I’ll never forget that Friday morning. My mind was racing at the time. Do I drop the backpack full of booze to ensure my escape, or do I risk it? I decided it’d be best to drop the added weight and bolt for the truck waiting for me as fast as I could. I was lucky enough to make it, but as I sat in that truck bed, I turned around to see that my pledge brother, Cheesestick, had not been so lucky. He was pinned down by our pledge master and another active. I could see the fear in his eyes as his image became smaller and smaller in the distance. “It won’t be the same without him this weekend,” I heard one of our other pledge brothers say. I told them it was his own fault for spilling the beans to his big brother the night before.
Flashback to three weeks prior. Our pledge class had made the executive decision: It was time to go missing for a weekend. We all decided that going north to Norman with a Winstar pitstop was the best idea. And so it began. The weeks of coded messages, buying alcohol to supply us for the trip, reserving hotel rooms, and praying. A hell of a lot of praying. This was the way the Pledge Escape Weekend was supposed to be done. It was a time-honored tradition in my fraternity — one weekend towards the end of pledgeship, the whole class would secretly plan to go rogue for a weekend. To get away from the mindless pledge tasks and get hammered drunk in another city, free of the proverbial shackles. If an active caught you while you were on the run trying to leave, you were fucked. It was like war.
There are three keys to being successful in your away weekend planning and execution: secrecy, communication, and fear. The first is an easy one. You can’t run around blabbing to everyone you know that you all are planning your escape. Not even your parents can know. I’ve heard stories about guys telling the girl they were with about it, only for the girl to tell her big, who would then report that to an active. So no one must know. Secondly, when it comes to secrecy, this means that you guys need to come up with some code (do it in person and not through a group text) that only you know about, so when an active randomly checks your phone, your words are still safe.
Communication is the next key. If one of your pledge brothers isn’t clear about something, you’re leaving him out of the loop. And thus, could be leaving him behind to be subjected to the wrath of the actives who are looking for a pledge ride home from the bars on Friday night. Always be sure that everyone in the class is on the same page.
Lastly, there is fear. The fear that everything will come crashing down, and you will be caught. The fear that some information leaked. This fear is what drives backup plans. Rarely, your first plan for Escape Weekend will run its course and you’ll need to figure out a plan B, or even C, to get you to the promised land — which is exactly what happened to me on the Friday morning of my Escape Weekend.
As I sat in my dorm, prepping with Cheesestick, he asked me what our plan was to get away. Four of our guys were to be waiting outside of the rec center with instructions to leave no matter what at 9:00 a.m. sharp. All texting communication was cut off the night before just to play it safe. And that’s when Cheese hit me with a bombshell: He had drunkenly told his big brother what we had been planning for weeks the night before. Fuck. I knew we had limited time and had to call an audible from pretending to go to class to straight running for it. As we stepped foot outside of my dorm, there they were headed in our direction. I did the only thing I could think of doing. I ran. Thank God I was wearing my Nikes or else I would have suffered the same fate that cost us seven members of our pledge class.
We lost a lot of good men out there on that crisp, sunny morning. But the sweet victory of getting away for a weekend of drunken fun and no worries was satisfying to us all who made it out alive..