Archive for August, 2013

Ch. 3

We spent the next day tripping over each other in our tiny suite bathroom preparing to get ready for the party.  It was, after all, our very first frat party and the impressions we made there would either make or break our Greek reputations.   Having recently decided to go through Panhellenic recruitment together, we knew that there would be sorority girls from every house that mattered at The Party tonight.  The slightest miscalculation in appearance or attitude on our part and we might as well move to an all girls school in Podunk, Nowhere, USA.  Our entire collegiate social standing was riding on which house we pledged.  Sorority rush was basically State’s version of survivor, and if you didn’t get into one of the top houses, you were pretty much voted off the Greek Island.  Certainly, in a campus of over 40,000 undergraduate students, there were plenty of kids who were not involved in a fraternity or sorority, but everyone who mattered was attached to some house.

What would college even look like without socials, Greek Week, formals, philanthropies and chapter?  Want kind of person would even want that?  I mean, sure, class, academics, that is probably important too, but don’t we live in a world where networking is the new Ivy League diploma?

“You girls do realize the importance of this night,” Libby asked us as we all huddled around the one tiny mirror in the bathroom.  “I mean I will just die if I’m not invited into one of the top three.”

“And which exactly are the top three?” Fran asked plugging in the flat iron.

Libby looked dumbfounded. “You’re kidding right?  Ronni you know what we need to be in, don’t you?  What would you girls do without me?  We have to be in one of three houses: Chi Phi Omega, Delta Delta, and Phi Delta.”

“Hey, have you guys seen Colleen today?” I asked referring to our fourth and typically invisible suitemate.  “I ran out of my curling gel and since you both have straight hair, you are completely useless to me.”

“I think she’s at her boyfriend’s house again,” Fran answered rolling her eyes in obvious annoyance that Colleen spent exactly twenty minutes out of every day in our suite.  “I don’t know why she even bothered signing up for a dorm.”

“It’s because her mom and dad don’t know that she sleeps at the boy’s house,” Libby offered clearly excited to divulge a small piece of potential gossip.  “That’s why she stops by every day.  Her parents have caller ID and they know the dorm number so she calls them.”

“Why doesn’t she just use her cell?” I interjected.

“Apparently her parents don’t believe in them.  I think they are in some sort of weird religious cult.”

“Just because they don’t believe in cell phones doesn’t mean they are in a cult,” Fran said rolling her eyes.

Again, Libby was determined to set our friend straight. “Fran, you are always trying to see the best in people.  They are total weirdos.  I mean, who doesn’t believe in cell phones?  It’s really a safety issue when you think about it.  Anyway, good riddance.  All the girl does is talk about that boyfriend of hers.  I really don’t like him.”

“Have you even met him,” I said reaching for Colleen’s hair gel.  I figured since she had moved everything else out of our dorm she must not have needed it.

“He came to pick Colleen up once and just sort of stood there lurking.  He was a total lurker.”

Fran just stood there shaking her head.  “Can we please change the subject?  We need to come up with a plan for getting ready because it is really hot in here and there is no way the three of us can get ready in this tiny bathroom.”

Whoever came up with the concept of dorm bathrooms was a sadist.  How were four girls supposed to share something that barely fit a shower, toilet and sink?  How is it possible for more than one person at a time to put on makeup in the minuscule square mirror that barely showed three quarters of your face at a time?

Our suite had four prominently distinct style themes displayed.  Well, three really.  The entire area was maybe six hundred square feet of kitchen, living area, two bedrooms and a bathroom.  I shared a room with Fran and Libby shared a room with the vanishing woman.  Fran’s style could most accurately be described as practical.  She had pictures of her boyfriend and family surrounding her bed, and a framed poster of Starry, Starry Night on the wall.  Her sheets were blue denim and simplistic.  The only thing on her desk was her laptop.  My side of the room, however, was starkly different.  I had gone with a more, well, I’ll just call it complete look.  My color scheme was pink and brown and I had tons of satin pink throw pillows and about six childhood stuffed animals that lived on my bed.  My wall was mostly covered by a large corkboard covered with pictures of my family and high school friends.  At the foot of my bed I had a six-foot high book shelf filled with DVDs and books.  Above my headboard was a whiteboard calendar that would change with the month and was already filled with meeting times, orientation workshops, classes, and my gym schedule.  I was cluttered.  She was organized.  Libby’s room, like everything about her, was modern and sheik.  She had Calvin Klein bedding in mauve and cream.  Her walls were plastered with framed portraits of Colin Farrell, the entire cast of Ocean’s 11, and even a vintage poster of Mark Wahlberg in an underwear ad before he was Marky Mark.  On her desk was her bright orange iMac, a vase of fresh sunflowers replaced every three days, and a basket of personalized stationary.  Our three themes all clashed with each other in the common area, and it conflicted so badly that it almost looked like a purposeful statement on global blending of cultural differences in a shrinking world.  At least I justified it that way.

