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Before I tell this story, you should know that I wasn’t a terrible pledge. I took my hazing in stride and never complained. I competed in intramurals, pulled my weight when it came to bringing girls to the house, and learned my history like a good little lad. Did I fuck up? Absolutely. I was a pledge, after all, and that’s what pledges do. For the most part, though, I wasn’t completely useless. I was one of the smarter kids on the short bus that was my pledge class, which is why I was tasked with taking our fraternity’s deposit for formal to the hotel in order to secure an event room.
Since I had a few days before the money was actually due, I obviously didn’t take it to the hotel right away. Instead, I addressed more pressing needs:
2) Trying to stick my dick in Katie, a sweet Pi Phi pledge. All the men at my school were actively attempting to make sex with her.
A few pledge brothers and I were sitting in my dorm room, slamming Keystones and Kentucky Deluxe and having your typical alcohol-induced conversation, reliving our past sporting endeavors and female conquests. I texted Katie to see what she and her friends were doing that night. They were studying, which made sense because it was the middle of the week and midterms were right around the corner. Nevertheless, I was disappointed and wholly unsatisfied with Katie’s decision to be a responsible student, as were my amigos. After receiving that unfortunate news, one of my pledge brothers suggested hitting up a strip club.
I was hesitant at first, not because I didn’t want to go, but because I was running low on cash. This was the point in the evening where I went from “decent pledge” to “potentially blackballed in an instant pledge” due to alcohol intake, peer pressure, and overall bad decision making–and then I remembered I was in possession of an envelope stuffed with $1,000 in cash. I sure as shit wasn’t going to be the one to crush our dreams of seeing the Wednesday night talent at Jaguars, and I rationalized my decision by convincing myself I could take $600 from the formal fund and just have my dad send me whatever money I spent. No one would ever know it was missing. Pledge thinking at its finest.
With money that definitely wasn’t mine burning a hole in my pocket, off we went to the glorious bastion of debauchery and moral ambiguity that is Jaguars. I had only intended to spend around $100 of the money I brought, but once I got inside, something took over my brain. Was it the whiskey, the cocaine, or the sheer fact that I was really hoping to get laid that night? Whatever it was, as soon as I sat down, I turned into a kid at a candy store and threw money at everything. I filled up a stripper’s panties with so much lettuce that it looked like she was working with a full-on bush made of bills. I was a fucking king that night. I could do no wrong. The strippers loved it, my pledge brothers loved it, and, most importantly, my fucked up mind loved it. All was right with the world…until I woke up the next morning.
I was extremely hungover, and I reeked of a combination of baby powder, glittery lotion, and shame. I checked my pockets. You know that fear you get immediately in the pit of your stomach right before sheer panic initiates your flight-or-fight response? That debilitating fear that instantly overshadows any and all hope for your future? Yeah, that fear began to set in over me as I grabbed my wallet and realized how light it was. I opened it to find $60 staring back at me. Remember what we talked about earlier? Me being an okay pledge? Well, I just royally fucked up and threw that reputation right out the motherfucking window. After having a very brief panic attack, I realized, “Hey! No worries! One quick call to Dad and I’ll have that money in my bank account by COB!” Well, after my dad shockingly refused to send me the money since he’s a firm believer in not giving out handouts, I found myself in a mental battle:
“Do I tell the actives and hope they laugh it off?”
“Am I good looking enough to be a prostitute for a night? Do I even want to have sex with the riffraff that my college town has to offer?”
“Can I convince some poor soul that my Adderall is worth $80 a pill?”
“Do I have time to plan and execute an ‘Ocean’s 11’-style heist, and depending on how successful the heist is, can I purchase a Jaguars of my very own?”
