She ain’t pretty. In fact, she makes the spider hole Saddam Hussein crawled out of look like an all-inclusive Sandals Beach Resort. She’s a glorified crack den. A shanty. A downright liability to all of those that step foot on her premises, but dammit, she was mine and I loved that beautiful disaster.
Now those of you with your manicured lawns and ivory columns just won’t get it. I don’t expect you to. You’ve been coddled in a graduate-funded cocoon with marble countertops and spiral staircases for too long, and honestly, I pity you. That mega-sized, three-storied, newly-tiled Mona Lisa of architecture that you call your frat castle is just one giant shell of emptiness that will never truly be a place you call home.
Sure, our rundown house isn’t as aesthetically appeasing or structurally safe as your monstrosity of superficiality, but it more than makes up for it in character. Each aspect of the house had a story behind it. Those mismatching, cum-stained couches in the living room? Yeah, we haggled some gypsy off Craigslist down to $20 for the set and even had him throw in the rusty, crooked basketball hoop that went through McClure’s windshield during Tropical Storm Sandy. That patio set on the deck? Just a drunken kleptomania score from the student housing apartment complex next door that we took on our way back from the bars on St. Paddy’s Day. Watching all three bills of Jerry hop that ten-foot wall with a lawn chair in hand being chased by security was majestic. How’d the window crack? Which one?
Off-campus fraternities are a hoarders wet dream. Nothing gets thrown out. We’re resourceful motherfuckers. Nowhere else can you see a broken down jet ski, a jello-stained inflatable pool, an old septic tank that a brother was convinced he could turn into a meat smoker, and the remnants of a twenty-foot paper mache volcano slowly disappear under a backyard of mile-high crabgrass. “Don’t worry, we’ll find a use for it eventually.” Empty beer cans and bottles litter the countertops and tables, closets become a graveyard for broken electronics, and cabinets overflow with the paper trail of unopened envelope after unopened envelope of every brothers’ unpaid dues since the dawn of the chapter. However, unlike everything else in the house, if you expect to find anything in the fridge, you’re shit out of luck. The frat fridge is as empty as the moral compass of Jared Fogel in the ball pit of a Chuck E. Cheese. You MIGHT find an occasional skunked beer, but it’s more than likely just full of decade old condiments.
The walls are peppered with holes — most of which are a direct result of stoppage time FIFA goals — yet the stray cat that Houdini’d his way inside the infrastructure five months ago and has been miraculously staying alive, driving every in-house brother insane with his clawing, can’t seem to squirm his way out of one to freedom.
Sorority-made rush banners are hung with thumbtacks in place of blinds, doors ripped off their hinges are now tables, and toilet paper is the most securely locked-up possession on the property.
Even the nicer aspects of these projects have their inherent flaws. That billiard table a few brothers chipped in to buy? It now has a curve because no two spots of the foundation are even. Same goes for ping pong. But you’ll never hear us complain. We simply adapt. This is the life we chose to live. Why did we embrace it to begin with? Maybe it’s something in our primal wiring, our blood, our DNA, where we find fundamental enjoyment slumming it like savages, finding beauty in the struggle. I’m not exactly sure, but what I do know is that I never slept better at night in my life. That house became a damn home..