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It was 6 a.m. on a brisk Sunday autumn morning, standing in a line shoulder to shoulder with my entire pledge class. The fraternity house was eerily quiet, as not a single brother had yet risen from their drunken slumber. We waited outside in the courtyard in a wasteland of crushed red solo cups and vomit from the night before.
The previous night was Bid Day. My chapter was, at the time, a rather rambunctious group of individuals with a soft spot for hard liquor. They had taken it upon themselves to purchase a fifth of Burnett’s for each of the new pledges, and had no problem with “helping” us finish them. When the clock struck 2 a.m., the party was immediately shut down and we were sent “anywhere but here,” according to the risk management chair. On our way out the door, we were informed to “be at the house at 6 a.m., otherwise don’t bother showing back up at all.”
So there we were, all lined up in the courtyard waiting around for our pledge trainer. It was about ten minutes before anything happened. The sliding glass door to the back of the house crept open, and a giant metal trashcan was carried out by the two assistant pledge trainers and sat before us. Another five minutes go by and finally our head pledge trainer, Alex, appeared.
“Welcome to the first day of pledgeship, gentlemen,” Alex said. “I’m glad you decided to make the two best decisions of your life. First, congratulations on going to the best university this great country has to offer. Second, making the decision to go Greek.”
At this point the two assistant pledge trainers began passing out matchbooks to each of us. “Gentlemen, each of you are receiving these matchsticks today. You will keep these on you at all times. Throughout the course of your pledgeship, you will receive more objects. These are essential to your becoming a brother.”
I get my matchbook and start to examine it carefully. It was one of those cheap 99-cent matchbooks with shit matches and my pledge trainer’s signature written across the top.
“If you lose a match, you’re fucked. You will lose a match for fucking up. Fucking up includes swearing in front of a lady, not having a cig or dip for a brother when requested, or if I just damn well feel like it!” Alex barked to us.
Alex then walked over to one rather fat looking red-faced freshman and asked to borrow his matchbook. Alex reaches inside and pulls out a single match. “So, to reiterate, what happens if one of your matches gets burned?” *lights match*
“YOU’RE FUCKED” we chanted in unison.
“Very good. And what happens if…” Alex asks as he reached inside the matchbook and pulled out an additional three matches… “ALL of your matches get burned?”
When he said this, he simultaneously proceeded to strike all three of the matches together, then, in what seemed like slow motion, lit this fat fuck’s entire matchbook on fire. This thing started to go up like a fireball in Alex’s hand and just before it got to his fingers he flicked it straight into the metal trashcan that was placed in front of us, and into the waiting gasoline below.
When the lit matchbook hit that gas, it looked like a mini Hiroshima had just exploded all over this poor kid’s dreams, as a mushroom cloud of fire erupted from the metal can. I could feel the heat singe my eyebrows as fire came rushing up from the bottom of the can placed only a few feet away from our line. We all just stared in silence as Alex stood there, towering over this guy who is absolutely terrified at this point, and he meekly replies to Alex, “You’re cut, sir.”
Alex backs away, looks him square in the face and screams, “WELL WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU STILL DOING HERE?!”
The kid is in complete disbelief. It was the first day of pledgeship. Literally not even half an hour into it, and already he was cut? He stammers, “Are…you…serious?”
Alex screams at the top of his lungs “GET THE FUCK OUT!”
The kid grabbed his backpack, and without saying a word, walked out the back gate. None of us ever saw him again after that. Alex turned back to address the rest of the pledge class. “Now, remember guys. Don’t be a creepy fuck like that dude was last night. Now clean the fucking house spotless. Go.”
Pledgeship was off to a good start..