One of my favorite things about being in a fraternity is our uncanny ability to turn any and everything into a competition. Whether it’s FIFA or beer pong, fraternity men love channeling the residual aggression from high school sports upon which our mediocre athletic ability never allowed us to fully capitalize. One of the most (or maybe least) memorable contrived competitions in which I competed was the infamous wine bag race known as the Tour de Franzia.
My first experience with the Tour came during a “membership education” event. After a few hours of character building workouts, we were divided into teams of 3 and an assortment of different flavors of Franzia were stacked across the room, with only one box of the coveted Sunset Blush resting in the dead center. The dash across the room for the boxes was reminiscent of an intoxicated running of the bulls, with each pledge vying for the Sunset Blush with the eagerness of a coed giving a blow job after drinking 2 bottles of wine. Unfortunately, my group was unable to secure the sunset blush, and, before we knew it, we were tearing open a box of a heavy red and preparing our stomachs for the onslaught that was about to occur.
Each team had an active as a captain, ours being the president — a man who hadn’t turned down a chance to drink since his Bar Mitzvah, and whose tolerance rivals that of a battle-hardened Russian. As such, we were shocked to learn that our fearless leader refused to drink that night, leaving us as fucked as the Toon squad if MJ refused to suit up. At this point, we knew we were up shit creek without a paddle, but, nonetheless, I grabbed the bag first and gave it a resounding slap. After a few turns a piece, the bag was halfway gone, but our weakest drinker, Timmy, was passed out in the corner incoherently mumbling the plot of Rambo 2, leaving Woody and myself to drink more recklessly than Pete Rose gambles in an attempt to get back into the game. Though the comeback mounted, our stomachs and livers suffered, and by the end we struggled to half swallow the wine before it came back out of us in the form of projectile vomit, relieving us of any semblance of a sense of shame in the process.
The Kobe-esque performance of Woody and I notched our team first place (or so those who remember the night tell me), while also giving me a convenient excuse to get shitfaced in order to combat my hangover and attend my 2 p.m. Art History recitation. My true takeaway from that night, other than to stick to beer, was reaffirmation that the competitive streak that used to drive me to stay after practice and work on my midrange jump shot still had its place, even in a society that tends to view any hint that a man has and is able to harness testosterone as a hate crime..