“Get in the basement. Now.”
Just typing these words gives me chills that remind me of the temporary (yet seemingly never-ending) hell that is pledgeship. Each fraternity has their own hazing area, whether it be the basement, the attic, etc., and each fraternity has their own method of hazing. For me, it was the basement and The Wall.
The Wall is a wall in the basement that looks like it’s seen the most disgusting and gruesome moments of the house’s long and tortured history. It’s made up of what looks like rotted wood that’s been painted over and then re-painted over two or three or 400 more times to make it look somewhat presentable. Our letters, made out of the same rotted wood, were nailed onto the wall. When you’re doing wall sits, you can imagine that having a corner of the wood dig into your back and an active blowing cigarette smoke in your face while drowning you in questions about his mom’s favorite perfume isn’t the best feeling in the world.
I, too, have to imagine that, as due to my severe knee problems, I was given a chair. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t still hazed, though. For some reason that I still do not know to this day, there were tire rims just lying around in the basement, and I was given one to hold above my head for the entire Wall session. Throughout the meeting, I was asked to do shoulder presses, curls, triceps extensions, and steering wheels. Call me a pussy for not doing wall sits if you want, but that shit was the fucking worst. Don’t ever ask me if I even lift, either.
To anyone who hasn’t been through pledgeship, they’ll say all this hazing is pointless and stupid. That it doesn’t make any sense. These guys are a year or two older than me; what the hell gives them the right to treat me like shit? Why are they so special? Yeah, that’s what I thought too through the first couple weeks. Eventually, I realized there was a purpose to this madness — the painful, screwed up, humiliating, and mind-fucking madness of The Wall.
You enter a house of around 80 guys that are complete strangers to you. Sure, you may have partnered up with one for beer pong at a rush event or unknowingly fucked one of the active’s younger sisters in your previous years, but that’s not the point. The point is you’re alone. They don’t know you, you don’t know them, and you still think people care about how tight you were in high school. This is where The Wall comes in.
Hazing, if done with a purpose, is done to force you to get to know your pledge brothers. It forces you to take responsibility for your actions. It forces you to follow through with duties that are assigned to you. The Wall is designed to force feed you life lessons.
The Wall is what brings you together. It’s what forms your brotherhood. It’s what takes a group of hotshot high school strangers, breaks them down to their lowest points, then remolds them into a group of brothers that would do anything for each other. After a long night on The Wall, there was nothing better then going out onto the stoop and smoking a cig with a pledge brother or two while watching the sunrise. It was a time where you could get to know each other better, bitch about actives, or just sit there together knowing you’ve got each other’s back.
There’s a moment in everyone’s pledgeship where one stops, looks around, and realizes, “Damn. We’re actually brothers.” This moment for me was when some boners from another school kept trying to haze us while we were cleaning the basement. One of my pledge brothers threw down his mop and got in one of the guy’s faces. The guy shoved my pledge brother away, and before I knew it, my whole pledge class had dropped everything they were doing and were ready to jump in if necessary. I looked around and realized that, just 5 mere weeks ago, I wouldn’t have cared if this kid got his shit wrecked in a fight. Now, I’m ready to jump into a fight for him, no questions asked, despite my shitty knees.
Pledgeship was hell. I never want to do it again, but if I had to go back and do the mindfucks, late nights, naps in study hall, bolt/walkout, bows and toes, pushups, and sober driving all over again to get the brothers I have today? I’d head back down to The Wall in a heartbeat..
Image via TFM Original Video Hell Week: Behind the Scenes – Random Frat House Moments