MEMOIRS OF A FRAT BOY: How It All Started

Say what you want to about frats, because lord knows I do, but joining one was the first time I’d ever been to look outside of myself and care about someone other than me.

Nov 2, 2012 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

Remember my last article when I said, “Don’t even ask how I ended up in a frat in the first place”?  Well, you all asked. I ask myself the same question frequently, and haven’t quite been able to figure it out. 

I guess my honest answer is that I just kind of thought it would be funny. 

Andy Warhol said “Art is anything you can get away with,” and I apply that to all areas of life. (Wait, pause, actually, Andy DIDN’T say that, it was his contemporary, futurist Marshall McLuhan. It’s just that everyone thinks Andy said it, so throw THAT one out at your next cocktail party.) Either way, when the opportunity arose to join a frat, I wanted to see how far I could get with it.

It’s worth noting that I’m an only child. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than a couple brothers or sisters. Still, when I visited the campus, and my tour guide asked if I was interested in getting involved in Greek life, I replied, “I’m not enough of a douchebag to join a frat." (I am, above all things, a douchebag).

So, I didn’t join my freshman year, which was probably the best for me. I got to start college on my own terms and figure shit out the way I wanted to. My best girlfriend Maureen (who is actually the one who introduced me to xoJane!) joined a sorority our freshman year, so I got a small glimpse into the Greek world.  

Sidebar: I used to be really, really uptight, and then I met Maureen and she showed me it was okay to loosen up a little AND LOOK AT ME NOW.

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Mo loves me and xoJane.

Throughout freshman year, I got close to a bunch of guys who all happened to be in the same frat. They were all musicians, artists, actors and assholes -- you know, the kind of people I gravitate toward.  

Sophomore year, I made some snarky comment about how “I should just be in their frat” since I spend so much time with them, and my friend Mike simply said, “Well, do you want to be?  We could make it happen.”  

(Mike remembers none of this, by the way. He doesn’t remember meeting me until a year later, at which point we already had matching tattoos. Mike is also 100% the man I want to be when I grow up, if that ever happens. He sails.)

“NO,” was my obvious answer.

I called my mom later that night and I briefly mentioned my exchange with the boys, and she said, “You should do it.” 

Whatever, MOM. I think she wanted me to be around more dudes so I could learn to do things like, I don’t know, use a screwdriver. I could paint your nails and give you a mad blowout, but you’d be on your own if you had to build a bookshelf.

So, I got back to the guys and told them that I was interested, I guess. That’s when things changed. They told me to come up to the house and meet all the guys.  

“I already knooow the guys,” I whined.

But it was for formalities sake, which is so obnoxious. I have no time for formalities. Sure, the guys knew me, but did they really KNOW me? I guess they wanted to see me around the house in the sober (“sober”) light of day instead of in all of our collective stupors at 3am.

Have you ever felt like a used car? Or a product being appraised by a group of buyers? That’s exactly how I felt. For the first time, all of these guys that I had known for a year were all trying to see me in a different light. All eyes were on me, and all of them were scrutinizing. Not that I’m unfamiliar with being CHECKED OUT BY LEGIONS OF MEN, but this was different. I was definitely being judged.  

The thing was that we had all known each other for long enough that we all knew exactly what we would be getting into if I joined the house. I suppose they just wanted to be sure. I’m quite the commitment to take on, after all.   

Oh, OH. And my frat didn’t haze, like, at all, so that’s really what sold me. I was not about to subject myself to that type of shit just to hang out with a group of guys that I was already cooler than in the first place.  

Plus, I’ve been able to weasel other frat’s hazing rituals out of unsuspecting dudes, and let me tell YOU, that is some freaky, MESSED UP stuff. I honestly don’t know how they were able to look their brothers in the eye after some of their hazing rituals.

So, yeah, the rest is history, I guess.  

LITTLE DID I KNOW, my guys would end up being just like family to me. That was such a dirty trick.

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That’s Mark, my frat son.  Isn’t he the cutest?

I always explain that being in a frat is the closest I’ve ever felt to raising children. I say that because frat boys are childish and complete handful (myself included, thank you), but there’s more to it than just that. Whether I liked it or not, this crew of dudes became actual brothers to me, and we all looked out for each other.

I suppose you can’t be drunk, naked and screaming around the same 40 guys and not forge SOME sort of connection to them. We’d all help each other study, lend each other food, or just be there to hang around if someone needed to decompress (you’ll rarely catch a frat guy wanting to “talk” about his “feelings,” but having someone who cares in close proximity helps). One person’s success was everyone’s success; their loss was our loss.  

Even reading all that makes me roll my eyes, truly. Say what you want to about frats, because lord knows I do, but joining one was the first time I’d ever been to look outside of myself and care about someone other than me. 

I always take better care of myself when someone is loving me. I’m more successful, I eat more, I’m a more well rounded person. Being surrounded by these guys who actually cared about me and my well-being, I’ve rarely been in a better place. I knew it then and I know it now. 

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That’s Zack.  It was not unusual for us both to be covered in paint and glowsticks.

I’m not trying to make myself sound like the perfect brother, I made those guys put in WORK protecting my ass. Oooh, girl, I was talking some SHIT, knowing I had 40 guys who would clean up the messes I’d make. But whatever, I gave them advice on girls, you know? It evened out.  

Furthermore, although I look like the epitome of poise and grace I AM SURE, I do have my klutzy moments. It was nice to have a group of guys to tell me, “No, Tynan, you didn’t break your leg, you stubbed your toe, calm down,” or, “Tynan, put the drink down, you’re still bleeding.” We all looked out for each other, although sometimes the most watchful eyes were on me.   

So, would I tell a young man to join a frat? Probably not. Or cautiously, at best. In the end, I think it worked out for me because I have never let anyone fuck around with me and I fell into a group of guys who respected me and respected themselves. I know that’s not always the case. We’ve all heard the horror stories. I mean, people die! Or worse, get drunk and let someone shave their head into a Mohawk in the bathroom!  

So does that answer your questions? I hope so. Were you in a frat or sorority? Wasn’t it the weirdest thing? TWEET ME YOUR ESOTERIC SECRETS!!! @TynanBuck

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