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Based On A True Story: Gumming Up The Works

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The following is a fictionalization of true events.


The Pledge trudged slowly up the steep, suburban hill on the edge of campus and back to his fraternity house. It was a long, slow, demoralizing march, and each heavy exhale he released as he labored up the hill came out as a sad sigh. He was out of cigarettes–the actives had taken them all immediately after he bought the pack, so he mashed on a piece of gum to relieve his stress. He had even started buying terrible cigarettes–Pall Malls and Newports–just so the actives wouldn’t take them. Instead, they took them, and then bitched him out for buying terrible cigarettes. They had an answer for everything.

The Pledge pulled out his cell phone. No texts. No request for him to be somewhere else–he desperately needed one. The Pledge briefly considered the idea of finding himself a girlfriend, if only to have a dorm room to escape to whenever he needed, but quickly dismissed it. He knew several of the actives would devote their time to trying to bang said girlfriend, should he even have the time to find one. And he knew that’s the type of sex that absolutely gets Snapchatted to everyone. Saving some poor, sweet girl from having a video of her getting railroaded from behind by a guy who kept purposely calling her the wrong name in a half-open bathroom stall sent around to 70 or so brothers slightly outweighed the fleeting relief the Pledge could have found in her dorm room. Slightly.

Even if the actives didn’t succeed, surely they would claim they had anyway just to piss off the Pledge. One active, Harrison, had done as much with the Pledge’s ex-girlfriend from high school, though they were already broken up. Harrison hadn’t actually had sex with the Pledge’s ex, but he claimed he did. He wasn’t being serious, though it was always hard to tell with Harrison. It only became clear he hadn’t violated the first girl the Pledge ever loved after Harrison, who was adept at Photoshop, had passed around evidence in the form of his head, and the ex’s head, pasted onto a graphic porno screenshot. Harrison had done it solely to make the Pledge angry. He didn’t even try to make it look legitimate. Harrison’s thoroughly suburban-white head sat squarely on the shoulders of a gigantic black man with a hulking, disturbingly vascular, and inexplicably angry looking howitzer of dick, and said howitzer was absolutely blasting a cartoonishly huge-breasted girl with a rose garden tattooed across her ankle, which was currently positioned north of her head. All this while on top of a gurney in what sort of looked like a poorly put together hospital.

“Yeah, uh, me and your ex decided to take a quick break from candy striping,” Harrison explained as he hung the picture up on the Pledge’s wall. “Leave this here. It’ll remind you how important volunteer work is. This fraternity is philanthropy.”

So, with no excuse for him to avoid whatever whiskey-fueled chapter of his waking nightmare was next, the Pledge trudged on.

Whiskey-fueled, he thought, was an unfortunately appropriate adjective. Two nights earlier, late on a Tuesday, the Pledge had been tending to his usual array of random pledge chores. At the beginning of the semester the Pledge Trainer had described said chores as “whatever the fuck we tell you to do,” as he drank Ten High and Coke out of a Whataburger cup. That Tuesday night, whatever the fuck they told the Pledge to do was to repaint a hallway on the third floor. This was a priority at 10:53 p.m. on a Tuesday night, apparently–accounting homework would have to wait. Having homework wasn’t a good excuse to get out of pledge chores. “Why didn’t you finish it during study hall?” they would demand. Unfortunately for the Pledge, “Because 15 minutes into study hall some drunk actives came in and demanded to be taken to an off campus house, so I was forced to drive them there, but they couldn’t remember where it was, and spent the entire 40 minute ride yelling at me for being ‘shitty at directions’,” was not a good excuse either.

“Sounds like it’s your fault for being shitty at directions.”

They had an answer for everything.

The Pledge’s thoughts while painting had turned from finishing accounting homework to figuring out an excuse for why he had not finished it. As far as his professors were concerned, the Pledge’s family had suffered more hardship than the Kennedys. His mom broke her leg in a fall. His dad came out of the closet and left his mom. His uncle had prostate cancer. His sister was pregnant. He had fake-whored out his own sister for a paper extension, and he would do it again if he had to. He couldn’t even keep all the excuses straight. He might have actually claimed one of his relatives had been assassinated, just like a Kennedy. If even half of what he told his professors was true, any normal human being would have suffered a mental breakdown by now. The Pledge was close to authenticating everything with an actual mental breakdown–induced from pledging. The next time someone asked him why he liked wieners in his mouth so much as he did bows and toes on top of bottle caps, he was just going to lose it.

The Pledge finally made it up the hill and turned into his fraternity house’s drive.


There were actives smoking on the front porch. The Pledge tried to make out who it was, to see if he should approach around back instead. He couldn’t tell and, against a dreading suspicion, he approached the front of the house. After another 30 feet, it was clear Harrison was one of the actives on front porch of the dilapidated plantation home, one that looked like it had been abandoned and then half-burned during Sherman’s March to the Sea–there were actually a few burn marks on the south end of the house. The actives who spent the last summer in town had forgotten to buy fireworks to celebrate, so in their genius ingenuity, they went out and bought red, white, and blue food coloring. They made a dozen or so Molotov cocktails, each with a different color. Aside from violently exploding, the Molotov cocktails did not work as planned, all the flames burned white, and hot, and the house nearly burned down. The actives blamed the failure on their celebratory explosives, which they deduced were “too communist” for the Fourth of July.

Harrison spotted the Pledge and pointed at him. That meant “come,” so the Pledge came.

“Where were you?” Harrison asked.

“Class,” the Pledge replied.

