“Fuck that! Tell him to fucking leave!”



          Less than an hour later, I was sitting in the basement of the Upsilon fraternity house as our Chapter meeting went through its standard protocol. We stood together as a brotherhood and recited our creed in unison. The IFC rep reported the information he received from his weekly meeting with the Inter-Fraternity Council. Our social chairman discussed an upcoming Bikers and Babes date social. The intramural sports chairman informed us that we had slipped into third place behind the Alphas and the Omicrons in the campus intramural rankings because of our poorer than usual performance in flag football.

Towards the end of Chapter, the seriousness of the meeting would always fade and antsy brothers unable to sit still longer than an hour would start acting up and cracking jokes. Like clockwork, I watched the older brothers loosen up as the meeting appeared to be coming to an end, or so they thought. When it came time for general announcements, Backstreet stood up and dropped the bomb.

          “I want to do a box session for the pledges,” he said.

          The effect of his words was instant pandemonium.          
“What the hell for?”

          “But they’re almost brothers!”

          “Hell week is two weeks away!”

          “Are you fucking serious?”

          Most of the older brothers were in an uproar and a few of the younger brothers were equally incensed. Since the pledges were so close to being initiated, some brothers felt that it was unethical to call a box session on them at this late juncture. Others thought that if a pledge was really a problem, he would have already been blackballed. A few brothers even rationalized that because the pledges had made it this far, they had proven they wanted to be a part of our fraternity and this was all that mattered.

          “Fuck that!” Moody yelled as he jumped to his feet. “We’re brothers of this fraternity and it’s our right to call a box on any pledge we want at any time we want!”

          His voice was seconded by many other younger brothers who had been present at the secret meeting. We would have our day, and no one would take it from us, not even the older brothers.

          Arguments continued to flare until Mitchell, the Sergeant-at-Arms, threatened to kick brothers out of the basement if they did not settle down. With much regret, the Pledge Marshall began to read off the names of our pledges.

          “Greg Goldman,” he said first.

           Backstreet immediately stood up and said, “Box.”

          The angry look on the faces of the older brothers was priceless, but it was nowhere near as hilarious as the enraged expressions that formed on their faces when the names of Timmy and Pebbles were called. Once again, Backstreet was the voice of instigation.

          He stood up each time and said, “Yeah…uh…this is another guy I want to call a box on.”


          “What the fuck, Backstreet?”

          “Do you want to kick them all out?”

          “We need the fucking dues!”

          “How can you dick someone over like that?”

          “They’re almost brothers!”

          “How can you do that? Do you even care about their feelings?”

          As more brothers cursed and shouted, I stared at my blonde-haired roommate with admiration. It was not an easy thing to place someone on the chopping block, but Backstreet proved himself to be a young man willing to put the interests of his brotherhood before all else.

          When the entire list of pledges had been read, a separate hand vote was conducted for each of the three pledges under review, and much to my disappointment, Goldman was the only pledge who accumulated enough blackball votes to be kicked out of the fraternity. Many of the older brothers were still appalled by this outcome.

          A brainiac brother named Preston stood up and stormed out of the basement, but not before turning around and bitterly exclaiming, “Since you assholes want him out, then you guys are the ones who are gonna tell him to his face he’s been blackballed!”

           “No problem,” Mitchell replied as he stood to his feet and followed Preston out the door.

          I watched them leave with amusement and respect. Mitchell was in his element now. The young man was a criminology major who wanted to be a cop, something I knew my friend would be quite good at because he had no problem telling people what they didn’t want to hear. Mitchell was terrific at being a dick.

          When Mitchell left the basement, he walked around the rear building of the fraternity house to where all of the pledges were waiting for Chapter to end and their Sunday meeting to begin.

          “Hey, Goldman,” Mitchell said as he approached the gathered pledges, “you need to come with me.”

          The pledge followed him through the courtyard, up the back stairway, into the fraternity house, and out the front door. By the time they crossed Pensacola Street, the young pledge had a sense of what was happening.

“Here,” Mitchell suggested, “let’s sit down.”

          They sat on a short flight of steps leading up to a faculty parking lot. With as much gentleness as possible, Mitchell initiated what would be the most traumatizing event to have ever occurred in the pledge’s young life.

