“PCP, you worthless sack of shit. Give me the Greek Alphabet.”
Shaking and dripping with sweat that had a high enough alcohol content to murder an adolescent elephant, I struggled to stand up from the bows and toes position and turned to face the man who had been haunting my nightmares for just over a week now.
“Alright, Anal Beads, if you can give me the Greek Alphabet, you and your other three-chromosomed pledge brothers can go home to your miserable lives.”
Slowly and with less confidence than that albino kid from Benchwarmers swinging a bat, I began to recite the alphabet. Although I started out shaky, I began to grow more sure of myself as the alphabet progressed, and buy the time I pronounced “omega,” the 4-loko in my system convinced me it was a good idea to turn around and give my pledge brothers a little fist pump.
“YOU THINK YOU’VE EARNED THE RIGHT TO CELEBRATE?!” the fifth-year senior yelled, a vein popping so prominently from his forehead that I would’ve been worried for his health if I wasn’t so scared about my own. “ALL OF YOU, INTO THE UNFINISHED ROOM NOW. WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED.”
This, in a nutshell, is how my pledgeship went. Just when I thought I had scored, I dropped the ball on the one-yard line (people don’t forget Desean Jackson – we can’t forget). Over the course of my pledge process, I violated several municipal and state laws, underwent such stress that I may or may not have developed PTSD, and quite possibly took several years off of my life.
But man do I miss it.
Up to that point in my life, my biggest worry had been writing the perfect college essay and asking that out-of-my-league blonde cheerleader to prom. Sure, I had some tough times, but on the whole, I was spoiled, immature, and softer than the hand of the brother who is in a committed long distance relationship with the first girl who ever touched his fun place. But pledging changed all that. I found an inner strength I never knew I had, learned how to step up and accept the blame for my mistakes. More importantly, I realized that life isn’t fair, but complaining about it will only make it worse.
More significant than any of those life lessons we had drilled into our heads was the bond formed between my pledge brothers and I. There’s something about having all of your best friends stuck together in one room, forced to go through an ordeal that no one outside of that house would understand. After the grueling nine-week process, it felt like my pledge brothers and I had been through everything. I’ve seen my pledge brother save the day by rising from the dead and giving the area code of an obscure brother the rest of us had never heard of. I’ve carried my pledge brother home after his pissed through the house’s spare mattress. Hell, I’ve even rubbed my exposed scrotum on a prominent landmark of a rival university while my pledge brothers stood guard, only to jump into a moving car as campus security chased us of campus.
We have spring pledges now (worst fucking pledge class of all time, by the way) and I can’t help but feel a pang of jealousy as I see them grow closer together and bond over the same trials my pledge brothers and I went through.
After I failed my pledge class by celebrating my perceived triumph with the Greek Alphabet, and subjugated us to two hours of listening to RL Grime’s “Chimes” on loop (I still involuntarily twitch when I hear that song), I expected to be greeted by a chorus of boos and jeers as I entered the room. But instead, I was met with my brothers, resolutely standing by me through thick and thin. Maybe pledging was the best experience I ever went through or maybe it was the worst – but I can tell you, without a doubt, that this “worthless piece of shit PCP” went through something he will never forget..