I Left My Mark on Pi Phi

The housemom at the Kappa house asked me to throw away two bottles. These were spray bottles, like Windex, but filled with dye. You can see the bottles sitting on the grill outside the dining room (which I call the Kappateria; no one else calls it that). They’ve been there for a year and a half.

I put them there. My junior year before Owl-o-ween (the Kappa Halloween function – apparently they like it when they come up with the puns), my date and I tie dyed shirts. As a Halloween function, a couple goes as anything matched. I’ve been a robot, a tattoo artist, and even a unicorn. That year, we were professional function goers, because we were good at dancing. We were really good.

When I told Mom Shanks that the bottles were mine, it wasn’t apparent whether or not she was mad. I get away with many things because I’m now the senior houseboy. Ringo, who’s a year older than me, left last Tuesday. Afterwards, I was late to my shift, and when scolded I told the chef that washing dishes was like Top Gun, and I was the Maverick of KKG.

My sophomore year I worked at the Pi Beta Phi house. They paid us there, but they only employed five houseboys, so you had to work five meals as opposed to two. It evens out. Trust me – I was a math major. I worked with a few fraternity brothers, which made it fun, but the head cook was this old harpy named Wilma. We hated Wilma. When she was a kid, people asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she said, “Ugly and mean.” She smoked like a chainsaw.

The housemom, Mom B, may have had Alzheimer’s. I say this because in the spring, I studied abroad in Rome for a semester. I just worked at Pi Phi for the fall; when I got back, Mom B had given my job away because she thought I was Heath Mitchell, another houseboy. A month later I was working at Kappa.

I tell this story because, like the tie dye, I left something at Pi Phi, too. When I was gone, somehow one of the girls got my picture printed onto posterboard and pasted it on the wall in the kitchen, above the buffet line. It was probably an 8×10 – a good sized picture. After I left, no one took it down because if they did, it would strip the paint off the wall. They left it there for two years.

It went down earlier this year. By that time, none of the girls who lived in the house knew who I was. I still get stopped between classes by girls who say, “Oh my god! Yours is the face who haunts me! Tell me your name, spirit!”


An Informative and Entertaining Alzheimer’s Story

A few days ago at the Kappa house, one of the girls asked me to help her write an essay about Alzheimer’s that was both informative and entertaining. Easily done. There are many things more entertaining than Alzheimer’s.

She asked me when I could get together to work; we have to get together to do this? Can’t I just ghostwrite it? But after I asked her what I was getting out of this, she backed off a little, like I was a homeless man. Many girls think the houseboys are homeless. Once, when I worked in the Pi Phi house, a girl found me in the kitchen and told me that there was a homeless man sleeping on the living room couch, and all the girls were afraid to wake him up. It turned out it was just Blake Chism. He wants to be an engineer.
So instead of actually working, I said that I would tell a story about Alzheimer’s that was both informative and entertaining, and she could transcribe it. This is what I spoke:
My family lived with my grandmother for six years; we moved in when she was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She was nearly normal up until the last two years, when she began to slide. She forgot my name – I think she thought I was my grandfather. She told me I was handsome a lot (first sign of Alzheimer’s). And she stopped watching television. Unfamiliar shows upset her. She could watch DVD’s of the shows she traditionally watched. She loved Murder She Wrote, and she loved JAG. That’s all that she watched every episode multiple times, and I watched with her.
Eventually she reached a point where she couldn’t remember even these shows. Harmon Rabb, or Angela Landsbury would solve a crime, and she would ask, “Who is that?” That’s the hero, Grandma. He or she is doing good.
But she retained something peculiar. Even though she forgot the premises and the characters, she could always identify the bad guys. I don’t think she could remember the bad guys – that would be way to much to ask of her mind, and really, if she could do that, that’s a waste of memory in a world where she thinks we’re married. No, I think that she just watched enough mysteries that she cracked some sort of narrative code by which bad guys could be identified by physical traits and entrances. Every first time a bad guy would enter the screen, ten minutes into the episode where he’s not even considered a suspect, Grandma would make her hands into guns and shout “Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew!”
That was her version of a machine gun.
Thanks a lot, Grandma. I hadn’t seen this episode, but now it’s pretty obvious that the uncle did it. This is why I never take you out with me.
Sometimes the Kappa house makes me feel like a sage. Yesterday, a girl at lunch told me she took a right brain/left brain test, and out of 18 questions, answered 18 of them with her left brain. What does that mean. It means, I said, that you’ll die when you’re 25. She didn’t talk to me after that.
This morning, as I walked through the house after breakfast, I heard different girls talking about the right brain/left brain test. One said, “If you’re all left brain, you’re only supposed to live till 25.”