          “Goldman, you’ve been blackballed from Upsilon.”

          The young man stared blankly at Mitchell. He heard the brother’s words, but couldn’t quite believe them.

          “This doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends with your pledge brothers or anyone else in the fraternity, but what it does mean is that you won’t ever wear our letters on campus and you can’t come to our fraternity sponsored events.”

          Goldman’s red-haired head sunk low in agony and Mitchell could almost hear the pledge’s heart breaking. When Goldman looked up again, tears were in his blue eyes.

“Mitchell,” he whispered, “you don’t know what this place means to me. I…I consider you guys my friends. I know that you, Bryce, and some of the other brothers don’t like me…but I want you guys to know that I have nothing against you. I just want to be a part of this fraternity.”

           Mitchell voice became sterner. “I’m sorry, Goldman, but this is just not the right place for you.”

          This statement was met with an awkward silence, interrupted only by the noise of cars whizzing by on Pensacola Street and the quivering sound of the young pledge sniffling. Refusing to feel pity for the anguished freshman, Mitchell tried to give the young man a gentle push in the direction of pride.

          “Look, bro,” he said, “if I were in your shoes, I’d be like, ‘Fuck these guys,’ and just walk away and not look back.”

          But Goldman did not have enough pride to walk away, and instead of holding fast to what dignity he had left, the young man started to beg.

          “Please, Mitchell,” he pleaded, “just tell me what I need to do to stay here…I swear I’ll do whatever it takes…I’ll do whatever it takes.”

          The sad and desperate way Goldman was looking at Mitchell made him feel like he was taking a cow out of the barn to be slaughtered, but he raised the shotgun to the animal’s head and fired.

          “I’m sorry, Goldman. It’s out of my hands. You’ve been blackballed. The fraternity has spoken.”

          The brother of Upsilon rose to his feet and left the crying freshman on the stairs. Goldman’s morose reaction to the bad news should not have been a surprise to anyone who knew him personally and knew of his dependency on the fraternity for a social life. While most guys would certainly have been grieved and humiliated by the whole ordeal, they would also have been resentful enough to move on with their lives. But Goldman needed the fraternity for the social life he would never be able to build on his own which was precisely why he was not the type of guy we wanted in Upsilon.

          A few minutes after Mitchell returned to the fraternity house, the anguished freshman walked around the side of the building and entered the courtyard. Brothers and pledges watched him with mixed emotions.

          “They just blackballed me, guys!” Goldman cried to his pledge brothers. “They fucking blackballed me.”

          “I’m sorry, Goldman,” a pledge said and looked like he meant it.

          “Yeah, dude…we’re sorry,” said another pledge who looked like he didn’t.

          Goldman approached a group of older brothers and I moved closer to listen.

          “Bishop?” he whimpered. “What’d I do wrong? I thought you liked me.”

          “I do like you,” Bishop said and gently laid his hand on the other young man’s shoulder. “And you didn’t do anything wrong.”

          “Then what’s wrong with me?” Goldman asked, terrified of what the answer might be.

          “There’s nothing wrong with you!” Preston urged as he stared venomously at me and the younger brothers. “You’re a good kid and any fraternity should be glad to have you.”

“Then why…why, guys?” he asked.

“It was bullshit,” answered an older brother named Lewis. “It was fucking bullshit.”

“I’m sorry, Goldman,” Bishop said. “I don’t agree with it, but sometimes these things happen.”

I too did my part to console the kid. “Don’t worry, Goldman. We can give you your money back.”

          Goldman’s reaction to this backhanded insult was to shake his head and cry even harder.

          Preston looked at me in horrified disgust. “That’s the last thing he’s concerned with right now!”

          It was not my intention to increase Goldman’s pain, but I realized it was a rotten thing to say. Regrettably, Mitchell and I would not be the only brothers to cause Goldman grief. When Backstreet saw the pledge in the courtyard, he was beyond furious.

          “What the fuck is Goldman still doing here?” he yelled.

          “Relax, Backstreet,” Mitchell said and stared at his fraternity brother in shock. “The kid is just saying goodbye to his friends.”