“Ok, well I’m going to jump in the shower and then I can start getting ready in my room,” Libby stated.  “I have a huge mirror in there and it’s much cooler.”

“Well, while you’re in the shower I’ll do my hair in here, and Fran you can do your makeup in Libby’s room until your flat iron heats up.”

“Fine.  That’ll give me time to debate whether I need to do it up or leave it down.”

“Down, definitely down, Fran,” Libby said turning on the shower.  “Ok, ladies, let’s get gorgeous! It’s time to wow them all.”

When I arrived at the house with my two new girlfriends, I began looking around for Devon.  Before we could enter, though, we had to “sign in” to the guest list at the door and provide our campus phone number and email address.  The boys claimed that this was for the safety of everyone at the house in case of an accident, but looking back, I think it was more of a stalker list than anything else.  The house had been converted into a beach scene complete with what looked like a ton of playground sand poured all over the living room floor.  The guy to girl ratio was about one:ten which was pretty typical for a frat party.  The biggest fear about these things was the possibility that they would become a “sausage fest” thus ruining the reputation of the fraternity for the entirety of the five-month semester ahead.   Libby had immediately disappeared somewhere the moment we stepped into the house.  The girl was nothing if not a social butterfly.  Fran, on the other hand, had not gotten off her cell phone since we hopped onto the campus bus to take us to frat row.  Fran’s boyfriend was a year younger and still a senior in high school, but they were working through the distance.  They were also working on a stellar cell phone bill – her dad had left a pretty irate message on the machine earlier in the week, but clearly it hadn’t affected her too much.  They were currently arguing over the fact that Fran was headed to a Frat party less than a week into the fall semester.  He seemed to be arguing the safety of such events.  Apparently, Kyle was less concerned about her well being during the summer semester before frat season had commenced.  I look at her and she winced in sympathy and guilt, but I just shrugged my shoulders and set off in search of my prey.  I had done three laps around the house fending off horny freshmen pledges before I finally spotted Devon standing by the keg with her.  I casually walked over to refill my cup, smiled, said hello and then promptly walked over to one of the boys who had drooled on me earlier and asked him to dance.  Six songs later, with freshmen pledge beer sweat on my arm and something (I didn’t want to know what) sticking to the bottom of my shoe, I couldn’t help but notice that Lyssa had stormed off dramatically up the stairs.  I also saw Devon roll his eyes and chase after her.  Naturally, this brought a huge smile to face because for the past six songs I had also observed Devon staring at me on the dance floor.

Could Lyssa have possibly noticed this as well?  Could it be true?  I knew he loved me.  And the first set goes to me!

After those two disappeared upstairs, I found my girlfriends and told them everything.  They agreed that Devon would be mine before he knew what hit him!  We spent the rest of the evening drinking the free beer and punch and dancing together until the DJ quit around three am.  Aside from my boyfriend-to-be slam-dunk, we had also met and instantly bonded with sisters from five different sororities on campus including Libby’s “top three.”  We could not have had a more successful first frat experience.

The next day I got a random phone call from Devon.  He had found my number on the stalker list, which had quickly gone from creepy to absolutely and utterly fabulous in all of ten seconds and decided to call since we didn’t get much of a chance to talk at the party the night before.   He had called to ask me if I had fun at the party and told me that I should hang out more at the house.  He said that he heard from his other brothers I was a “cool girl” and there was always something going on like impromptu parties, pizza and sports on the big screen, and beer, lots and lots of beer.

This is it!  My in!  I will casually come around the house and act indifferent.  That will definitely get him noticing.  I will wow him with my understanding of football (thanks, Mom!), and awe him with my casualness.  Just when he starts falling for me, I will go in for the kill – I will ask him to teach me how to play Halo on his xBox.  Of course, I could probably kick his butt from here to Kentucky, but I will act like I just can’t figure it out, and I would never actually beat him.  Do I look that stupid?