Contest Winner Announced!

Last week I held a contest to gratify my ego, and as it turns out, eight people read this blog. Plus David Cox, who told me in person he refuses to comment. I feel honored. In high school, I only had like three friends, so I’ve tripled in value as a person, and I’m growing as a human being. Seriously – I’m like a half inch taller than I was when I came into college, though I’ve lost ten plus pounds. A few more years of this and I’ll finally be a man.

My thesis is a novel about time travel. My advisor is an actual editor for Amy Tan and a few other memoir focused feminists, so my time travel apocalative is exactly her forte. In December I gave her the first fifty pages. She emailed two days later, saying she couldn’t read it. The grammar was horrible and she hated the narrator. Use Christmas break to find yourself, then give me some haikus written in purple crayon. I can’t read anything else, because your horrible prose blinded me.
I kill off a lot of characters in my novel. That’s real power. I found myself creating characters just so I could shoot them in the back. I had to create a special gun to do it, because machine gun is a very bulky phrase. I named the gun after my high school English teacher. He inspired me to kill.
The contest was for the naming rights of one of the characters who is predestined to die. The goal was to write out the longest number. David Lee won with:
The first number is pronounced, “googoplexian,” which is also what humans will be called when the search engine Google renames the planet. They aim for the stars. Other entries included one, infinity, and David Lee plus one.
For our fraternity’s last date function, I didn’t have any leads, so at the Kappa house where I work, I wrote on the pantry chalkboard, “If you want to go to a BYX function with the houseboy with a beard (since many of them do not know my name), please put your name in the jar below.” After two meals, I had three names. Alex’s roommate’s put hers in. Julianne, the president, was in there eight times; eight different girls, none of them Julianne, submitted her name. The only girl who put her own name in thought she was signing up for a late plate. I picked her.
David is not a really unique name. His middle name, Raleigh, is good, but it’s almost too unfamiliar. I think it might be distracting. If his last name, Lee, was his middle name, and he was referred to in a southern manner as David Lee, as we call my cousins from Kentucky Holly Rae or Billy Joe (no joke – Billy Joe Murphy. He’s 6’7″ and 330 lbs. He plays offensive line for the University of Kentucky. He’s a big boy), it might be okay. So I will kill David Lee in my thesis novel using the gun I named after my AP Literature teacher.

This Whole Time, You Were Heath Ledger?

In my fraternity, we divide all members up into cell groups of four to five guys; we do it by big/little relationships, and if someone is old enough not to have a little (like me), they get thrown in, as well. My cell group meets at Common Grounds on Sunday nights, because that’s when D.J. Soulfree weaves patterns to make music. We sit right by the speakers, and have to shout prayer requests at one another. But when Hate It or Love It comes on, its worth it, because we are all reminded of the fellowship that 50 Cent and The Game shared (before the feud). We love it.

Last Sunday, we were talking about our semesters. Scott is planning to take the MCAT. Taylor is going to India. Dylan, who runs track, is swamped. I don’t have much to do anymore. But at this time, another brother, Nick Pavey, came in with his girlfriend and two girls from Potter’s House, where Nick Pavey works. Potter’s House is a ministry for at-risk students. Nick is very faithful with them. We said hello, and they sat next to us, and we all watched DJ Soulfree brush the falling dreadlocks out of her eyes.
Near the end of cell group, I began to notice Nick Pavey’s two girls staring at me. I thought he was encouraging it, but I ignored them. On TV, they say that drives women crazy. Nick said, “Go tell him,” and one girl got up and came over. “You look like Heath Ledger.” Oh. I am him. It’s nice of you to notice. The conversation devolved from there.
When I was a sophomore, I worked as a houseboy for Pi Beta Phi for a semester. It was difficult; the food line is in the kitchen, so when girls get their lunch, they make uninhibited eye contact with the houseboys. Houseboys are like 19th century fieldhands or medieval serfs – girls don’t touch us, probably because we’re marked as hired help, and they still have aspirations of marrying millionaires. Good luck with that. We live in Arkansas.
But I would see these girls everyday, and though I knew their names, we never talked. One nice girl asked me to their winter formal, and I accepted. It was a lot of fun. But when it was over, and as we were waiting for the limousine, one of the seniors approached me. I used to see this girl at breakfast, wearing someone else’s shirt. She was a very cool cucumber, and she would have never talked to me sober. But as she past me exiting the dance, she suddenly stopped and looked at me. She looked like Gonzo. She put a hand on my shoulder and leaned against me, breathing heavily in disbelief.
“Heath Ledger?”
Her date took her other arm and pulled her away, but she walked backwards and continued staring at me, confused and possibly starstruck. It made the houseboy job worth it.
This was before Heath Ledger died, so it is not morbid.
Then, the Pi Phi house mom, Mom B, was losing her mind. I went to Rome the next semester, and when I came back, I asked for my job again. She thought I was another houseboy, and said she gave my job away. Thanks a lot Mom B. Now I work at the Kappa house, where, I am told, the girls call me “Sexy Lumberjack Man.” But if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, is my ego still inflated? Yes, yes it is.
I’ve had a few questions (from the same person) about the contest in the previous post. I’m leaving it open until midnight tonight, and you can post multiple times. Admit it – unless you’re David Lee or Dani Schulke, you’ve never posted on this blog. In exchange for being killed off in my thesis novel, I think it’s worth it. All entries must be attached to the previous blog post.