          “Fuck that! Tell him to leave right fucking now!”

          Goldman flinched at these harsh words. It was cold thing to say to the freshman, but it was also a necessary thing to say. Goldman was like a stray dog that had been fed one too many times. If he was not subjected to open rebuke and hostility, he would have kept coming around to seek the company of people who did not really want him for a pet.

          The devastated young man left the fraternity house and walked back to his dormitory alone, ashamed, and broken.

Most of the brothers who voted to blackball the pledge felt some degree of guilt or pity. It was hard not to feel sympathy for a guy who was crying because he so desperately wanted to be a part of your organization. But deeper than this empathy for Goldman there simmered within our hearts a fire of joy that was our finest hour as brothers of Upsilon. We grinned like excited children and gave each others handshakes and pats on the back. It truly felt like we had finally taken a huge step in the right direction to improve the reputation of our fraternity.

My roommates and I watched the scene of excited younger brothers with a gloating feeling of satisfaction.

“That was awesome,” Blake said.

“Hell yeah, it was,” I agreed. “This is the turning point.”
          “You think?”

“Absolutely,” Backstreet said. “Goldman is just one kid, but blackballing him is a symbol of the new way things are gonna be from now on.”

I nodded and sagely proclaimed, “The old guard has lost its first crucial battle to the next generation of Upsilon brothers who will restore the fraternity to its former greatness.

Blake chuckled. “Hell yeah, yo. Too bad we couldn’t get rid of all three of them.”

We stared at Pebbles and Timmy as they followed their pledge brothers into the basement for their Sunday meeting. As the Assistant Pledge Marshall, I was supposed to be in there too, but I wanted to savor this moment for as long as possible.

“Hell Week.” I said. “We’ll get rid of them then.”

Backstreet nodded as he fired up a Marlboro Light cigarette. I noticed Blake was watching our roommate with newfound respect in his eyes.

“Yo, you stepped up tonight,” he said to Backstreet.

The short meathead shrugged and replied, “I did what had to be done.

“Nah, yo,” Blake giggled, “you went beyond the call of duty. You were boxing kids left and right!”

“You are definitely the Box Master,” I said with a grin.

Blake giggled again. “Don’t fuck with Backstreet. He’ll throw anybody out of here!”

Backstreet exhaled a cloud of smoke and spoke his next words with conviction. “If they don’t contribute, they’re fucking gone.”

“Mitchell stepped up too,” Blake said.

“Yeah, he did,” I replied. “Telling Goldman to his face like that….I don’t think I could’ve been the one to do it.”

Blake looked at me and laughed. “You’re the one who started all this shit.”

          “Yeah, I know…but I don’t hate the kid. I don’t even really dislike him. I just don’t want him in my fraternity.”
          Blake shook his head. “Nah, I hate that motherfucker.”

          I burst out laughing and stared at a group of older brothers who were quietly conferring about the blackballing of Goldman. It was certain they did not share our merry sentiment.

“Mitchell said Goldman starting begging,” Blake said.

“You mean Officer Mitchell?” I asked.

“Tah ha,” Blake giggled. “That motherfucker is gonna make one hell of a dickhead cop.”

“Where’d he go, anyways?” I asked.

“Beats me.”

“Over there,” Backstreet said. “Heading towards the parking lot.”

          “I’ll be back,” I said. “I’m gonna go thank him.”

I followed Mitchell down the stairs and into the parking lot. When I approached him, he was sitting behind the wheel of his red truck with a strange look on his face. Extending my hand through the window, I attempted to reassure him.

          “It had to be done,” I said. “This is not the right place for him. You did a good thing tonight.”

          Mitchell shook my hand. “Bro, it was ugly. The kid started begging.”

          “Are you surprised?”

          “Yeah…a little. I knew he’d cry like a bitch, but I didn’t think he’d beg.”

          “That must’ve made you feel like shit.”

          “Nah,” Mitchell replied as he absently rubbed his goatee. “To be honest, I kind of liked doing it.”

          I snorted. “You liked crushing his dreams?”

          “No. I like living ours. We did it, Bryce.”

          “Yeah,” I replied with an excited grin, “we did it.”

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