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You all know them. They walk among us just like everyone else. Maybe you can catch a glimpse of their telltale signs: a gut that hangs out just enough to be over the waistline of their pants, or a Big Gulp cup that contains a suspiciously colored mixture of liquid at 2:00 p.m. It’s even possible you caught a glimpse of them deep in the throng of the student section, retreating to the shooters they concealed in their underwear during the TV timeouts. They are modern day super heroes who use their powers for debauchery and havoc. I am referring to the mythical mainstays of fraternity culture: the tanks.
Perhaps you have seen them coming to terms with their ability in the dimly lit shadows of house parties — first testing their limits by downing mixed drinks by the quart, then pushing themselves into shots of 151 and somehow cleaning out entire bottles on their own. Fascinated by their ability, they push themselves further. Why not an entire handle? What amount of alcohol would put them in the hospital? How long could they chug liquor from the bottle without their vocal cords dissolving into a paste? These questions haunt them day and night, their gift of consumption as much a curse as a blessing, their pursuit of drunken perfection morphing into an obsession.
I have seen men do great things: an architecture major stack chairs on top of a sleeping pledge to resemble “Christ the Redeemer,” a brother score with the same dumbass pickup line five nights in a row, a Sperry survive immolation — but everything pales in comparison to what tanks can accomplish. Blacking out is their goal, not their penalty, for an incredible night. The sly smile that creeps over their faces as other people inform them of their drunken deeds is a cold reminder of the churning maelstrom of alcohol psychosis that lurks underneath their normal personae. We mere mortals stand in awe of them as they check their receipts to see how much of the creature they had purchased during their last bar adventure, their brows furrowed as they calculate how much they ingested, what quantity it took to unleash the beast within.
This elite corps of gentlemen is part of Greek lore. The people who Standards loathe to see walk through the door of a hearing. The assholes who somehow run half the fraternity bar tab out by themselves. Despite their resident positions as risk management nightmares, the fraternity wouldn’t be the same without them. The keg wars, the bottle chugs, and the case races would be without their ringers, the nights out wouldn’t end with a pledge class-wide manhunt for them across the entirety of campus ground, a search that requires more forensic investigation than homicide cases. The fun would be harder to find.
So this is for you, you magnificent bastards. Whether your nickname is some sort of explosive or natural disaster, you are a rare breed, a perfect storm of chaos that this dull world benefits from to no end. To the men who pound bottles of whiskey and butter the entire stairway with Land-O-Lakes spreadable, and the guys who somehow walk out of a Dunkin Donuts at 3:00 a.m. with a baker’s dozen without paying for them after nine rounds of tequila sunrises, I salute you. While you might not be the heroes your fraternities need, you are certainly the ones the drinking masses deserve..