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For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Friday, March 04, 2005

G(r)eeks Without Gifts

The males trod the countryside attired in neon greens, shocking pinks and bilious yellows not found in nature, shod in leather shoes from which socks were absent and moved with the uncanny physical and social grace of young warthogs. The females were distinguished by hair that defied gravity and common sense, wore patterns designed to fool the eye into thinking that substance was disguised by style and during that curious week between mid-spring and spring’s end, would suddenly redden to painful lobsterosity in search of early tanning, also known as “a pre-cancerous glow.”

Their ilk dominated the social and pseudo-political atmosphere of the university. Banding together like molting birds, they “rushed” and “pledged,” “partied” and “socialed” and generally behaved like the immature slobs they aspired to be. In that sense, they were a great success.

Joining a fraternity or sorority at the university was deemed an honor by people whose notion of honor is based on the dollar. These starry-eyed dimwits were overjoyed to be selected by some random trio of Greek letters that tried to convey virtues the way a strumpet pretends to be a virgin. They preened. They tried to prance. And they socialized mostly amongst themselves, which was a blessing to the rest of us.

Sour grapes? Pardon me while I retch. What possible benefit can there be to subsuming one’s identity to a fuzzy notion molded by peers less capable than me? What benefit could there be to following an agenda hidebound by the idiotic notion of “tradition”? Why make my entrance into a larger world by allowing people whose opinion was worth nothing to me to guide my path?

Try as I might, no put-down I ever came up with could top Bill’s quip about their Izod-dependent, crocodile-adorned wardrobe eyesores: “Garanimals for adults.” A. Men.

I lost track of the number of times a young lady would walk up to me, strike up a conversation for some ungodly need they might have and then ask the inevitable (and I insist: inevitable) question: “What fraternity are you in?” When the cheerful answer came back—“None”—their eyes would blank out for a couple of seconds, the engaging smile would fade like fog and they would leave. A few would say something inane like “Sorry.” Those that did would get another retort, zooming over their heads like jets above pond water.

Lest you think that bothered me, it was actually fun and life-affirming. Would you want someone to accept you simply because a group gives you identity? Because you’re a Republican? A Rotarian? A Trekkie? (The list is in rising order of importance.) Do you accept that your value rests on affiliation rather than talent, moral values, virtues, skills, intelligence, charm and personality? If you do, then I’m better off watching your eyes go blank, your smile fade and your back recede as you do me the favor of walking away.


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