Fraternity Life, Episode 2: Pledges Come and Pledges Goby Brent Wolgamott -- 03/08/2003
Before beginning this week's recap, I must address some criticism that I received last week from numerous readers of my previous column. As an aside, if you liked last week's column, or don't care about the following points of order, then please skip down a few paragraphs. Now, in reference to those of you highly critical of my take on the Grant-dating-a-brother's-ex-girlfriend fiasco, I do want to say that I didn't find Grant's actions to be particularly brilliant. As another reader put it to me, if he's trying to get into the fraternity, it "isn't exactly smart" doing what he did. I agree. I would have waited until I got my foot in the door, then started seeing her. I was merely saying that I didn't think that Grant should be denied a bid solely because Adam (the brother in question) got his feelings hurt.
Also, a few conservative readers got their dander in a tizzy because of my obscure reference to Clarence Thomas. Short summary: in regard to a pledge's real life twin brother voting for him, I said "I haven't seen this much of a slam-dunk vote from someone since Clarence Thomas 'unbiasedly' listened to oral arguments in Bush vs. Gore." To clarify: Justice Thomas has the distinction of being one of the most conservative-leaning (read: Republican) justice on the current Court. I mean, he is right of right. Las Vegas wouldn't even cover the spread on whether or not he would vote for Bush. Case-in-point for those disbelievers: he's so conservative that in a recent case involving a potentially wrongfully imprisoned African-American man, the vote was 8-1 in favor of the man. Any guesses as to who was the one holdout? Yep, it was Thomas. The rest of the Court noted that it was plainly obvious that, when a Texas prosecutor eliminated 10 of a possible 11 African-Americans from a jury pool, something was rotten in the state of Texas. Thomas disagreed. While the majority (even ultra-conservatives Rehnquist and Scalia) noted, "happenstance is unlikely to produce this disparity," Thomas said it was "speculation." And folks, this is the one African-American on the panel. I rest my case - and you have my email if you disagree. But really, did you think he was going to vote for Gore?
And finally to those readers who felt that last week's column was too risqué, too tawdry, and frankly, too gay - get over it. In the meantime, most of you didn't come here to read about politics or anything else other than the great trash that is Fraternity Life. Onward!
As you'll recall, last week's episode ended with our favorite frat boys, Sigma Chi Omega, eliminating 13 of the possible 18 rushees. Who do these boys think they are, eliminating that much of the pool…Clarence Thomas?? (I can see the mail coming now…) Fortunately, at the start of this week's episode, our fraternity president, Colin (aka: Grandpa), tells the brothers that he moves they lower the original vote-of-confidence mark of 90% to 80%. They agree, and this new number-finagling yields 11 pledges. I must insert here that Colin should really sue the MTV people who did his lighting for this meeting. In that aura, he truly lives up to his name "Grandpa" - thinning hair, ghostly white skin, and forehead wrinkles (at age 22? I ask you!). Colin, get thee to a botox center and pronto!
The next morning, we find the brothers bundling up their bid offers, attaching a candle to each one. They're either going to light the candle or insert it somewhere - that, gentle reader, I leave to your imagination. In a nice show of unity, the brothers approach each of the soon-to-be pledges' doors and offer the bid. For some of the pledges that receive their bids later, it looks more like Death is approaching the door - who gave these people help with lighting? Of the 11 who receive their bids, we see Earl (who you'll recall was a hoot last week, calling a fellow rushee's girlfriend a hands-down "bitch" behind his back), Matt, Mike (who received a vote of confidence from fraternity alum Ron G… make a note for later on), Steve (the one African-American in a decidedly pale fraternity pledge class), Ron T., Ron M. (Ron M. informs us he "was on the dumper" and is glad he got outside in time; thank you, Ron M., for that nice visual), and Alex, fraternity secretary Adam's twin brother (he of the aforementioned bitch girlfriend). Supposedly there are 11 pledges, but we see only seven. One person who we also see, but who didn't get a bid, is Grant. Frankly, this saddens me. Every reality show needs a good villain. Some of the brothers didn't like Grant, but it would have made for good television. I, for one, am saddened. Pass me a Kleenex, damn it. Okay... I'm over it.
