Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Greek Times

I just finished reading Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell.

Taylor Bell comes from a long line of Beta Zeta sorority sisters, who all expect her to pledge upon starting at the university. But Taylor has other plans: she's determined to give her family the proverbial middle finger and destroy the rich tradition they hold so dear by eschewing sorority life altogether.
However, Taylor's resolve soon melts when she falls in with a group of hilarious, ultra-saucy girls, who introduce her to all things Greek and soften her to the idea of joining. Resigned to the fate the Greek gods have dealt her, Taylor pledges Beta Zeta and embarks on a collegiate career filled with the kind of carousing sure to make any sorority sister proud.  (from the ad copy)

A coworker, who is a sorority aluma told me about it, so I read it.  For those who don't know, I wrote a book about my fraternity experiences.  Maybe someday I'll post chapters here.  I pledged Phi Kappa Sigma at Drexel University and transferred to Penn State.

Me Bartending at a fraternity social, 1987

I'm fascinated by this book.  I'd heard all the rumors about sorority life while I was in a fraternity at Penn State, but I was friends with very few sorority women.  For the most part, they ignored me, or looked at me like I was a maggot infested corpse.  And this despite me being a member of the "top fraternity on campus" as rated by the sororities.

I always wondered if they were warned away from me by fraternity brothers (I was a skinny little transfer student in a house full of jocks and ex-jocks) or if I was just that repulsive.  Or both.

Here's the thing- the brothers at the PSU chapter knew I was different.  They just didn't know HOW different.  I knew, but was burying it as deep as I could with denial, alcohol, and violence- you know everything I thought was Manly.

Manly?  At the fraternity house, July 2013

And maybe that difference kept us from really bonding.  These days I'm in semi-regular touch with less than five of the over 100 brothers I met at Penn State between 1986-88.  And one of THOSE just argues politics with me.  My Drexel pledge brothers- the ones I was supposed to be closest to my whole life?  I'm Facialbook friends with three out of ten.  We don't talk often.

Don't get me wrong- the ones I still speak to are people I respect and WANT to be in touch with.  They're great guys.  I wouldn't speak to them if they weren't.  Add to that the fact that they've taken my transition in stride.  It's just that there are so few.

Regrets?  I've had a few.

So I read this book, and I thought about a few things.  For example, if Wife and I had kids right after we were married, they would be college age right now.  One of my Drexel roomies has a son at PSU right now, and, according to facialbook, he's having an amazing experience.  (And it's uncanny how much the son looks like his father.  Downright spooky.)

I have a daughter.  I remember thinking while I was still in college that I would Never want a daughter to join a sorority.  Not that the choice would be mine.  How could I warn her away or forbid her?  After all, I went Greek in my college days.  It would be hypocritical.

I read this book and my first real impression is that the actives today get away with things we never would've dreamed of doing.  College antics from my day must seem Quaint to today's students.

Toga Party, 1988, Selfie 80s style. No, it's not me.

Remember, I was in college thirty years ago.  That would be like comparing my college experience to the experiences of college students in the 1950s.  Things have changed so much.  If this book is to be believed, college students have so much more sex and parties than we ever had.  They also have far more drugs than we had- and as I came up in the 80s, that's saying something!  I think about my ex-roomie's son at PSU, and the temptations he must face, but I know his parents raised him right, so I'm sure he's fine.

But what will college be like when my daughter goes ten years from now?  And what will Greek life be like?

I look at the headlines about date rape drugs and things we never did ("What?  you're so lame that you can't get laid when she's sober?  Loser!") and I'm afraid for my daughter.  I hope Wife and I can raise her right.  Of course as I currently rarely see her, my input is limited.

Yes, this scares me.

On another point, I wonder what it would've been like to be in a sorority back in my day.  I'll never know.  More regrets.

So anyway.  Dirty Rush.  Do I recommend it?  If you're Greek, it's a fun read.  If you're not, then it's not going to have the same impact.  I really enjoyed it though.  It could've been a little less predictable, but it was a fun read.

I know a lot of my Trans-sisters were Greek as well (Sirena and Amanda were in the same fraternity!).  If you want to send me a funny story or two, I'll collect them and post them if you wish.  Maybe we can make a book of OUR stories!

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