The sun beat down relentlessly on the Alpha house that afternoon, which would have been fine if not for the air conditioning having failed that day. Air conditioning or not, it was the first executive meeting of the fall semester, and there was business to be done.
Once everyone had arrived in the front room of the house, I called the meeting to order. Hopefully this would be a quick one. First up was Roberts, the risk management chair. He probably had some important points to make, but I didn’t pay much attention at all. Fire safety this, alcohol poisoning that, blah, blah, blah. By the time we got halfway around the table, Ramsey and Packard had already fallen asleep. I was done with this.
“Alright, boys, we’ve suffered enough. Does anyone have any important, pressing announcements they’d like to make before we end this back-alley abortion of an exec?”
Just like that, Jackman’s face lit up. He was our social chair, and a constant thorn in my side. His repeated skirting of the rules during spring semester had gotten us into a lot of tough spots with Greek Council and the local law enforcement, and seeing that grin on his face put genuine fear in my heart.
“Listen up, gentlemen,” he began. “Our rush shirts have always done very well, but what I have come up with is the evolution of the rush shirt.” He got up and began to pace around the room as he spoke. “What I am about to show you all will change everything. This is years ahead of what any fraternity has come up with before. Maybe even decades.”
Jackman then grabbed his backpack from under the table, unzipped it, and pulled out a wrinkled t-shirt. The shirt was baby blue, with a front pocket that bore our letters in white. He flipped it around to the back side, which was emblazoned with the words “Crushin’ Puss Since 1899” in block letters. I nearly vomited.
“Wait, wait, stop,” I said. “Is this some kind of joke? This was your big idea? Not only would we never put something like this out, but I’m actually very underwhelmed at the-“
“I’m not done yet. Weren’t you ever taught any manners? Anyway, the design, although fantastic, is only the beginning. Like I said, we have always made great rush shirts. Shirts. But why stop there?” He pulled another object out of his backpack, a koozie bearing the same message as the shirt. Then a pair of sunglasses. Then a water bottle. Then a poster. And on and on and on.
“You see, I thought of everything. Remember Coleman, our president back in ’07? He owns a graphic design company, and he was able to hook us up with a whole merchandising deal. It only cost four grand, which I’m sure the house can subsidize later, but that’s not the point. I took out ad space on the internet and radio, and right now I’m in talks with a company that can name a star “Crushin’ Puss.” Think about that. A star, out there in the solar system! I would say we can talk all of this over, but I was able to get rushed delivery for all the merchandise for free. Everything arrives on Thursday. Things will never be the same again, gents.”
With that, Jackman returned to his seat, that stupid grin still on his face. I was absolutely livid at this point. Not only had he gone behind my back with this whole thing, but he had also caused the energy of the whole room to change. Ramsey, sound asleep just two minutes before, had a tear in his eye and began to clap slowly. One by one, the rest of my exec board followed along until the room erupted in approval. They had been won over. None of them would have to deal with the furious voicemails from alumni, IFC, and the university. But there was nothing I could do at this point. The shitstorm was fast approaching, already kicking up little shit-waves on the horizon. I needed some air, so I got up to leave the room. Right as I was approaching the door, Jackman called out to me.
“Hey, what size shirt do you want?” Through gritted teeth, I responded, “Your family should be worried about what size coffin they’ll need for you.” I then walked upstairs and out onto our deck, where I pulled out a cigarette. Jackman was right about one thing. Nothing would ever be the same again..