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Image via Deadspin
When I returned home for Christmas break after pledge semester my freshman year, many of my boys that I went to high school with had the same question for me. They asked with sincere demeanors, “Is all that stuff about the elephant walk true, Rodge? Is it? Huh, Rodge? Did they really make you do it? If so, was it awful? Did you actually have to grab another guy’s package? Are you a gay boy now, Rodge?” I answered coyly, “No, we didn’t do the elephant walk. All that stuff is a myth, designed to scare pledges. And of course I’m not gay. I’m still the same old Rodge.” Then, that was that. The topic of discussion moved forward. Only, my mind was stuck on the elephant walk thing.
Truthfully, I was pretty pissed off we never did it. There were times during a pre-haze session lineup where I’d turn to the pledge brother next to me — his name was Dorfman, next to your boy in the alphabetical lineup — and whisper gleefully, “I think tonight’s finally gonna be the night, Dorf! I can feel it!” “Are you talking about the elephant walk again, you sick son of a bitch?” Dorfman fired back. I answered him: “Dude, yes! Of course I am. I’m ready to take our brotherhood up a notch. Aren’t you?” “I’m not touching your dick, Roger!” he retorted as anger grew in his voice.
Dorf used to act like such a homo during those lineups. He just didn’t get it. So many people don’t get it.
As I understood it, the term “elephant walk” referred to a group of fraternity pledges standing in a single-file line, naked, walking, and connected by their hands holding onto each others’ cranks. Obviously, it had been done before (see above photo from Indiana University in the ’70s – Mark Cuban actually appears in the photo near the top left, standing in the doorway with the letterman jacket on), but times have changed. Hazing has changed. With pressure from universities and national offices, and with the ever-present threat of litigation, fraternities can no longer get away with some of the hazing rituals of old.
“Are you talking about the elephant walk again, you sick son of a bitch?” Dorfman fired back.
I too had heard all the outlandish, ominous tales of the infamous elephant walk before ever setting foot on campus. It terrified me at the time, but then I thought, Nah, there’s no way they do that stuff anymore. That’s way over the top. I bet they barely do any physical hazing, actually. The threat of it never existed during my pledgeship, though. But why not? I began wondering why the actives never made us participate in the age-old pledge ritual. Could it have been that bad? I mean, they made us do some pretty messed up stuff. Nothing (homo)sexual in nature or anything like that, but they made us do some things and eat some crap that still conjures up terrible memories. Would a good old-fashioned elephant walk session have been that far outside the norm of our regular hazing activities? Couldn’t they have parlayed some pledge paddling into an E.W.? Moving on from taking ass swats with a paddle to walking and holding each others’ hangdowns even seems like a natural progression.
It’s all about brotherhood. We should have participated. You can’t be too close with your brothers, right?
Remember the scene in Forrest Gump when Forrest and Bubba are in Vietnam and had just laid down to get some sleep after a long day fighting Viet Congs for the US of A? Exhausted and weary, they laid down to grab some shut eye, only the conditions for sleeping were far from ideal. It was wet, it was muddy, they were in full gear, and of course, they were in battle. Bubba comes up with a great idea, suggesting that he and Forrest lean against each other, back-to-back, in order to stabilize themselves and find comfort. That’s brotherhood. That’s camaraderie. That’s a bond that a herd of opposite direction-walking elephants couldn’t break. And just think, as close as these two American war heroes became, they never elephant walked.
Pledge A: “I’m gonna grab your dick. You just grab right back on mine. This way, we don’t have to walk without our dicks in our hands. You know why we a good partnership, Scooter? ‘Cause we be watchin’ out for one another. Like brothers and stuff. Hey, Scooter, there’s somethin’ I’ve been thinkin’ about. I got a very important question to ask you. How would you like to go into the shrimpin’ business with me?”
Pledge B: “Okay.”
Alas, we never walked like elephants. I never saw my pledge brothers’ naked, downtrodden bodies. I never had to reach up under their groins grasping for man meat. And I never touched or grabbed any of their penises. Sad.
Think about this earnestly before you dismiss it. With your hand on a dude’s wiener, or with his hand on yours, you really have no choice but to trust him, and to form an intimate bond with him. None of that over-the-pants bullshit either. I’m talking fully unclothed, skin on skin action. No shortcuts.
5 reasons why the Elephant Walk would bring a pledge class closer together:
1. You can’t fully trust a man until you know the girth of his weiner.
2. If you grab a wiener, and it doesn’t become erect, you know he’s not gay.
3. Dicks out, chicks out.
4. You have no choice but to be nice to a brother when his hand is full of your wiener.
5. The maximum level of brotherhood is attainable.
Only one or two elephant walks per pledge class would suffice, in my opinion. I wouldn’t make the pledges do it every week or anything. That would just be gay.