Rushing Around in College

Anyone observing my behavior when I was 20 years old would probably conclude that I was attending college in order to learn how to be stupid. At least, my behavior was stupid'I lived my life as if I expected that upon graduation I would get a career as an actor in beer commercials.

One of the first things I did upon arriving on campus was join a fraternity, which was immediately beneficial in preventing me from having any kind of adult perspective on my actions. It's difficult to see any immaturity in your own behavior when the senior class is at the living-room window mooning passing traffic.

The country was at that time experimenting with a bizarre law that legalized alcohol for 18-year-olds, under the theory that if they are old enough to be tried as adults for breaking into liquor stores, they should at least be able to drink the evidence. Many of the great thinkers of our time thought this law was a great idea, philosophers with names like Coors and Anheuser, and the country exuberantly embraced the concept until it turned out that giving an irresponsible person a drug that makes him even more irresponsible was about as sensible as having a National Riot Day. I explain all this lest you think we were indulging in illegal activity, which we weren't, unless it was illegal to fire bottle rockets at the Phi Delt house, and then I suppose we were.

Despite my study habits I eventually became a sophomore, which meant I could help administer 'rush,' the formal process wherein we selected only the finest of young men to join our fraternity. Our criteria were very strict: To obtain a 'bid' to join us, you had to be (a) the direct descendent either of a member of the same fraternity or of one of the first three people off the Mayflower, (b) a person of high academic achievement, such as having graduated from high school, or (c) breathing. Basically we had to have new members or we would cease to exist as an organization, and if we ceased to exist as an organization the alumni would quit sending us money to replace the upstairs carpet, which we always wound up spending on beer that usually was spilled on the upstairs carpet.

During rush, a gaggle of frightened-looking freshmen would be ushered into the living room while the upperclassmen sang songs that implied that if you didn't join our fraternity you would wind up sleeping with barn animals. Then we all applauded and cheered for about ten minutes, as if we'd never in our lives seen anything more wonderful than a bunch of former high-school students standing in front of the fireplace, fidgeting and twitching and trying to make sense of our lyrics. Comprehension was made even more difficult by the fact that our membership was divided over what the lyrics actually were, with everyone singing their own version.

Then our president would give a speech about what it was like to be a man, of which we knew nothing because we were college students, and why everyone should join our fraternity: We had the best Carpet-Replacement Committee meetings, and besides, you wouldn't want to be a Phi Delt because all of their windows had been shot out by bottle rockets. It was also stated that a lot of women often spent the night at our fraternity house, and we all chortled and winked and nodded at this even though it was true only if you took into account our house mother, who was 76 years old and probably not the sort of woman the freshmen were picturing in their minds.

Then we broke up into groups and focused on individual students the way hungry lions will isolate zebras from the herd. Eventually, some of the freshmen would agree to pledge our fraternity because they'd been turned down by every other house, and then we'd take them upstairs and show them how to shoot bottle rockets.

I was reminded of this whole ritual the other day because I received a nice letter from the rush chairman of my fraternity.

Apparently they need money to replace the upstairs carpeting.

~ Bruce Cameron ~
Copyright © 2010
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[ by W. Bruce Cameron Copyright © 2010 ( -- {used with permission} ]

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