Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: A Memoir

Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: A Memoir

by Andrew Lohse

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250033680
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/26/2014
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 987,426
File size: 714 KB

About the Author

ANDREW LOHSE grew up in Branchburg, NJ. He attended Dartmouth College, where he majored in English. At Dartmouth he was the Rush Chairman of notorious fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the Deputy Editor of The Dartmouth Independent, a columnist for The Dartmouth, and a contributor for both The Dartmouth Review and the Dartmouth Free Press; he also published columns in the New York Daily News and The Harvard Crimson, and was a 2011 poetry fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. Some of his articles—including a profile of 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, a series of op-eds on Dartmouth's Wall Street recruiting culture, and an expose of his fraternity's hazing practices—connected with a wide internet readership and were considered controversial. He was profiled by Rolling Stone in 2012. Also a freelance musician, Lohse lives in Vermont.


ANDREW LOHSE grew up in Branchburg, NJ. He attended Dartmouth College, where he majored in English. At Dartmouth he was the Rush Chairman of notorious fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the Deputy Editor of The Dartmouth Independent, a columnist for The Dartmouth, and  a contributor for both The Dartmouth Review and the Dartmouth Free Press; he also published columns in the New York Daily News and The Harvard Crimson, and was a 2011 poetry fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. Some of his articles—including a profile of 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, a series of op-eds on Dartmouth's Wall Street recruiting culture, and an expose of his fraternity's hazing practices—connected with a wide internet readership and were considered controversial. He was profiled by Rolling Stone in 2012.  Also a freelance musician, Lohse lives in Vermont.

Read an Excerpt


1

BOOT ON HIS HEAD

 

Vomit is dripping through my hair. It’s warm. Gelatinous. Thick. Somehow this feeling is comforting. Maybe that’s because I associate it with other feelings. Acceptance. Validation.

Now the vomit has reached my neck. Squinting down into the trash can I’m bent over—staring into the shadow my head casts from the basement’s bright fluorescent lights—I wonder if this is what amniotic fluid felt like in the womb. I try to remember but can’t. After all, it doesn’t matter, because back then I wasn’t even a real person. Kind of like how not long ago I was a whaleshit, a pledge, a nothing. And now I’m a brother.

I’m even a rush chairman. There’s a picture of me on one of the frat’s composites: ANDREW B. LOHSE, EMINENT RUSH CHAIRMAN. I think it’s on the one hanging over the fireplace in the living room, although it could be on the one hanging over the fireplace in the pool room—or maybe it’s on the one across from the liquor cabinet, I don’t know—people move them around a lot, mostly to snort coke from them, so I’m not sure of the composite’s exact location. But in the picture I’m smirking, red cheeks over a pink shirt with a white, starched collar. I’m wearing a three-piece suit. A tie splattered with Ralph Lauren logos. A pocket square the color of money.

Maybe I’ve taken this all too seriously. Something about our rituals changed me, deeply, and vomit doesn’t bother me, or, maybe, it’s proof that I survived my hazing. I know that I definitely wasn’t always like this; this is something new. I am a Dartmouth man now. This is normal.

The brothers are still chanting, “Boot on his head, boot on his head,” even though it seems that Randall, one of my older bros, has fully emptied the contents of his stomach onto my skull—my skull, whose contents seem to be inert, swimming uselessly around in their own fluids. I’m pretty wasted. The chanting dissipates. I lift my head up over the lip of the trash can and scan the brothers arrayed in front of me, an army of preppy statuary, a collection of baby-faced kids from well-off families. Baring perfectly white teeth, they all smile. Again I feel a sense of belonging. We practice secret sacraments that have become expressions of male love, and we will be friends forever.

*   *   *

When I stand up straight, the puke finds the express lane down the center of my back. Suddenly, it has reached my belt, my belt that is embroidered with a repeating whale motif, the belt I got to help myself fit the frat’s look, and I blink, and through heavy-lidded eyes curtained by the typical Wednesday-night binging, I am forced to reassess what is happening.