At this point, it starts becoming clear to me who MTV is going to focus on, as Alex is shown lamenting his sorrow that his girlfriend Lindsay (the aforementioned bitch) does not support him pledging the fraternity. Alex whines (in a surprisingly sexy way) that he "can't even think straight" (I'll take a pass on that zinger, thank you). He is a bit overdramatic at this point, telling us he's having second thoughts, and then proceeds to vomit. Wow, is this boy whipped or what? Not only that, but he takes the liberty of vomiting in the drinking fountain. Ugh. This might be enough to disqualify him from winning Honorary Gay Boy of the Week. I would also like to take note of MTV's adding the very Dr. Zhivago-esque music as Alex is telling us his sob story. Note to MTV: I thought this was Fraternity Life, not Days of Our Lives! Where are my naked and dancing fraternity boys? I don't recognize this show.
We're on to Pledge Night, where the rushees who received bids can come to the fraternity and accept their bid if they so choose. Now we're introduced to fellow pledges Tim, Jarreau, and Paul. I'd say something interesting about them if I could find something, but alas, I cannot. Note that we have only met 10 boys. I can't find the 11th just yet. Next, Pledge Matt wants to talk to President Colin privately. He tells Colin that he's a bit worried that he won't be able to keep pledging, because his parents are "coming down" to the school, and will likely yank his college money if he pledges. He wants Colin's support. Colin obliges, and gives him his cell phone number so his parents can talk to Colin if they want reassurances. The pledges are told they can accept their bid by coming into the fraternity for their last night of freedom. Pledging is to start tomorrow at 7AM. The pledges are told to get in order from shortest to tallest, and they are led into the house. At this point, MTV superimposes words on the screen to the tune of "secret ritual, cameras not allowed." I shiver with glee - then the rumors must be true! Brother Mike, the "new member educator" of the fraternity tells us that there's a "lot of secret stuff that goes on" so he really can't say, but it involves a lot of male bonding rituals and things like that. Hmmmm… at this point I consider awarding the entire fraternity Honorary Gay Boy of the Week! Then, Pledge Tim comes on (he speaks!) and tells us that he has no idea what is going to happen, but that he hopes they party it up and have a great last night of freedom. And party it up they do, as MTV whisks us to the bar where the boys hang out, drink, dance, flirt, and generally seem to be having a gangbusters time.
The next morning, it's very early (6:48AM) and we see that some pledges decided to sleep on the porch, rather than be late for their 7AM meeting. Not surprisingly, some of the pledges are late - by a long shot. The brothers send the pledges off to find their missing comrades, and Brother Mike tells us that they've never had pledges late on the first day. Wow, really? I find this hard to believe. After a few stragglers arrive (but not all 11 pledges), Alex tells us that since some people were late, they all have to clean the entire house from top to bottom. Note to Alex: sweetie, I think you would have had to clean the house anyway; the brothers just used this as an excuse.
Earl tells us that this morning, he noticed, "the brothers live in absolute filth." (He just now noticed??) At this point, we are treated to our very first musical interlude-meets-action sequence, a la Scooby-Doo. Remember when Scooby and the gang were running away from a monster and a groovy '70s song would play over. It would usually end with a loud crash, as the gang slammed into each other, or something like that. In much the same vein, we're given the pledges in a fast-forward montage of cleaning. After it's over, Earl notes that his "hands smell like ass" and then he goes and sniffs them again. Thank God they kept this boy around. Finally, Ron T. and Ron M. (aka: Dweedle Dumb and Dweedle Dork) arrive just when the cleaning is over, and the present pledges voice their disgruntlement over the fact that they had to clean the entire house while Dumb and Dork slept.
Magically, it's now nighttime and we're at a football game with only the brothers. Ron G. (our alumni brother who vouched for Pledge Mike to the fraternity) is informed in a telephone call from Colin that Pledge Mike actually belonged to another fraternity, and lied to them about it. Ron G. can't understand why a guy (that being Pledge Mike) would disaffiliate himself from another fraternity at another school and join this one. RING! Wow, it's the Clue Phone again, and it's for Ron G. Hmmm… let's see, why on Earth (note the sarcasm) would a boy do that? TO GET ON MTV, bozo!
