This weekend was the third Legacy Weekend that my old fraternity Beta Upsilon Chi put on, and the first Weekend that the alums took seriously. To cap it off, we were invited to dine with our descendants.
When I was on the executive board, I divided all the pledges into four houses named after the four major founding fathers. I bet you can’t guess which fantasy series that followed a heroic boy wizard I was reading at the time. Now, a few years later, the system has grown. Alumni were supposed to lunch with their particular house. The problem is, the system was never retroactive. Only four alumni knew which house they belonged to, and that’s because these were named after them.
So instead the rest of us just picked the best restaurant offered. During the meal I asked a pledge what house he belonged to. Responding with confusion, he told me it was Cooper. “Cooper,” I announced to the rest of the table. “We’re in House Cooper.”
Many brothers came in. Statistically, each American time zone was represented, but it was a bit misleading. Most are still Central. At lunch, we spoiled many a secret accidentally as we spoke too loudly about our memories. Most stories were followed by a disclaimer aimed at the current pledges, like “The new BYX takes that much more seriously,” or “There’s a No-Nudity clause now.”
As many that came, most did not. A quick survey of the alumni would’ve seen that mostly all of us were on the executive board at some point. We lamented the old faces that didn’t come back, the figures of legend whom we taught the pledges to quote. I had a mental grocery list and would request older and older stories through lunch about mythic fraternity brothers who had become adjectives and verbs. Most likely they would’ve ruined the fun if they had come – they could not live up to their names.
For instance: Luke Porter was an ex-defensive end for the Razorbacks who started modeling business suits for a thirty-something store when he was nineteen. He shaved twice a day. Once, the army hired him to put on a uniform and stand behind a recruiter on campus for a day. He looks like a lumberjack action hero.
Everyone had a Luke Porter story. He said many silly things. As we passed his memory around, I spoke up about my recruitment. BYX used to (and still does) take potentials to an ice hockey rink to play broomball. It’s supposed to be a time of bonding between members and possible pledges. Instead, during my year we played a rough and physical game of members versus pledges. The first member on the ice: Luke Porter. He tore his shirt and made a snow angel bare-chested. Then, the only time I touched the ball, he checked me into the glass and I got a nose full of chest hair. It was like he didn’t want me to join.
A few years later, at the bachelor’s table of a brother’s wedding reception I retold that story. Luke was there. When the table looked to him to respond, he said, “This guy! I love this guy!”