It’s possible that this second review is initiated by the boot’s interminable slide into my boxer shorts, the ones my mother gave me for Christmas; getting someone else’s vomit in your underwear is the kind of buzz-killing sensation that without fail begs you to reassess your animal behavior, and in this brief moment of illumination the jaw-dropping toxicity of our brotherhood is spread bare, at least for me, and I can’t help but wonder how my life became like this. Was it the hazing? Was this just another Ivy League tradition? Why has my emotional responsiveness become a phantom limb?

By the time I reach for my polo shirt—Pulaski, my roommate, is holding it out to me, but between my poor balance and blurry eyes he appears far away, a cartoon on some distant horizon—my moment of doubt has passed and I promise myself to continue evading all morality questions. Until I can’t anymore. Hopefully, I’ll graduate before these questions run me down, though somehow I know I won’t get away unscathed. Eventually I’ll be forced to make a decision. Just not tonight.

Pulaski helps me up onto the benches that line the basement walls like coliseum seats. Two other guys take the spotlight, sidling up over the trash can where Randall and I’d just domed, this drinking game—I’d lost. That’s why he’d booted on my head. Now everyone is singing in unison. Price hands me a cigarette. Confused, I try to light the wrong end.

One of the brothers boots first, missing the can. He has lost the dome. His vomit is the color of rotten chicken cutlets and orange sorbet. It pools on the concrete floor. As an English major I wonder if this is a poetic image I should catalog for the future if I ever try to write about my frat, or about how my life got derailed. Transfixed, I stare at the vomit. I hope someone will mop it up. I’m definitely not going to. After all, girls are coming over soon, the sisters of Alpha Phi, and they probably want to party.

*   *   *

This is just meetings. Normal Wednesday. The anchor of our week. Half an hour ago I was doing homework in the library, studying literature; a year ago I was a wide-eyed freshman with romantic expectations about the Ivy League; months before that I was just a normal high school kid with a pretty girlfriend and a garage band; eighteen years before that I was just a couple of cells floating around in my mom’s uterus, basically just a little fingernail. Not even a fucking real person.

*   *   *

Someone told me once that the best way to show what you have is to waste it. It was probably one of my older frat brothers who told me this—Ripley or Edwards, two people who always seemed to have a lot of fun wasting things of value. In our case, despite the fucked-up things we do and let be done to us, we don’t even believe that we’re wasting anything. Because this is just a part of our education. A big part. This, we’re told, is a crucial experience that will help us get ahead. If you show you’re a team player, valuable connections can be made; someday you might even end up like our frat’s most famous alum, this guy the brothers supposedly nicknamed the Ghost back in the good old days. The guy, some argue, who saved the whole Western world. The guy whose signature is on the bills we roll up to snort coke.

But I doubt anyone calls him the Ghost anymore. They probably call him his real name, Hank, or maybe some people still call him Secretary Paulson. I wonder what he went through to become a brother. I wonder if he had any doubts, and, if he did, which mental garbage chute he forced them down. Maybe, though, he never had doubts. Maybe he came out the other side totally normal, then went on to a totally normal investment-banking career, then was appointed to be a totally normal Treasury Secretary who did totally normal things with a totally functional conscience. It’s hard to tell how much this shit can change you, right?

*   *   *

Pretty soon I’m not thinking about any of this anymore. Meetings end. I clean myself up with some low-grade paper towels. The Alpha Phis come. I have a crush on one, a dancer, a girl with a nose ring and a cryptic smile. We play pong, but I don’t linger long at the table because Price tells me he has some blow, so we go upstairs and bolt the bathroom door and cut up lines on the counter and snort them; I guess I’m always disappearing from the people I’m into and I never give myself a chance. Price and I give each other the secret handshake. For the rest of the night we are invincible.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew Lohse


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Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: A Memoir 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well written, true account of what goes on at Dartmouth's elite fraternities.