I still remember the first time I heard the phrase that defines pledging. We had been “invited” to the house the day after bid night. Our pledge class wobbled over that morning, still weary from a night that will rival others as the best of our lives. We barely had time to wash the champagne and lip gloss from ourselves in time to arrive crisply at 10:00 a.m. for a morning breakfast after the bid party.
My roommate at the time looked over at me in a horrified gaze. “They’re fucking counting us, like cattle, dude.” They were, and then we heard it. Our soon-to-be pledge marshal looked right at us and just laughed. “YOU ARE SO FUCKED!” he chuckled, and he could not have been more correct.
Now, I’d love to sit back like a Vietnam veteran and tell you my horror stories, but that’s not what this is all about. Pledging is the best time that you will never want to have ever again, but it is a time where you do a lot of learning about yourself: who you are, who your brothers are, and how much long cut you can fit into your mouth. One of the most important things I learned was, despite how “fucked” we may have been, we were always protected. The actives at the time never really hated us (well, some did, but all of those older guys have a few screws loose). They had a free pass to put us through whatever hell they could dream up, but nobody outside those walls could touch us.
I remember it rather distinctly. It was late October and we were in the home stretch of pledging. The pledge class was a well-oiled machine. We knew the book like the back of our hand, we could get in reverse alphabetical order with our eyes shut, and I could “sit on the fucking wall” until the sun went down. We were granted a Friday night off — it may have been the only one we got all year — to go out to the bars with the actives.
Well into the night, I was startled by some fuckstick from another fraternity (a much lesser one, in fact) that began to refer to me as a “stupid Sigma roach.” Not a nice nickname to be given, but I’d been called much worse and just looked the other way. Just then, there was a huge commotion in which my pledge marshal, the man who had all but taken the breath from my lungs the past few months, had picked this douchebag up and dropped him like a ’90s Tyson opponent. We may have been roaches, but we were his fucking roaches.
I wouldn’t say I felt loved that day, mostly because the next morning I was cleaning the house floor with a toothbrush, but I did feel the sense of brotherhood that comes from being hazed. We may have been the lowest scum on the face of the earth, but we belonged to the actives, and they let every other asshole on campus know.
I came to a realization that day: Don’t worry about my pledges. I can assure you that they are more than adequately fucked. If you do feel the need to haze pledges that are not yours, that’s fine, but you will have an entire chapter of drunken, degenerate best friends to deal with, and you’ll be picking up your teeth from the sidewalk as you scamper away..