“Why are you wearing that?” the mother of his children demeaned as she shook her head, a judgmental hand firmly planted on her hip. “You look ridiculous.”
Roger Sr. was not about to be dismayed. Parents weekend was fast approaching and for the first time, his wife would not be making the trip. There would be no crying this weekend, no obsessing over their son’s diet, no hurried cleaning of his room. Young Sterling had turned 21 not a month before, and visions of teaching his son how to drink like a man, while acting like a child himself, danced before Senior’s eyes.
“Wearing what?” Senior replied with an unconvincing shrug. “I’ve had these clothes for years.”
“You look like a stupid frat boy,” their daughter muttered while rolling her eyes. Roger beamed and reached out to give her a fist bump that went unreciprocated. Rejected, he fought off the realization that she too would be attending college soon enough, kissed his wife goodbye, and threw his bag in the back in the back of the Porsche. This weekend would be the stuff of legend.
* * * * *
Arriving on campus was as glorious as always. Fall had arrived, and as the leaves died and fell from the trees, the leggings and yoga pants were in full bloom. Mrs. Sterling was still a babe in her own right, but it had been a long time since she was in her early 20’s. Now, he could look over the top of his sunglasses without getting hit from the passenger seat, and girls turned to look back as he passed.
“Still got it,” he smiled, turning up AC/DC and rolling the windows down as he convinced himself that it was him, not the car, which had caught their attention. Roger pulled up to the frat house, parked the coupe out front, and knocked on the door.
He stood on the porch, looking around and smiling at girls as they passed with his bag slung over his shoulder. The excitement rushed through his veins faster than his two extra large cups of coffee rushed toward his bladder. Impatiently, he reached out and rang the doorbell.
The door swung open and Senior was greeted by a surprised young man dressed in what would pass for his Sunday best, had it not been wrinkled. The guy sheepishly hid the empty beer can that he had just chugged behind his back as he shook his head, hoping for clarity.
“Uh…can I help you, sir?” the active asked, eying Senior suspiciously.
“What’s up, brother?” Senior replied, corny in the way only Dads can be. He extended his hand and gave the surprised and half drunk brother the fraternal grip. “Is Roger here?”
“Yeah, he is, but…” the brother muttered as memories of formal the night before beat their way back into his mind.
“I’m his dad,” Senior announced, as if it was necessary to clarify that he wasn’t just another college student. “I remember which room is his.”
The active brother watched the man make his way through a foyer full of morning drinkers with equal amounts of confusion and the anticipation of hilarity rushing through his polluted mind. The brother thought for a moment about calling out, preventing what was otherwise inevitably going to happen next. But instead, he took a quick glance at the sports car out front, grabbed a beer, and motioned for others to watch.
“Good morning, Junior!” old Roger proclaimed as he burst through the bedroom door. He could barely contain his excitement for the weekend that was sure to go down in infamy. Young Roger opened his eyes and stared up at his father in confusion. Had he overslept? Quickly checking his phone, he realized that it was only 9 am.
“Dad, I…” the younger Sterling muttered, as the impact of the night before and the awkwardness of the current moment hit his head like a freight train. The girl next to him opened her eyes as well, made sure the blankets were sufficiently covering her naked body, and then hid her head under them instinctively.
“Oh I’m sorry,” the older Sterling said out of obligation as he beamed with pride at his son. He turned toward the covered lump beside his son. “I’m Roger’s dad.”
“Dad, come on,” young Roger pleaded, but the awkwardness of the situation had caused him to lose his morning-after focus. Without warning, the son turned to the side and vomited violently onto the floor. A chorus of laugher erupted from the doorway, where a small crowd of brothers had gathered. The girl beside him quickly jumped out of bed, wrapped in the covers, grabbed her clothes, and sprinted to the bathroom. Roger Jr. remained ill and half naked behind.
“Don’t you worry about that,” Senior laughed, pointing to the puke and ignoring the girl. “That’s what pledges are for, right?” He scanned the room for the mini-fridge to find water. He opened it, but found only beer. “I’ll, uh, go grab you something to drink.” As he turned, Roger Sr. found himself a crowd in awe of what just had transpired.
“That was pretty awesome,” one of the older actives said, laughing. He reached out and gave Mr. Sterling the grip. “I’m Jack. Want a beer?”
“Sure, Jack,” Roger replied, returning the gesture. They already think I’m awesome, he proudly thought to himself. “Next one’s on me.”