“You dip?” Harrison asked.

The Pledge had no idea how to answer. He was fucked either way, but which answer was less wrong?

“No?” the Pledge replied completely devoid of confidence.

“Throw what’s left of this fucker in,” Harrison ordered, as he tossed the Pledge a mostly full can of long cut Skoal.

The Pledge wanted no part of this. He didn’t dip regularly, and he knew that too much would definitely make him puke. His mind scrambled to think of an excuse. Something, anything that could somehow get him out of giving himself nicotine poisoning.

“I, uh, I can’t, I have this gum in,” the Pledge half-heartedly insisted.

It was a terrible excuse and the Pledge knew it. He deflated and waited for what was surely going to be a horrifying response.

A familiar look came over Harrison’s face, equal parts angry and perplexed.

“Well then shove it up your ass!” Harrison yelled off the cuff.

He knew they had an answer for everything, but that was worse than even the Pledge expected. Was Harrison serious? He never knew. Harrison was really insistent that he had fucked the Pledge’s ex, even after he showed the picture of his face pasted onto a giant black porn star’s body.

Harrison, apropos of nothing, had just ordered the Pledge to shove something up his ass. The Pledge had no idea whether or not Harrison was serious, but protesting would surely lead to something worse. Since it was just gum, the Pledge figured he could just sort of slip it in the crack and get it out after he went inside. It wouldn’t be that bad, he thought. Then, the Pledge realized he was rationalizing shoving something up his ass, and he crashed to a new low. Then the bottom dropped out of his former and brief low as he took the gum from his mouth and slipped it into his crack.

Harrison’s eyes bulged out of their sockets and he began dying of laughter.

“HOLY FUCK DUDE!” Harrison exclaimed. “I wasn’t serious! Did you just put that up your ass?!”


“What the fuck man!?!?” the Pledge yelled. “How the fuck was I supposed to know?!”

Harrison couldn’t answer. He was doubled over and tears were streaming down his face.

“Can I go?” the Pledge asked.

“Yeah…yeah…oh my God,” Harrison heaved out in between bouts of echoing laughter.

The Pledge walked inside with great discomfort and no dignity. He made a beeline for the bathroom to take care of the gum.

In the bathroom, the Pledge made a startling discovery. The gum was stuck. Stuck right there in his hairy asshole. He yanked on it, but the pain was too much. Skin, asshole skin, was definitely going to come off with the gum and the hair, and crapping over a gaping rectal wound was not something the Pledge found appealing. He would have to try something else.

Fuck me. Fuck this day.

A day later, the gum was still there. Still entangled in the Pledge’s b-hole. He had tried everything to get it out. The peanut butter trick didn’t work–it also changed peanut butter forever for the Pledge. He tried cutting it out, but slicing blind back there was both ineffective and terrifying. Now, out of options and long out of self-respect, the Pledge turned to his last, saddest, and most embarrassing option.

“Hey man,” the Pledge said awkwardly to his roommate, who was one of his pledge brothers.

“Hey,” the Pledge Brother replied.

There was an awkward silence. The Pledge figured his Pledge Brother knew what was coming, which made saying the words all the harder. Everyone knew what the Pledge had done the day before. Everyone knew about it roughly 15 minutes after it happened. Someone shoving something up his ass isn’t a piece of knowledge that stays secret in a fraternity house for long. Brothers were basically shouting it at each hallway corner, like bastard newsies with a hot lead on what was in the Pledge’s ass, and how “fucking retarded” he was.

“Can–” the Pledge began. “I need a favor….”

The Pledge Brother was now on edge. Maybe, hopefully, the Pledge just needed a ride somewhere, or to borrow a pen. Anything but what he suspected was coming. The most horrible of requests. The Pledge Brother figured the Pledge couldn’t be about to ask for help with getting something out of his ass. That’s not something you ask non-medical personnel, or someone who isn’t familiar with his ass, or nearby regions like the gooch and balls and stuff. That’s just common decency.

Enough was enough, the Pledge decided.

“Please help me get this gum out of my ass. It’s stuck and I can’t shit and it hurts like fuck to walk. Please. I won’t tell anyone–I’ll fucking pay you, but please just help me get this gum out of my ass. This has been the worst 24 hours of my life. End it please,” the Pledge blurted out, pleading his hopeless case.

“DUDE! NO! You put it there, you get it out,” his horrified Pledge Brother insisted.

“I tried! I can’t! Please!” the Pledge desperately exclaimed.

“I…I just, no,” the Pledge Brother said, shaking his head.

“I’d do it for you!” the Pledge argued.

“Well you’re not gonna have to because I’m not gonna shove any gum up my ass so it’s sort of a moot point,” the Pledge Brother countered.

That was it. What else was there to say? The Pledge walked awkwardly out of the room, defeated.

An hour later, the Pledge, whiskey fueled in his own right after pounding what was left of a half-full bottle of McCormick’s, finally worked up the courage to yank out the gum, and he did. It really fucking hurt, and so did the raw patch where he ripped off skin and hair. That night, to numb the physical and emotional shame, the Pledge got roaring drunk. In a moment of drunken forgetfulness, he ordered $9 worth of Taco Bell, and the next morning he wept on the toilet.


Ed. Note: This is a new series in which I fictionalize a real story from any facet of Greek Life, either one that happened to me or one that I know well, from being told first-hand or having read in the news. I take the real story and slap some artistic license on it, essentially novelizing it. If you would like one of your fraternity tales turned into a short story, email the pertinent details to All houses, names, and schools will be kept anonymous.

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