Next, the pledges are shown the official MTV… er…. Sigma Chi Omega Pledge House. Can we just stop here a moment? No, I'm serious, can we just stop here and never go back to the brothers' SCO house? That place is a pigsty, even cleaned up. The Pledge House has been given a Real World-like makeover. Honey, they have carpet, fabulous color on the walls, their own matching beds and sheets, Internet connection (w/ flat screen monitor), and even a boom-boom room (read: a tawdry place where they can get together with girls for gratuitous nudity). The room looks like it was done in an early Debbie Does Dallas motif. In other words, it does the trick.
At this point, we're informed that Matt has de-pledged, because his parents weren't buying the load of bull he and Colin were trying to sell them. Jake (last week's winner of Honorary Gay Boy of the Week!) makes a much-overdue appearance and explains that he "can definitely sympathize with Matt and his situation." Jake says this shows that Matt was sincere and doing this all for the right reasons. You go, Jake, with your props for Matt! (Note to MTV: Feature this boy more prominently next episode.)
Next we get even more Alex (not that I'm complaining), blabbering to his girlfriend Lindsay (the aforementioned bitch). Alex finally makes a stand and tells Lindsay he is finally doing something for himself. You go, boy! It is for this reason that I officially crown Alex with Honorary Gay Boy of the Week. Frankly, there weren't many contenders. However, this shouldn't take away from Alex. He wins for finally standing up to Lindsay (the aforementioned bitch); for his drama queen tears when he was worried about his relationship; for showing us a little chest action, slyly leaving his shirt unbuttoned in interviews; and frankly, for hogging the spotlight on this episode, which all gay boys love to do (including me).
Back to the episode, Ron G. finally has it out with Pledge Mike, confronting him with his new knowledge about Mike's previous fraternity. Ron sends Mike off with his tail between his legs after a good tongue lashing, and now we're officially down to nine of the original 11 pledges. Then Ron T. and Ron M. drop out, citing "irreconcilable differences" (read: they just can't cut it). So we're left with seven pledges.
Cue my man George, the fraternity's official Pledgemaster (and quite dreamy), who informs the pledges in his usual bad ass manner that the house isn't theirs yet, and they can have no alcohol from now till initiation (if they get initiated). Pledge Paul comes on to tell us he's nervous, because this is the first meeting with his Daddy… er…. Pledgemaster, and he wants "to make a good showing." Also, the Assistant Pledgemaster (who knew there was one?) Brian comes on to tell us that these boys won't be initiated until they get to know the brothers and learn what the brothers want them to know. Brian is a cute little fireplug himself; I see an award in his future (if he's lucky). Pledgemaster George makes everyone get down and do "push-ups," and I used quotation marks around the word "push-ups" because when these boys do push-ups, it ain't push-ups. Folks, I know it's hard to envision your humble columnist in Army Basic Training - but that's where I was for 10 long weeks. I know how to do a push-up, believe me. I can also wrap my legs behind my neck, for those interested. Ba-dum-bum. Anyway, these boys are horrible. None of them do it the right way; with half of them, their butts are in the air so high you'd think they were auditioning for a part in a gay porn movie. As my old Drill Sergeant Dawkins said to me back in the day when I totally sucked (no jokes, please): "Priiiiiiiivate Wolgamott, haven't you done one push-up yet?" Ah… those were the days.
Next week: Pledge Earl apparently needs driving lessons, and Pledgemaster George gets into it with Pledge Steve. Ta-ta!
Brent Wolgamott is a sophomore at North Carolina State University, majoring in chemistry. He enjoys tennis, running, and reality TV. He was also once a contestant on his favorite show, The Price is Right, and won over $8,000 in prizes. After completing his stint in the U.S. Army, he met the love of his life, McCrae Hardy, and he lives with him and their two cats, Shelby and Frank, in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also a member of the board of the local chapter of the ACLU, working to protect your rights. Brent always loves to hear your thoughts on his writing, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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