I had nothing. I was out of options. I had no choice but to turn myself in to the chapter president. He would understand, right? Surely he’s been here before. I sent him a text to avoid any sort of verbal conflict. All the text said was, “Hey, so I displaced a little of the deposit money in a stripper’s cooter. In my defense, I thought I could write it off as philanthropy for helping put her through community college.” Seconds after I hit send, my phone was ringing and my ears were being raped by a collection of obscenities. All of the obscenities, actually. Obscenities I had never even heard before. Obscenities that only a seasoned ear-rapist would be aware of. He finished berating me by saying, “See you at the house at midnight and I swear to God if you haven’t turned in the full deposit, you might as well head to Mexico and hide for the rest of your life.” He’s a real nice guy, though. I swear.
Here I was, sitting in my dorm with roughly 14 hours to not only find a way to get $540 in cash, but also turn it into the hotel and make it back to the house. It was a tall task, but I’d like to think that having been ferociously hazed for half a semester helped me to somewhat keep my cool and stop me from tapping out and just quitting. I called one of my pledge brothers from the previous night and told him, “Fuck class, we’re driving to the nearest casino. I’ve got some poker to play.” Like any sensible 18-year-old kid who thinks he’s the next World Series of Poker player, I grabbed the rest of the deposit money, a fresh can, a friend, and headed to Durant, Oklahoma.
Now, I’m a decent poker player. I’ve won quite a bit more than I have lost. But I had never been in a literal do-or-die situation while playing. My butthole was so puckered up the whole ride to the casino and during the first few hands that I actually think I didn’t have a butthole for those couple of hours, and that it just fused over. This was because I was scared shitless of losing the cash, and also because of what was probably going to be stuck up my (hopefully still fused) asshole later that night in the basement if I didn’t win all that stripper money back.
My nerves definitely showed in the first couple hands. It’s hard for me to determine if this was due to my actual nerves or from my ever-worsening hangover, but my hands were very shaky and sweat was trickling down my temples. I honestly think that worked to my advantage though, as everyone’s first impression of me was that I was a weak player. The “sharks” smelled blood in the water, and they wanted to feast on my chip stack. However, the great thing about playing at these slapdick Vegas-wannabe casinos is that the talent of the poker playing degenerates is about as good as the talent level you’d find at a strip club at noon on Tuesday.
After the first ten or so hands, I found myself up $45. At this rate, I was going to need twelve hours to get back all the money. I began checking the room for security cameras, as I was preparing to implement the heist my pledge brother and I semi-formulated on the ride up. Danny Ocean almost certainly would not have approved. I remember seriously contemplating the life decisions that had led me to that point, scrutinizing every flap of the butterfly wing that led me to that moment–that moment where I was “seriously” contemplating robbing a casino. And then I looked at my cards: king-10 suited. “This could get interesting,” I remember thinking to myself, as my mind drifted back to what was actually going on in front of me.
The old geezer sitting across from me raised a smooth $20 pre-flop, to which I called. Ace-queen-seven came. Hoping the ace would scare people off so that I could pick up an easy pot, I bet $80, to which the geezer called while the rest of the table folded. Next card was a jack. I was about to milk this fucker for all he was worth (which was actually probably all the chips he had on the table). After checking, he bet $100 and I came over the top with a $100 raise. He rose again with his remaining $400. I pushed my chips in faster than my average time to have sex. He flipped over trip sevens, making me about a 7-1 favorite to win. The next few moments felt like an eternity. The dealer flipped the river: a meaningless four of hearts. I did it! I fucking did it!
In the matter of an hour, I had won back all the money I lost plus some ($705 total to be exact). I wanted to stick around and earn some more, but thankfully my pledge brother pulled me away from the table. The drive back couldn’t have been any sweeter. It was like the weight of a Phi Mu had been lifted off my back. After turning in the deposit, I spent the next few hours sleeping and watching Netflix until heading to the house for my midnight “meeting.” I walked in like I was the baddest motherfucker in the whole damn state. After informing the four brothers who were there to meet me that I had turned in the full deposit, I went on to endure some of the worst hazing I had ever encountered.
Like I said, I wasn’t a terrible pledge. I was (am) a degenerate gambler with a stripper problem. Two totally different things..
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