The frathound. More than just man’s best friend, he’s been adopted and fully integrated into the fraternity culture. Posting up on front porches, fishing for dimes, afternoon dove hunts, he does it all. And unlike slapdick pledges, you can always count on him. Looking down from the hierarchy of respect, the frathound sees pledges, sratties and JIs. You’re thinking about yours right now, aren’t you? Nostalgia is setting in with memorable images throughout your collegiate life. Good times, huh? Unfortunately, this isn’t a happy tale. I want to tell you all about Duke. Duke was a handsome, proud, hung-like-a-great-dane, calm in demeanor german shepherd that lived at our frat house. He belonged to our chapter president at the time. As the #1’s right hand hound, he was basically an honorary exec member, an extension of our president if you will, and enjoyed similar respect. He slept in the president’s quarters, had the run of the house, received plenty of attention, and was treated like a brother. What about his quality of life, though? Did he embrace the daily debauchery, inner-familial abuse, and committed alcoholism? Or did Duke succumb to the fraternity lifestyle? The following story occurred two years before my pledge semester, and I hope it’s still told today. The story is relayed through several eyewitnesses and has become legend.
Here’s the thing, he wasn’t a happy frathound. Frat life took its toll on ole Duke. He wasn’t crazy about what was going on in his environment. He was frightened by loud noises, hated belligerent assholes, didn’t support hazing, and secretly had an affinity for pledges. It’s like he empathized with them. Some speculate that Duke had a troubling puppy-hood. Rumor has it Duke would head to his bedroom during hazing sessions, and his faint whimpering sounds could be heard intermittently between the shouting. It all came to a boiling point for Duke one fall Wednesday afternoon at the house. The night before a chapter meeting was held, as usual, followed by what has been described to me as an “aggressive” pledge lineup. Conflicting accounts exist about what actually went on that night with the pledges, but whatever it was, it certainly had a lasting effect on Duke.
The Wednesday after the chapter meeting and pledge lineup was an unseasonably cool day at the house, but the sun was out and the brothers started boozing early. What started off as a friendly six-pack run to the store transitioned into a 20-person get-together, which eventually turned into a full-on afternoon rager. The pong table was buzzing, the music was blaring, the alcohol was plentiful, and there must have been over 150 people there at one point. The ruckus was enough to disturb Duke beyond a level anyone had seen. It was the classic straw/camel’s back scenario. As the story goes, Duke awoke from his midday nap, slowly strolled out into the main foyer area, looked to his right out the back door and into the backyard, then slowly turned to his left toward the front door and porch area. At this moment, he began a short jaunt up the stairs. This should have been alarming because Duke never went upstairs. Everyone was too belligerent to think anything of it.
People were hollering, drinking, carrying on in the front yard and porch area, when suddenly Duke appeared on the ledge of the second floor balcony (this balcony had no railing). Everyone’s attention immediately diverted to Duke, who was clearly dispirited. At this moment, Watkins noticed Duke from inside the house as he was leaving his 2nd story bedroom. It was obvious to him that Duke was deeply troubled. He called out, “Duke! What are you doing? Come here, Duke. Come here!” Duke wasn’t going anywhere. He had enough. His time living the frat life was about to end.
As the legend goes, Duke slowly turned and looked back at Watkins. At this moment, the music abruptly stopped. It sounded like someone jerked the needle off the record player, which I always thought was a hole in this story because the house didn’t have a record player. Anyway, the music stopped and all the party chatter had completely quieted. It was so silent and still, all that could be heard were birds chirping and the faint sound of a train horn going in the distance. From all accounts, “eerie” is the best word to describe the scene. After the reality of Duke’s intentions set in, girls began sobbing uncontrollably and the guys were begging Duke to back away. By this time, Duke’s owner, our chapter president, had worked his way through the crowd and onto the lawn. He looked up at Duke with fear. They locked eyes, and it became quiet again. This stare-down lasted for what seemed about 10 minutes. They were staring “deep into each other’s souls,” a friend told me. He was looking at Duke and reminiscing about all the great times they had together. There was some slight remorse there about exposing him to this lifestyle, but he was overall content with the life he was providing for him. Duke’s stare, and emotion behind it, wasn’t nearly as congenial. He had hate in his heart. The president opened his mouth to talk Duke out of his self-demise, but it was just too late…
Duke came down hard and hit the walkway below with a thunderous thud. The scene quickly turned into complete chaos, and Duke was rushed to the nearby vet clinic.
I’m happy to announce that Duke survived his suicide attempt, and from that day forward he lived his life with a little more gusto. He even slowly began developing an admiration for fratting, and he was better off for it. He would later blackball a spring pledge on his own accord. He just straight up attacked him due to a prolonged eye-fuck. Dude dropped out that night.
It’s a great thing our house was only two stories.
Follow me on Twitter @RogerDornTFM