and only swallow once--after all, I still had much to learn.

There was Ned, who nicknamed himself Speed before someone gave him an unflattering moniker. To me he was Napoleon, a short man with a tall attitude--although I was polite enough to keep that one to myself. Eric from Seattle was a recovering Dead-head. Paul was a nice guy that waddled when he walked. Tony was my old dorm-mate. He was not attractive, but he didn't need to be because he was so cool. Still, that didn't explain how he managed to reel in his sweetheart of a girlfriend Molly that melted the heart of any guy that met her. The mystery was solved when Tony walked into the shower room, and word quickly spread. Of course we all pretended not to see, because we're not supposed to. It came out during a night of drinking.

We were sitting around the table playing quarters. I rolled the a quarter from the bridge of my nose, it hit the table with a crisp knock, and landed in the shot glass and rang like a cat's bell.

"Drink Tony." I said.

"How the hell did such an ugly fuck like you end up with a girl like Molly," Craig said as Tony threw back his beer mug.

"It's because he's hung like a horse," I said. Tony wiped his mouth and smiled wide while everyone had a good laugh.

I joined a fraternity to meet girls, so my plans weren't exactly moving forward. On the contrary, I had taken a huge leap back, because our house had a bad brand amongst the sororities. If a sister dated one of my brothers, she was independently minded, and didn't succumb to peer-pressure--so you can imagine how often that happened. I met lots of girls on campus, but once they found out what house I was in, the lights just went out. But my pledge brothers, and a great many of the house members, were good people, and despite my initial motivations, I was becoming one of them.

Jeff Starr. That's his real name. He is still my friend today because he is the most honest and sincere person I have ever met. His manner is slow, so he is frequently the target of ridicule by "cooler" people who are in fact slower in more important ways. Jeff tells the truth much like a child does, totally innocent and seemingly without knowing how it must sound. His way is real and heartfelt, and his friends don't just like him, they adore him.

Jim, one of the house members, always had something to say about Jeff. Jeff had a 280z with a personalized plate that said "THESTAR." Seven was the most characters you could get on a license plate, so he couldn't get a space between the and star. So Jim called him Thestar, as rhymes with Uncle Fester of the Addams Family, and the nickname stuck.

At a bar once, when Jeff had gone to get us some beers, Jim asked me, "How did you lose Starr?" He laughed at his own wittiness, but I just stared back at him.

"Why would I want to?" I said.

His smile faded, and then he looked around to see if any of his brothers were going to back him up. They just shrugged. "Uh, well, I was just joking."

The Fijis threw a dance party that required each brother to bring a date. Denny, a Fiji member and an extremely handsome and chiseled body builder, set Jim up on a date. Cassie was a knockout. I recognized her from around campus, and would have gladly traded places with Jim. She came to the house looking for him to be formally introduced and invited.

She waited in the greeting room as Denny made the introduction. Many of my fellow pledges and some of the house members were nearby to witness. Jim flushed crimson, even down his neck. He stammered and sputtered, looked at the ceiling and the floor, and made a total ass of himself. It was embarrassing by association. Cassie waited patiently, but you could see it on her face: "What have I gotten into?"

He finally asked her to go with him and she agreed. She shook his sweaty hand and took her leave. Nobody said a word to Jim. But I stored it up for later.

A couple nights later, as part of our pledge duties, Jeff and I had to serve dinner to the rest of the house. Word came to the kitchen that we had to put on a skit before dinner.

I had a wonderful idea.

Jeff put on some lipstick and I put on some red sweatpants and pulled the waist up over my belly, so that I had a slight camel toe. We got a pair of glasses and put tape around the middle, and with them on I looked a lot like Spaz from Meatballs.

Jeff walked out with Ned as a chaperone.

Ned: Wait here and I'll go get Jim.

Jeff (talking falsetto): Oh thank you Denny, you're so handsome!

Ned (flexing): Don't I know it.

I walked out and the place came unglued. Ned brought me to where Jeff stood and I made a really big show out of being stupid. Everyone was having a hard time breathing for all the laughing there was--except for Jim.

And like Jim, I finally mustered my courage to ask Jeff out, and we walked back to the kitchen hand in hand.

Funny, they never asked me to do a skit again.

I made one enemy that night--the first of many.

20 comments:

Sadie Lou said...

*laughing* That was rich. You did a great job of setting that story up. I wrote a little story today...
I'm not as keen on writing as you are. *humbled*

Tee said...

I love this one, Scott! Really entertaining. I was smiling the whole time I read it.

Scott said...

Sadie - I'll be by later to check it out. I've been away a lot because of that darn work thing again. Thanks for the props. Writing gets better with practice and dedication. Keeping a blog qualifies as the former. I read how-to books and enroll in classes (as time permits of course), and am constantly trying to improve myself, but I have so much further to go. Keep going Sadie. It's all in how bad you want it.

Tee - Thank you. It makes me smile to read comments like this, so that makes us even.

Eve said...

Great story Scott! Once again, very effortless and enjoyable reading. I'm looking forward to more.

Scott said...

Thanks Eve, and brace yourself for the big game this weekend! It's the ones we should win that scare me the most.

Eve said...

Cowboys are gonna go bird hunting.

Scott said...

I wish I had your confidence...

Sadie Lou said...

Keep going Sadie. It's all in how bad you want it.
Thanks Scott.
do you know I always have the urge to call you Potty Scotty? It's a nickname I gave a friend that rode the school bus with me.
Good ol' Potty Scotty--I wonder what he's up to.

Scott said...

That's funny Sadie, my brother still calls me Scotty Pottie, and I barely notice it sounds so natural. Good story you wrote today. I love it when the bad guy gets what is coming to her.

Eve said...

Can't think any other way - otherwise it's defeatist! Nguyen is still probable, but he'll be at the game.

Trevor Record said...

In our modern age, it is actually unbearably cool to be in any fraternity at all. They're basically considered the lowest rung of society, if you'd believe it. They're so uncool they make the grave mistake of not knowing they're uncool! They're basically the people who were cool in high-school that are desperately trying to hold on to the past. It's actually pretty sad.

Moni said...

Very nice Scott, you made feel as tough I were there. :) It's very descriptive of the angst we all feel when we're away from home for the first time and trying to find our own social standing.

Shesawriter said...

You've got a way with words, Scott. I was laughing my butt off. Good one! :-)

Tanya

Chloe said...

Absolutely loved it!

Eve said...

See doubting Thomas - we did it! We bagged us some birds!!!!!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

ha ha!!

Camels toe.

Nice

jenbeauty said...

a sad sack of Mr. Potato heads asymmetrically assembled by a sadistic child best line!!

The Zombieslayer said...

Uh oh, you must have joined the wrong frat if you joined to meet chicks and your frat had a bad rep with the babes. :(

Eve said...

Best headline in this morning's paper: Stylish Barber a cut above the rest (our sportswriters are so witty)

Mrs.T said...

Oh my... LOL