Devon and my relationship was definitely advancing in the right direction.  We talked on the computer all the time and I started hanging out with the guys on a regular basis.  Of course, Lyssa seemed to always be hanging around, but that was something I was just going to have to deal with it seemed.  Devon and I weren’t the only two getting close.  As chummy as Libby, Fran and I had gotten when we first moved in, we became inseparable when we all rushed together.  There is something about that hellish week of dog and pony show prancing that will bring girls together.  It would seem as if the person who had come up with the tiny dorm bathrooms had an evil twin who had come up with sorority recruitment.

Panhellenic recruitment is less of an actual recruitment and more of a do-or-die, sink-or-swim beauty pageant-like audition and popularity contest that would more or less determine your social status for the next four years.  “Rush” (as it is called by those in-the-know), consists of four different rounds over a six-day period concluding at bid day at which the girls would learn their fate.  The truly torturous part of this whole process was the fact that we somehow had to maintain our flat-ironed hair, flawless makeup, and all-around put together look while sitting in tents in front of each house for no less than twenty minutes a piece in the ninety degree heat and 100% humidity.

Round one, or the blitz round as I have come to call it was over a two-day period.  During these two days, we would go to each of the sixteen sorority houses at State for about thirty minutes each.  At each house you would talk to no less than three sisters and see some sort of canned-skit that would highlight all the reasons why House XYZ was the best house around.  By house seven, however, I realized that each house had “winning intramural teams”, “stellar GPAs”, “socials with the cutest boys on campus”, and my personal favorite, “the closest sisterhood you will find anywhere.”  This revelation was always followed by a poignant pause during which the sisters would smile at each other and hug.  I only found out later when I was doing rush from the other side that you had to hug the sister next to you even if you really could not stand each other and the thought of actually hugging would cause a little bit of bile to rise in your throat.  By the time you hit the end of day two and house sixteen, I was so sick of discussing GPAs and intramural sports that I started to make stuff up.  In fact, I had one girl convinced that I was majoring in acrobatics and planned on joining Cirque de Solei after graduation.  Without missing a beat, Suzy Sorority told me how much she loved “O” and thought that living in Vegas would be the coolest.  After round one finished, we had to wait a whole night before finding out which houses had invited you back.  Apparently, the Panhellenic gods had determined that ten minutes of forced canned conversation was enough time to accurately determine your personality and fit in a particular house.  Our Phi Chis (these are sorority women who served as recruitment counselors and kept their house a secret as not to sway our decision – as if we had much choice in who asked us back) assured us as we sat sweating off our mascara and praying that our Secret did not wear off by House Three leaving us smelling more like an old shoe than powdery fresh, that our appearance did not matter.

What a joke!

At each “revealing day” we would gather in a big room with the other recruits and be handed an envelope that had in it a list of the houses that had asked us back.  It seemed as if the entire room would be holding its collective breath as these envelopes were passed out.  Inevitably there would be two distinct reactions to The List: elation that you got asked back to the house where you met your sister soul mate, or crushing devastation if you only got asked back a handful of the smaller houses.  In a few horrible instances, some girls did not get asked back to any house and your Pi Chi would call you the night before so you did not have to publicly face that kind of reaction.  Instead, you would just not be there the next day leaving the possibility open that you had decided to drop out because you really did not want to rush after all.  The night after Round 1, Libby, Fran and I stayed up most of the night dreading that call.  Fortunately, the next day arrived with no call, and much to my pleasure I had been asked back by at least six of the houses I had liked.  Although I did not get asked back to every house, I had a nice solid list of twelve and was overall pleased with my first round success.  Rounds 2 and 3 continued similarly to Round 1 with the number of houses you were allowed to visit decreasing each time, but the length of the visit increasing.  After Round 3, came the Preferential Round or “Prefs.”  This round was very serious and formal.  This time you would only visit three houses and you would be there for well over an hour.  During this round the sisters would dress in all black or all white and there was usually some sort of candle light ceremony.  Libby, Fran and I had dwindled our lists down to the same three houses and went through Prefs together.  All three houses had similar cult like chants and tearful poetry about the joys of sisterhood.  It was enough to make anyone gag.  Our Pi Chis were hovering over us the entire night to make sure we did not discuss our choices with the other recruits.  Panhellenic was entirely severe about making your own choice without any type of outside pressure.  Naturally, though, Fran, Libby and I had come up with a system to indicate the order in which we were going to rank the three houses.  Now, all we had to do was wait.  Wait all night and most of the next day until Bid Day when our fate would be decided.

