Stories From My Father: Merry Christmas

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Stories From My Father: Merry Christmas

Like some of you, I have a father who was in a fraternity. I was also lucky enough to hear some of his crazy stories over beers during dinner with a pledge brother or two of his. Most of these stories had to do with living in the house, pledging, and general fraternity shenanigans. I’ve decided it’s time you heard about the infamous Christmas party that happened the year after the house burned down. (Read about it here.)

The house had been restored to its former glory after the summer, and the fraternity was back to its usual debauchery. It was the time of year when the brothers were focusing on the Christmas spirit (and Christmas-themed spirits) and ignoring the impending doom of exams like it was the clap. Everyone knew it was time for the annual Christmas sweater party at the house because the risk manager’s stomach ulcers started to flare up. This was the time of year when the brothers could get away with anything in the name of holiday cheer.

From the start, the whole thing was FUBAR. The pledges were tasked with setting up throughout the week, but given no budget for anything other than alcohol. Whenever one of those poor bastards would go ask about it, every brother would answer, “figure it out, pledge.” Their first task was to get two trees: one large enough for the front hall, and a smaller one for the basement. This was simple enough. A couple of them scoped out the trees during the day. They drove out to a farm and cut down the two trees at night, but what they didn’t know was a rival fraternity’s pledges were on their way to do the same thing. The pledge class president told my dad, “Well, the other pledges showed up and tried to cut down the tree we picked out, which was the only good-sized one, and we argued. Tom then got the grain alcohol out of his trunk (he had been saving it for the party) and dumped it on the road in front of the other guys. Then he flicked his cigarette and set the fucking stuff on fire.” The other house’s pledges left pretty quickly after that. Then my dad’s fraternity’s pledges put out the fire, cut down the trees, and headed home.

Their next task was getting ornaments, wreaths, and other Christmas decorations. The pledges thought up what I only can assume was their idea of an “Ocean’s Eleven”-style robbery. It was going to take place the night after the tree mission. The town had just decorated the main streets with everything the party needed, and the district attorney at that time still adhered to the policy of “boys will be boys” when it came to prosecuting. They figured, “Hell, they can’t catch all of us at the same time, right?” The actually creative part of this plan was that they wore shirts and jackets with a rival school’s logo on it. They donned their disguises and went full-on 1992 Los Angeles riot on the Christmas decorations. They stripped five blocks on Main Street bare like the Grinch in less than 15 minutes, drove all the way to the other campus to throw a few odd pieces in the lawn of some fraternity there, and drove back before anyone even knew what had happened.

Now it was time for the party, and the house looked like a Burl Ives Christmas wet dream. All the pledges dressed as elves, reindeer, or Tiny Tim. The brothers donned their best Christmas sweaters. (I wore my dad’s old sweater from this party to the one my fraternity had recently–it still pulls.) The party got started quickly and soon, the ratio was so unbelievable that even some of the pledges were hooking up with sophomores (and not the kind that could stand to lose 10 pounds, as my dad put it). There were also girls from a rival school’s nursing program (same school that got blamed for the robbery). The brothers who invited these girls figured that nursing students wouldn’t shock easily and be more willing to do “unladylike deeds.” Unfortunately, the one attractive girl who was invited brought not so attractive friends (not, like, “well let me have two more then I’ll do it, but only if she does all the work” unattractive, I mean “man the fucking harpoons” unattractive).

So the brothers got a better idea of what do with their guests. They brought the girls downstairs to the “VIP” party. The girls were horrified by what they saw when they got there. The brothers had set up a Christmas tree covered in condoms and holiday-themed sex toys (I’m going to assume candy cane-striped objects that aren’t candy canes and leave it at that). The brothers sat the girls down and said, “We’re getting drinks, be right back.” My dad never got the full story about what happened next, but suffice to say, there was shouting and the sound of the hose in the basement going off, followed by shrieks and guys laughing. One of the brothers turned to the nearest pledge, pointed to the basement, and said, “Get them out of here and back to whatever magic bridge or cave they were guarding.” (Shit you not, word for word what he said.) The girls left out the back way, and the party went on late into the night–but it didn’t end there.

The last day before my dad left for Christmas break, he checked into the school paper to turn in a last draft to his editor. In the course of being a journalism and poly-sci major, my dad had learned to read type upside down as well as if it was right side up. As he was shooting the shit with his editor, he saw a letter sticking halfway out of the unread pile of mail (but opened and laid out by a secretary). It went something like this: “At [my dad’s fraternity]’s party last weekend, we were disgusted with the kind of behavior we saw.” It was from the nursing students and it listed everything that would send a man to hell with a grin on his face. The worst part was that everything they wrote was true. My dad had two thoughts go through his head:

Thought one: “Fuck…”

Then he read something about himself. While the girls didn’t name him, they gave a damn good description of him and what he was doing with a girl on the back patio.

Thought two: “Double fuck…I should call that girl again. Later, though–I have to take care of this.”

When his editor looked away, my dad snagged the incriminating document and tucked it in his coat. The editor never saw it, and any pending shitstorms had been averted. As for the letter, my dad had it framed and hung it in his room in the house every year he lived there. He still won’t let me read it–his words were, “If I ever need a good laugh, I’ll let you read it.” Christ, I hope that day comes soon.

Merry Christmas, assholes.

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