It’s the night where you’re introduced to a world you’ve only heard about in stories or inaccurate movie portrayals. It’s the night you’ve dreaded ever since you signed your bid card.
Yes, pledge night.
You’re about to be thrown into the turbulent seas of pledgeship and the brothers are forcing you to jump in with both feet, whether you like it or not. Fraternities are all unique in their own ways, whether it’s rituals, ceremonies, parties, etc., but what bonds us is how we make our pledges earn acceptance to the brotherhood.
On my official pledge night my pledge class and I were oblivious to what was going to happen. We had been introduced to the rules of pledgeship, too naïve to think that pledgeship would include anything other than memorizing the house’s history, motto and such. Yeah, we’d clean the house, sober drive and maybe get paddled or do a few pushups if we screwed up too bad.
Man, was I wrong.
We headed to our nightly study hall at an empty classroom building a short walk from our house. A couple of hours in, we get a text from our pledge trainer:
“Line up in the hall. We’ll be there in 10 minutes.”
The desperate looks that we would all soon know too well began forming on our faces. We all sensed something was coming and that it wouldn’t be good.
Two juniors and our pledge educator stormed into the hall where we were lined up, instructing us to follow them. They led us to an empty section of campus, next to some construction where we would be out of sight. It began there:
Our pledge class formed a circle, with our backs to the center of the circle. Our VP spoke:
“We went to make our deposit on our bus for the Army Bros and Navy Hoes party earlier today. We were pretty shocked, needless to say, when the bus company called to tell us that our check had bounced. We checked the bank account, it had just fifty dollars left in it.”
My gullible, 18-year-old pledge mind started to race. Holy fuck, who would be dumb enough to steal money from the actives? I wondered which one of my pledge brothers a klepto retard?
They walked around our half assed circle, screaming at us, trying to get one of us to crack.
“None of you want to talk? Alright, we’ll see what the brothers have to say…”
We arrived back at the house. The windows were blacked out with trash bags, completely dark, like some kind of fucked up carnival ride. We could hear yelling and screaming in the basement. The creepy piano theme from Eyes Wide Shut was playing all throughout the house.
They led us into our study room, where our president sat on one of the couches. He instructed us to kneel.
“We’ve got money missing from social. A fuck-ton of money missing. None of the brothers say they did it. It was one of you fuckwads. None of you want to speak up? Then you’ll have to pay for it. Get changed. Blank white t-shirts and boxer shorts. No shoes. You have two minutes to meet back here.”
We were back in the study in our assigned uniforms for the night. Stripped down like some sort of modern day slave auction. They herded us into one of the bathrooms. The showers were running on hot, and had to have been for at least half an hour, making the bathroom like a sauna.
We sat there, as they called us down to the basement, one-by-one. With each pledge, a brother came into the bathroom saying one of us had quit.
Finally, they called my name after over an hour of sweating my ass off in a dirty frat house bathroom with 28 other guys. There were still about 15 of my pledge brothers in the bathroom when I left. The actives instructed me to head for the basement. Simple enough, except for the fact that the house was nearly pitch black and there was a brother around each corner, waiting to fuck with me.
“WHO’S THE BOSS?!” A sophomore yelled in my ear in the second floor hallway. I could tell it was my suitemate. I cautiously answered, ”You are…?”
“WRONG BITCH! TONY DANZA’S THE BOSS! GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!”
Another brother jumped out of a darkened room, with the creepy as hell music blaring from it.
“PLEDGE _______, DO YOU TRUST I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU DIE HERE TONIGHT?”
“Sir, yes sir.”
“SON THIS AIN’T THE MILITARY! DON’T SIR YES SIR, ME! I’LL SNAP THAT LITTLE DICK OF YOURS IN HALF AND FEED IT TO A SQUIRREL!”
More yelling. I got closer to the basement. The yelling was tribal, it was like they were speaking in tongues. I felt like a Florida quarterback walking into Rocky Top. The air was thick with hate and the stench of beer and whiskey. Oh fuck.
A single chair sat in the middle of the basement. I was instructed to sit. They pelted me with questions. Finally it grew silent. The pledge trainer spoke up.
“Did you steal the money from social?”
“BULLSHIT, I DON’T BELIEVE YOU”
Empty beer cans came flying at my head as they guided me towards the brother room. It was full of seniors. There’s nothing more terrifying as a pledge than to walk into a room full of brothers whom you’ve never seen before. They were all shitfaced.
The seniors’ questions were outrageous, I had no idea how to respond, or how I would survive. I was like a nervous twelve-year-old being interrogated by a dream (nightmare?) team of CIA, KGB, and Gestapo agents. The air was heavy with beer breath. They had set up the couches in stadium style seating, with the massive flat screen in the background showing static, with their silhouettes only showing.
“PLEBES, FINISH THIS SENTENCE…CHOO, CHOO, CHOO…”
“Sammy Blue?” I said.
“WHO THE FUCK SAID THAT?”
“Pledge ________, sir.”
I was quickly grabbed by two seniors and taken behind the TV. Whiskey, beer and vodka were poured into my mouth. It was not comfortable in the least, but I took solace in knowing the night would go a little bit easier with some booze in my system.
Finally, my entire pledge class was taken into the brother room. Before we knew it, we were being quickly ushered back into the basement main room. The lights were still off. The brothers were screaming even louder.
“None of you cracked. But someone fucking did it. We know who it is. If you just step forward, this will all end. No one? Alright. Boys, you know what to do” He signaled to someone out of my sight.
The lights in the basement came on and a roar came from the brothers. They doused us with beer and officially welcomed us into pledgeship. Our pledge dads gave us bottles of liquor with our pledge names on them. My name? “AIDS”
Our pledge trainer spoke for the final time.
“Boys, enjoy this night, because it’s going to be your last one for a long, long time. Now black the fuck out.” he said, pointing to coolers full of beer.
At least 90% of the house was passed out and I’m with three of my pledge brothers and four actives in a room off the beaten path in our house. We were trying to have a conversation, but it was mostly just drunken ramblings of guys in the infancy of forming a brotherhood.
One thing stood out, I asked one of the older guys, “Does it get easier after this?”
He took a deep breath, laughed his ass off, and then spewed on the table.
We all knew right there that we were far from done.