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When I’m not watching Hermione Granger lick her lips directly at me (and me alone), I’m living in a post-sorority-girl-email-rant world. Life was different before. Children laughed and sang, no one over the age of 20 debated the politics of societal tiers during Greek Week, no one knew who Michael Shannon was, and “cunt punt” was a marginally used expression, mostly by my grandmother and her bridge group. Not anymore.
When I first read the letter, I thought it was fantastic. Really a stellar piece of work. It captured the insularity of college, and more specifically, Greek life. It was unintentionally satirical, the kind of thing we would consider fine art if only it were self-aware. And it would have been a small footnote of 2013, but then came the commentary, and the opinions, and, uh, this?
Like the Jitterbug, it has swept the nation. What started as a nice afternoon diversion has now become something I have to discuss at length with most everyone I come across. And you know what? Most of these conversations end up devolving into a kind of vague defense of Greek life. Believe me, I know this girl is whacked. Just the sheer length of that email is ten levels of crazy. But so many of those I talk to seem to accept this as a normal sorority girl interaction, or at least indicative of the kind of society-obsessed asshole that joins Greek life. As if this was the one email of the millions of crazy emails that happened to sneak into the public sphere. As if the act of joining a sorority marks you for life as an out-of-touch, Burberry-clad nutjob. But that’s only partially true.
I work as a standup comedian in New York. I look like a frat guy, all tucked-in button downs, New Balance shoes, and baseball caps. I AM a frat guy, or at least I used to be, and I’m a ship adrift in a sea of beards and glasses and irony. The other night I was introduced to the stage like this: “And your next comic looks like he just shotgunned a beer and then roofied your girlfriend! Give it up for Jared Freid!” The room didn’t exactly explode, and the guy in front with the “Godzilla vs. Mothra” t-shirt could not have crossed his arms more tightly without suffocating. And I get it. Beyond the movie stereotypes of jock-y Aryan-looking dudes stealing nerds’ girlfriends, there is the distinct reality that fraternities and sororities, by their very nature, are elitist. You can’t have a vetting and pledging process, you can’t peddle “exclusivity” to people and expect the members inside to not feel a level of elitism. Greek life picks up where high school cliques left off. So I get the hostility. But only for about two years.
Two years. That’s about how long into college anyone feels insecure enough to believe that the fraternity or sorority they joined defines who they are in this world. By the time you get to junior year, let alone post-college life, all that fades away. You stop caring whether someone is independent or affiliated or whatever. Yet the animosity towards Greek life lingers long past then. Yes, I loved my fraternity, I’m glad I joined, but it was for the friends I made, and the nice house we lucked in to, and the good looking girls that would stop by on weekends and the flavored vodka that got them drunk. Should I apologize for this? I only gave, like, three brothers handjobs during pledging. Totally worth it. Yet here I am. Defending the life I loved. I never gave anyone a swirlie. I, too, love a good mojito. I agree that Mario 64 is the best Mario. And there is nothing better on God’s green earth than a blowjob in the morning. We are not so different, you and I. If you prick me, do I not bleed, my independent friend? Granted, my blood throws better parties, has a richer dad, and gives girls orgasms, but I digress.
The Delta Gamma that wrote that email is an insane person, and she existed in a structure that tolerated her insanity, maybe even fostered it. But that falls away over time. And what’s left is the person in front of you, and it shouldn’t matter whether I was Greek or not. It doesn’t define me; it doesn’t define her. So I won’t apologize for the beers I crush, or the babes I smoke (or fail to), or the chants I chant. It’s the life I love. And if I’m with my buddies laughing and screaming about this great country and pouring beers on our heads while you’re in the corner scowling at our behavior, well, who’s the elitist now? Why don’t you come on over, friend, and share a few? Maybe you wont find us to be so bad. Maybe you’ll think we’re fun, nice guys. Maybe after a couple months of hazing, we’ll even let you hang out with us.