My Nightmare is Banished

I posted earlier a story about my high school nemesis, who was appointed Kappa Kappa Gamma house chef and subsequently my boss. This is the A+ Number One nightmare of geeks: that those who abused them in high school really will be cooler than them in twenty years.

Will was chef for two months, and during his reign of terror we had such dishes as cous cous, brie and apple sandwiches, and no desserts. He also managed to take away the traditional, weekly Chicken Finger Friday, where the house lunch is open to the campus, and styrofoam cups. You’d be surprised by which of those caused more grief; sororities love their styrofoam. It’s a girl’s best friend. If she’s making napalm. That may have been a pledge mission.
Will replaced the beloved Chef John, who cooked very regular meals and made a cheesecake that I actually died for, immediately before it brought me back to life. He also is a sculptor, and was in the process of creating a series of 300 tribal masks. I went to one of his art shows last year. There was cheesecake.
On Friday, one of the Kappa’s texted me, saying, “chief william has been fried!” My initial response was, that’s a hate crime. Then I realized he was neither a minority nor was he a victim, but someone who just didn’t make any desserts. NO DESSERTS! YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT I’VE BEEN THROUGH!
Chef John is contracted to return on December 1st. Until then, the campus food service Chartwells will be handling the cooking. Today there were chocolate chip cookies.

When Nightmares Rise Again

I work as a houseboy in a sorority mansion; in exchange for washing dishes and dealing with the trash, I do not get paid, but I do receive three meals a day and free parking. I used to get free dates, as well, but apparently you can only take a few girls out before you get blacklisted. But, come on – why only pick one apple in an orchard?

Last year, the house cook was a man named Chef John. Chef John was a superhero – he made a dessert for every meal and he sculpted tribal masks while working in the kitchen. This man’s life vita was something to be coveted; he built his own house, he married a woman from Yugoslavia, and he baked a very soft cheesecake at least once a week. We were best friends.

Chef John is no longer working at the house. He left in order to train and apply for his five star chef rating from J.D. Power and Associates. I think. The point is, when I came back to school, the house had a new chef, and he was my worst nightmare.

When I was in tenth grade, I was very skinny (as opposed to now, when everyone has stopped telling me how skinny I am). I played football, and as a joke, I played offensive line. It was not a very funny joke. I always had to line up next to Will McCormick, a six foot, two hundred and eight babies he ate for lunch pounds beast-student. He had a clay face and was the kind of guy who would punch you when you weren’t looking, in order to test how effective the padding on his new blocking gloves was.

The time that I spent putting on my pads that year was the closest to hell I’ll ever be (until I actually get there). Anticipating Will’s violence was impossible, and since he thought we were friends, avoiding him and his fists was also impossible. When he graduated high school, all the bruises I had been holding inside myself floated to the surface, and I turned purple.

I had lost contact with Will until last week, when I found out that he apparently went directly from football practice to culinary school, where he studied for three years; after that, he interned for two in a five star restaurant in Boston, under a man who used to be the chef in the White House.

Will told me all this himself, when we met in the hallway at the sorority house where we both now work. I clean the dishes, and Will makes all the food. And pulls an actual wage.

I would think Will would only make meat and potatoes mixed together, and maybe some coffee with cigarette butts floating in it, but as it so happens, he had to explain the English translation of all the French words on our new menu to me. He even went so far as to advertise “pomme frittes” with our “Classic Cheeseburger.” Basically, pomme frittes are French Fries.

The girls love him. The house mom loves him. The houseboys think he’s funny. But he hasn’t fooled me. He may be putting up a fake French accented menu, but its only a facade for frozen French Fries, and I’m just waiting for the day he tries to punch me to test out his new oven glove.