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Picture the following, if you can, and preferably not while naked in front of mirror with your junk tucked under. You’re a nice, attractive, intelligent, 20-year-old girl in the prime of your life. Seriously, turn off Goodbye Horses and get away from the mirror. Guys want you, and girls want to be you. You’ve got a winning smile, kind eyes, and the sort of can do attitude that’s going to get you far in life. You’re in a sorority. You’re in a good sorority. Your sisters love and respect you. They consider you a leader, or believe you should be one if you aren’t already. Everything is sunshine and happiness. Life is good. You are a good person.
On the horizon a dark storm approaches. That cloud is responsibility, a challenge. It’s your sisterhood asking you to take charge and lead the chapter! Perhaps as an exec member, perhaps in an upcoming event such as a Greek Week or Homecoming competition, or maybe it’s a Lip Sync/Dance/Skit thing. Whatever, it doesn’t matter, because you’re ready! Those kind eyes are now determined! That smile? Still winning! Goodbye cloud, because here comes a big ray of positive sunshine! Armed with a great attitude and an array of colored pens that’ll make your bureaucracy beautiful, on you go, sailing headfirst into the storm for your sisters! “Good luck,” they shout. “We’re right there with you!”
Madness. Chaos. You sailed dead towards the storm, determined to conquer it. Instead, here you lie, beached on an island of insanity. You feel isolated. You’re not quite sure how you got there. Everything happened so fast. One minute the sailing was smooth, but then the storm hit. You turned to a sister and asked her to raise the storm sail, but she couldn’t, she had another thing just then, “sorry!” The waves grew choppier still and you turned to your navigator to ask for the course. No one answers, because no one ever volunteered to be navigator, and they all forgot to tell you. Lost and afraid, you then sought advice from the old deckhand, the sister who sailed through the storm the year previous. She simply cackled a disturbed laugh, took another swig of vodka, and with a sarcastic “good luck” she jumped overboard, abandoning ship. At least she had the basic human decency to leave you the vodka. With no one to help you man the ship, it succumbed to the storm.
There you are, shipwrecked, alone, and desperate. You are not forgotten, though, your sisters are within eyesight! They’re sailing past your deserted, jagged, harsh island, where you lay broken, confused, and furious. Meanwhile, they’re all on a party cruise in calm waters, sipping fruity drinks and waving to you as they go by. They’re having THE BEST time.
Hate consumes you. Your winning smile twists and grits. Your eyes go blood red with rage, and blood. You popped a blood vessel. Your only determination now is to CRUSH SOULS. You chug the bottle of vodka mercifully left by the old deckhand and grab something to write on. Furiously you scribble every dark thought, every criticism, every FUCK YOU that your fevered, vodka soaked brain can conjure. Your language is as colorful as your pens, your soul as black as the storm you first sailed into. You jam the note into the empty bottle of vodka and hurl it towards the party cruise that your sisters are on, hoping it somehow hits and sinks the ship. It doesn’t, and you heave and exhausted breath, let out a frustrated scream, and fall asleep, hoping the vodka brings you better dreams than the nightmare reality placed you in.
You awake the next morning and a bottle washes ashore. In it, a note. You’ve been called to standards.
That longwinded metaphor, more or less, is how angry sorority emails get sent. Thousands upon thousands of these emails have raced at the speed of hate across sorority listservs over the years.
The country’s recent obsession with sorority emails brings nothing new to light for me personally. I was almost always involved in Greek Week and Homecoming for my chapter, which meant that I usually had a front row seat to at least one sorority girl mental implosion a semester. Hell, I even caused a few. YOU CAN’T TELL ME I CAN’T DRINK THIS TROPS AT GREEK WEEK FLAG FOOTBALL SHUTUP DEVIL WOMAN!
Greek Week at Mizzou can be an especially heated affair, apparently not unlike Maryland. One of the major aspects of the competition is a blood drive. Now, every campus has their own peculiar thing that’s a big deal, Mizzou’s happens (happened?) to be, among other things, the biannual blood drive that occurs every Homecoming and Greek Week. There are MAJOR points involved. If you want to win Greek Week or Homecoming then you better place top five in blood.
One of these Mizzou blood drives once actually held the Guinness world record for most units collected at a single drive in a single day. It’s a great cause, and the blood drive does a lot of good. According to the Red Cross, each person who donates saves four lives, which is great, because it means you can haze three pledges to death and still come out in the black. Right?
Also, the blood drive acts as a biannual STD test for Mizzou’s Greek system, albeit a broad and somewhat inaccurate one. True story: one of my fraternity brothers once got a call from the Red Cross a few days after he donated informing him that he might have HIV and should get tested immediately.
Rightfully freaking the fuck out, he confided this information to his roommate, who assured him everything was probably fine. Still, when a medical organization tells you that you possibly have AIDS, however slim the chances, there are few words that will comfort you. He asked his roommate not to tell anyone and sped off to the nearest clinic. His roommate, being the terrible friend and awesome fraternity brother that he was, immediately fired out an email on the listserv informing us all of our brother’s newfound AIDS. The next few days were a living hell for him, and heaven for us. Not only did he have to await the results of the test, but he also had to endure our RELENTLESS shit giving. We really had a field day with that. All fraternities should be so lucky as to have a brother with a light AIDS scare. The test eventually came back negative, by the way. Still, he’s forever unclean.
The excerpt at the beginning of this column is from the first sorority email I can ever recall going viral. The story was picked up by every news outlet imaginable: Fox, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, USA Today, etc. The email is so perfect. It’s angry, it’s threatening, yet somehow it’s almost redeeming since it’s about making sure all the girls donate their blood, even if it is more about earning Greek Week points than saving lives. In short, it screams “sorority.” Unfortunately my search for the full email yielded nothing, so we’re only left with these few damning sentences. Well, not really, I decided to fill in the blanks before and after, just for fun.
Listen up you little twats, I’m about to start shitting truth bombs on your brains like they’re a bunch of Baath Party hangouts!*
*Ed. Note: So topical for 2004
It’s been brought to my attention that some of you BONER KILLERS don’t want to donate blood for Greek Week! I’ve heard you saying things like, “Oh I hate needles” or “Oh I literally have chlamydia!” I DON’T FUCKING CARE! I don’t care about any of it!
I dont care if you got a tattoo last week. LIE. I dont care if you have a cold. Suck it up. We all do. LIE. Recent peircings? LIE. Even if you are going to use the ‘Do Not Use My Blood’ sticker, GIVE ANYWAY. We are not messing around. Punishment for not giving blood is going to be quite severe.
Let me put it like this: One way or another, you WILL bleed. I will have your blood. Mark my words. I don’t care if I have to wring out your FUCKING TAMPONS I WILL DO IT SO HELP ME GOD!
YOUR BLOOD BELONGS TO ME AND IT WILL FLOW LIKE A RIVER UPON MY COMMAND!
That seems about right.