“What if we’re not all in the same house,” Libby exclaimed as we came back to our dorms Saturday night following Prefs.

“Well, then, I guess I will have to stop being your friend,” I said seriously.  “I mean I’m not sure I can fraternize with a person of different letters.”

“Oh, very cute,” Fran said rolling her eyes.  “I will be bummed, too if we are not together, but I guess it won’t make that much of a difference.”

“Still, how terrible is it that they make us wait until six o’clock tomorrow evening to find out!” Libby exclaimed throwing herself onto Fran’s bed.  “I just know I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight!”

“Well, I have a brilliant idea,” I said.  “Let’s order pizza, get ice cream and rent a bunch of 80’s movies.  Everything looks brighter after some quality John Hughes dialogue.”

“Perfect,” Libby said jumping up.  “I’m going to change, let’s meet at the door in five.”

We spent the rest of the night and most of the next day stuffing our faces with two large pizzas, a gallon of ice cream, Doritos, two cases of Diet Coke, popcorn and yogurt raisins while watching Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club and For Keeps.  At three the next afternoon, we cleaned up our mess and began to get ready for the big moment: Bid Day.

The tradition of Bid Day at State was one of the most ridiculous things I had ever seen.  At exactly 5:45 pm, all five hundred or so recruits would be led onto a field by our Pi Chis.  We would then have to stand in circles of forty or so while we were handed a cream colored envelope that sealed our fate, quite literally.  The ridiculous part was what happened next.  As soon as we were handed these cards, we had to place them on our foreheads until exactly six pm when every woman would open it at the same time and run as fast as we could in our heels and sundresses to our new House.  The frat boys had coined this event the “Running of the Greeks.”

When I walked onto the field, I could not help but notice the crowd that Bid Day had drawn.  Not only was every frat boy on campus gathered for the “Run,” but it seemed like half of the 40,000 undergraduate students had come to tailgate and watch.  Naturally, I was handed my envelope first in my group.  So, I had to stand for almost twelve whole minutes just barely resisting the urge to rip open the envelope right then and there.

This has to be the most ridiculous situation I have ever been in.  I mean, it’s a hundred degrees out here!  I will just die if Libby and Fran get into Phi Delta without me!  How horribly awkward would our room be then?  I can just see it.  They will be closer than close and always be whispering about their house secrets.  I will be such a third wheel.  I’m sure Fran will move out of our room and in with Libby.  They’ll probably completely forget about me.  I should just pack up my room now and save myself the–

“Ok, girls, open your cards and join your sisters on the lawn!”

Moment of truth.

I ripped open my card and scanned immediately to the bottom.  Written in perfect script I saw it: Phi Delta Epsilon.

I got in!  I’m a Phi Delta!  Where are Fran and Libby?

As I scanned the field searching for my two girlfriends, I felt like an offensive lineman during a huge rivalry game.  I was being body chucked left and right by ecstatic girls running in every direction towards sorority row.  I saw a few girls sobbing and being led off the field with a Pi Chi back towards their dorm.  I knew that these girls had not received good news on the field and were too devastated to go the house that had given them a bid.

As I stood on my tippy-toes trying to find Libby or Fran, I heard Libby calling my name from behind me.  “Ronni, there you are!  Don’t say anything yet!  Where’s Fran.”

“I’m here!” Fran called running over completely out of breath.

“Ok, so?”  Libby asked tentatively.

In unison we all yelled out “Phi Delta!”  At once, we all began hugging, jumping up and down and squealing in excitement.  Then, we grasped hands and sprinted towards the Phi Delta house.  The sprint turned more into a speed walk since our house was located at the furthest point from the field possible, but as we approached we saw the purple and gold balloons displaying our house colors.  Our new sisters were all standing outside clapping, smiling and ready to lead us inside for our first taste of sisterhood.  As I was running off the field, I couldn’t help but notice Devon hanging by the fence.  I caught his eyes that clearly asked the obvious question and I mouthed “Phi Delta” and smiled.  He smiled back at me and responded just as silently, “Very nice.”


