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I, Fraternity: A Novel In Progress: Chapter3
Eta Iota Mu Fraternity House
At the first Eta Rush, was a banner advertising you to Rush Eta Iota Mu. Some refreshments covered one long table. One half was cold appetizers like a cheese and fruit platter and chips and on the other half, hot appetizers like mozzarella sticks and buffalo wings. On another long table were dozens of two-liter bottles of soda, cups, and a cooler filled with ice.
It was easy to separate the Rushees from the Eta brothers. The Rushees, just like me, had that scared-as-shit look on their faces, like their Nikes were snagged on some railroad tracks just as an oncoming train was speedily making its way around a bend while heading straight at them. One of them, Matthew Lowery, my future pledge brother who everyone will refer to as Mattie, approached me as I sat down within the perimeter of the room, battling with the idea of whether or not this was the right thing for me to do. To pledge or not to pledge? Isn’t that the real question here?
“Hey, what’s going on?” He asked while holding a clear plastic cup of Pepsi that was perspiring underneath his grip. I stood up.
“What’s up?” I said. giving him a nod.
“Nice meeting you,” we said simultaneously then followed with a brief laugh and then an awkward silence. We sat down. The first thing I noticed about Mattie was that his dark brown hair was a mess, like he just had wild sex out back where in which the girl was holding on to his hair to maintain balance. I almost laughed out loud while thinking about this.
“Well, I’m screwed,” Mattie said to me. He shook his head and took a sip.
“What do you mean?” I was trying not to smile.
“Both KGB and the Etas want me to rush them.”
“KGB?” I had no idea who they were.
“Yeah, Kappa Gamma Beta or KGB for short. They’re national.”
“I think I’ve seen them around campus.”
“They’re pretty big too. They got about seventy-five active brothers or something…” Mattie was in deep thought. His eyes were distant.
“So you’re screwed?”
“Yeah. The problem’s that my brother—my real brother Bobby—is KGB so chances are I’ll probably get a bid, you know, to pledge being that that I am a legacy. But the thing is that I want to become an Eta more than anything. Bobby doesn’t even have a clue that I’m rushing Eta too. If he finds out I’m even thinking about pledging someone other than KGB he’ll probably drive up from Long Island and kick my ass. I don’t even like them that much.” I thought about this a bit.
“Maybe in time, you’ll know what to do.”
“I might be getting a little ahead of myself. I’m under the assumption that I’m going to get a bid for both fraternities. There is an outside chance that I won’t get a bid from either one, who knows.”
“If you ask me, I don’t think your problem is really a problem after all.” Mattie turned his head and looked at me. I had his attention.
“Whaddaya mean?” Clearly, I could hear his Long Island accent. It was almost a whine.
“The thing is that you know what you want and know what you have to do but don’t want to do it, right?”
“What is this? Some Zen shit?” He chuckled to show that he was only half serious.
“No, think about it: If you get a bid from KGB and not from Eta, then you’re going to be disappointed, right?”
“And if you don’t get a bid from KGB and get a bid from Eta, you’re going to be really happy, right?”
“Do you want to know why?”
“Because it would be an easy conversation with your brother Bobby to tell him that you didn’t get a bid and so you’re going to join the Etas instead. No harm, no foul. ‘Yeah, Bobby I tried,’ you’d say, pretending to be upset over the matter. ‘In the end I guess I just wasn’t KGB material…Sorry.’ Think about it. You already made the decision to join the Etas. Now you have live with it and tell Bobby about it. You really don’t want to join KGB do you?” Mattie shook his head. “Then you have to tell him that. You’re vexed because you know that you have to tell him the truth in some point in time. The truth is that you want to be an Eta and not KGB and you know it’s going to break your brother’s heart. You don’t really have a problem, just a tough phone call you have to make.” A long silence ensued. After a while, Mattie turned and looked at me.
“Are you a psych major or something?” I laughed.
“No, I’m not. I guess I’m just good at reading people and interpreting their problems for them.”
“If you do get a bid and join the Etas, you should probably run for Chaplain.”
“What’s a Chaplain?”
“Well, Chaplain is part of the exec board with the president and vice president. Besides conducting ceremonies and prayers, he acts in confidence, an advisor for all of the brothers in the fraternity. He’s basically the glue that keeps the chapter of brothers together.”
“How do you know all of this?”
“Bobby told me everything.” After telling me this, I began wondering just how much Mattie knew about the fraternity. I wanted to learn more about them from Mattie, mainly because he was a neutral party and had nothing really to gain by letting me in on the conduct of a fraternity. Not that I didn’t trust them, but wanted a different perspective on things. As I said before, I wanted to find out as much as I could before I made a commitment only my heart deemed acceptable. My mind on the other hand, feared the unknown and so, was reluctant to climb aboard. I needed more exposure.
I got it the following Saturday at the Eta House in the form of a stripper named Sherry.
After the first three rushes thereafter, Eta rushes were strictly invites only. Upon leaving the rush simply called The Spaghetti Dinner Rush, Brother Ian slipped under my hand a white sealed envelope emblazoned with gold writing. When doing so, he didn’t say one word to me. The caption on the envelope simply read: Rush Eta Iota Mu. I took a look around and opened it very carefully. This must be really important, I thought as I unfolded the single piece of paper inside. Here is what it said:
Dear prospective Brother,
We are pleased to inform you that you have reached the next level of Eta Iota Mu Rush. From this point forward, our rushes are by invite only and are in the utmost confidence. On behalf of our Brotherhood, we have taken a keen interest in you and see great things in store for you in the near future. With a little bit of trust in us, we hope to make certain these things reach full fruition.
One of our Proud Brothers of our beloved fraternity will contact you very soon to inform you of the whereabouts of when we shall meet again. Until that opportune time, stay wary of your surroundings, focused on your studies, and ever patient until our next meeting.
The Brothers of Eta Iota Mu Fraternity
The letter struck a chord with me and I wasn’t exactly sure why. Maybe it was because the letter was so formal and for the most part, professional yet sincere. For the first time ever since attending the Eta rushes, I felt my commitment important to their cause, a bond if you will, to a Brotherhood I knew nothing of. However this may be, I was curious of whatever else the Brothers had in store and wanted to go further as soon as I finished the letter. I was curious on how the way in which one of their “Proud Brothers” was going to inform me of their next rush. It seemed to me almost hokey, yet I liked it. So far, they have built some trust in me—surely enough for me to go to their house unassisted. I knew just about every brother in the fraternity by name. So far they have made, if anything, a believer in me in their intentions. I’ve gotten comfortable around them and would like to know how else they were going to entice me to join the organization they recognize as being “the greatest fraternity in the world.”
The third rush fell on a Sunday, the famous spaghetti dinner, which was actually really good. I cannot remember the last time I willingly ate so much goddamn pasta and garlic bread. The following Wednesday while walking back to my dorm I spotted Eric walking with his girlfriend Jessica from Amy’s sorority who I met on the field several times. I waved to the both of them and said hello. Neither one said anything back. They didn’t even look at me. Instead, they just plowed forward, almost pushing me off the sidewalk and into the street as I fought to keep balance. What the fuck was that about?
© Copyright 2009 Ounheuane Dohn Paditsone. All Rights Reserved
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