I have an announcement: I’ve been asked to be the new President of my Tri Delta Alumnae Association! I’m very honored and excited!
Last night Avery’s old babysitter came over to visit while she’s home from college on break. I was GIDDY to talk to her about her first semester as a Tri Delt; my husband was making fun of me for how geeky I was being. I imagine if my daughters ever pledge Tri Delta I will be insufferable and probably try to move into the house with them and insist that they order extra T-Shirts for me and my besties so we can match. (Random thought: when we are Grandmas will we still call each other “besties”? Will it be quaint like “bosom-buddy”?)
As Vice President of Membership for my sorority, I ran recruitment. If you have ever been in a sorority, you know that the majority of “work week” brings out the absolute worst in people. It is a grueling schedule of rehearsals, meetings and sleep deprivation, culminating in a big production at the end of the week where everyone forgets how awful they have been to each other, hugs, cries, and laughs hysterically. I loved every second of it.
My school had deferred recruitment, meaning it occurred in January and was always freezing. The sorority girls would get all done up according to a theme, line up on the stairs in the foyer of the house and begin singing at the top of their lungs so the Potential New Members could hear as they shivered outside on the front lawn. While “lining up on the stairs” does not sound like it would require much choreographing, it actually was the most difficult part of recruitment. Have you ever been on an escalator and tried to ride on the stair directly up or down from someone else? If so, you are probably some sort of creep. Please stop reading my blog.
The directions for standing on the stairs went like this:
- Stand up straight as a board, shoulders forward, sucking in.
- Twist your head to the left until you have searing neck pain and smile as big as you possibly can. (Totally natural).
- Hold this position while singing 12 choruses of “Hey, Look Us Over” at the top of your lungs, still with a huge fake smile, and move in exact synchronization down the stairs like one big Stepford wife assembly line. The heat is cranked up because the front door is open so try not to get a sweat mustache or pit stains.
- When you get to the bottom of the stairs, confidently introduce yourself to a Potential New Member and casually start a conversation as if the fact that you were just loudly serenading them TO THEIR FACE is completely normal.
The stairs did make an impressive welcome scene in the chandeliered foyer of the sorority house. And when you’ve been standing in the cold for fifteen minutes, suddenly the lights seem brighter, the singing seems better, and the warmth of the house intoxicates you with fuzzy, secure, I-belong-here feelings.
On Philanthropy night, we had a sophomore (we’ll call her T) who was making it known that she didn’t care for one of the Potential New Members. This is a huge faux pas. Despite what people might think about sororities, recruitment protocol is extremely strict with regard to the respectful treatment of every Potential New Member. (Manners are always a DO)
Anyway this girl would NOT QUIT with the cattiness. The first party ended and everyone made a mad dash to clean up cocktail napkins, reapply lipgloss and get back in position as the next group lined up in front of our house. Running recruitment is intense because parties are timed to the minute so everything has to move like clockwork or you risk getting a fine. That’s when out of nowhere I heard someone say “I just want to say something really quick.” It was one of my roommates, a senior (we’ll call her E) E is still one of the coolest people I know. The sophomores were terrified of her and obsessed with her at the same time.
The room fell silent and all eyes were upon her. She looked annoyed. “I just want to say that you aren’t always going to like every girl that comes through the front door…” Okay. She was doing that tone where you are pretending to be diplomatic but you are actually calling someone out passive aggressively. T’s face turned red. E went on, getting louder and more accusatory, “I don’t care if you HATE someone,” the clock was ticking and she was ranting now, “you better pull yourself together and ACT LIKE A F_CKING LADY!” F-bomb. We were stunned. E was stunned at herself. Just then, it was time to open the doors. Cue the singing! Smile smile smile!
Over the years, E has been known to give a Merlot-fueled speech or two. We call them her “We, as women,…” speeches, because this is usually how they begin. But the F-bomb speech was my favorite of all time. First of all, it was completely hypocritical. What lady uses the F-word let alone yells it in front of 50 people. Secondly, the timing could not have been less appropriate, as we were supposed to be in a loving, giving mood, talking about raising money for children with cancer. In spite of these things, when I look back I still think that she was the right person with the right message. It was all over in the span of 2 minutes, but I will never forget it. E’s advice, to “Act like a f-ing lady” captures so much at once. It makes being a lady sound so cool and strong and tough. And sometimes it actually is kind of tough. People can be unkind, boring, dumb and rude and you want to retaliate or at the very least roll your eyes, but the very best thing we can do in those situations is pull ourselves together and act like ladies. (F-bomb optional.)
I could literally write a book about all the amazing things I gained from being in my sorority (and maybe I will!) but I’m going to stop myself now and leave it with the most important thing, which is the purpose of Tri Delta: “Let us steadfastly love one another.”