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Ch. 2

Elizabeth “Libby” Mertz and I had been randomly assigned to the same dorm freshman year, and we shared a suite with Frances Dietz and Colleen Writhe.  Libby was the girl you wanted to hate but ended up loving even more.  Standing 5’11” tall, most of that made up in legs, she towered over my 5’2” frame.  She was as lean as she was tall and the concept of “working out” was as foreign to her as paying less than $150 for a pair of shoes.  A rarity for a nice Jewish girl from Long Island, Libby was blessed with long, curly naturally blonde hair that contrasted her chocolate eyes and naturally tanned skin.  The worst part about Libby was that she was as loyal and loving as she was beautiful.  Although she was one of the only people I had met who could fit into Cache jeans without having them altered, she never acted superior.  In fact, although she had this supreme confidence with men, she lacked that same security with women.  Because of her appearance, Libby had trouble making female friends.  I am pretty sure that Fran and I were her first.

Fran, on the other hand, was a girls’ girl.  Although she had always had a steady boyfriend – the same steady boyfriend for about ever – Fran always had a solid core of girlfriends.  An avid soccer player in high school, she was incredibly in shape.  She stood about 5’6” and it was all lean muscle.  She had the body of a ballet dancer – medium height, solid long muscles, and not very many curves.   Of course, her complete lack of grace and inability to hold tempo quickly dashes that imagery.  Fran was the red head of the group, and the three of us together looked like an ad for hair dye.  We were as different as we were alike, but our connection was immediate.  When colleges pair up roommates it really is hit or miss.  Our friendship was magnetic – a definite hit.

“Ronni, you just have to buy this dress,” Libby squealed.  “It’s five different kinds of fabulous all rolled up into perfect!”

“Libby, be reasonable, I don’t think Ronni should spend that much for a dress she will wear for one night at a frat party,” Fran interjected.  “By midnight some freshman will have probably poured beer down the front and puked Jell-o shots down the back.”

“That’s a lovely image,” I laughed shaking my head.  “It is really cute though, and I could totally wear it during the summer.”

The three of us stood in front of the dressing room mirror staring at the fiftieth dress I had tried on that evening.  We must have been a sight all standing there with our heads cocked towards our right shoulders.  I peeked down at the price tag once again.

Why is it that girls always look at themselves in the mirror crooked?  Do we think that if we look at an angle we will suddenly appear taller, leaner and sexier?  Are we like an artist analyzing how we look from every angle on the off chance that the boy of our dreams decides to check us out upside down?  What is that about?  This dress costs how much!?

“I don’t know,” I frowned.  “Maybe Fran is right.  I mean it is a lot of money to spend on a frat party dress.”

Immediately Libby protested.  “Do you or do you not like this boy?”

“Yes, but –“

“And do you or do you not want to make a killer impression?”

“Yes, but –“

“You look freakin’ hot in that dress, Ronni.”

I cocked my head to the other side hoping to maybe get another perspective that would indicate whether or not this dress was worth the $85 it would cost me.

It really is cute, and it is really hard for me to find cute dresses.  Although, it is sort of low cut. So, is it trashy or voluptuous?  Anna Nicole or Marilyn?

“Plus, your eyes look gorgeous in that color,” Libby continued on her quest to lobby for the purchase of the dress.  “That purple makes your eyes look so green.  I love it.  You just have to get it!”

“I guess she does have a point,” Fran conceded.  “Gosh Ronni, I’d kill for your curves.  I swear if it wasn’t for my hair and my height people would think I am a boy!”

“Are you kidding?” I asked in disbelief.  “I’d give my right arm to be a size two!”

“Don’t kid yourself, Ronni,” Libby added.  “Men love a girl with boobs and hips!  You have that sexy va-va-va-voom thing going.”

The dress in question was something straight out of a 1950’s movie.  I could picture some flawless woman with oversized sunglasses, a scarf in her hair and kitty heels wearing it while cruising in a convertible Chevy – powder blue, of course.

“I think I’m going to get it!” I squealed.

“Thank goodness for that,” Libby cheered.  “Now, let’s get to Victoria’s Secret.  We need to get the essentials.”

When I took the dress up to pay, it turned out that it was 30% off.  This day just kept getting better.   First, I meet the man of my dreams while exerting my newly discovered independence.  Then, I find the ideal dress to win his heart and discover it is on sale to boot!

Soak it in, Ronni because these are the start to the best days of your life.  Oh yes, college is going to be fabulous.  Maybe I don’t have to re-invent myself after all.  I think just being Ronni will work out fine for me.  With great new girlfriends and a definite man-of-my-dreams possibility all within the first week, I’d say that things are going to work out better than fine. 

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