“These are the guys we want.”



          “These kids fucking suck,” I said.

          “Seriously,” Moody agreed. “What the fuck is wrong with this year’s freshman class?”

          “All the good kids rushed in the fall,” Mitchell answered. “That’s how it always is.”

          “Yeah, Moody,” Fish said, his freckled face lighting up with a grin, “that’s why we got stuck with tools like you last spring.”

          Moody chuckled, but did not feel the need to protest. The brown-haired, blue-eyed alpha male knew his membership was highly valued by our brotherhood. He was intelligent, he was athletic, and he was sociable. And perhaps most important of all—he was a face guy.

          “What about that kid in the black shirt?” Mitchell asked. “The one standing next to Mendez.”

          “Who?” Moody asked with a snort. “The fat kid?”

          “Nah, right behind him. That tall guy talking to Lorie.”

          I stared out the window overlooking the crowded front porch deck and observed a tall, lanky kid with spiky dark hair. He was a good-looking young man who seemed confident and relaxed as he conversed with the girl.

          “His name is Mike or Matt,” I said. “He seemed like a cool guy when we did his interview, but he said he isn’t interested in rushing. He’s just tagging along with his two boys who’re fucking tools.”

          “What about that big guy?” Fish asked. “Right over there in the white button-down.”

          “Hell no,” Mitchell said, his hand absently rubbing his brown goatee.

          “Hell no,” Moody repeated. “He’s some kind of power lifter, but his receding hairline is terrible from all the steroids he must be doing.”

          My eyes continued to scan over the crowd, searching for possible candidates. I saw a good-looking pair of young men dressed in blue jeans and untucked button-downs.

          “What about those two kids from Smith Hall?” I asked my brothers. “The guys Rowdy and Mendez interviewed tonight.”

          Moody shrugged. “When I talked to them, they weren’t sure they wanted to join a fraternity, but they’re gonna stick around and come to the after-party.”

          “Good,” Mitchell said. “If they’re willing to stick around here instead of going to other houses, then they’re definitely interested. Let’s get them drunk as hell tonight and introduce them to as many girls as possible.”

          Fish nodded and asked, “What do you guys think about that one kid the older brothers keep pushing for?”

          Mitchell smirked. “Pruitt’s friend from High School?”


          “That kid is fucking lame. The rednecks just want some new blood to join their clique and suck their dicks.”

          “Fuck the older brothers,” Moody said bitterly. “I don’t want him just because they do want him.”

          I chuckled with a wide smile spread across my face. It was the first semester the younger brothers were in charge of Rush. Mitchell was the Rush Chairman and he was fully enforcing the elitist recruitment strategy of quality over quantity. Our strict standards were not being welcomed by the older brothers because we were rejecting many of the guys they wanted to be offered rush bids.

          Fish snickered and pointed. “Look, look, look! Jacob is axing that fat kid with glasses.”

          “Bout time,” Mitchell snorted. “That fucking turd has been hanging out all night, hoping we’ll give his fat ass a bid.”

          We silently watched Jacob escort the unwanted kid away from the large crowd of brothers, girls, and rushees on the deck. Jacob was a tall, red-haired brother with the reputation of a heavy drinker who freely spoke his mind. He was also known for being someone who did not shy away from confrontation, a trait he demonstrated one afternoon when he beat the shit out of some kid on the front staircase of Strozier Library. Anybody can fight drunk, but fighting on campus in the middle of a sober afternoon took balls. Jacob was thus the perfect candidate to fulfill the role of the Axe, a Rush duty that required him to blackball unwanted rushees.

          Watching Jacob escort the rushee away from our house reminded me of the ugly nature of fraternities. I could not hear what my brother said to the kid, but knew it was probably something like: “Sorry, this is just not the right place for you. You need to leave.”

          The fat kid’s shoulders slumped with shame as he walked away from our house. Jacob turned around, glanced up at the window, and gave us two middle fingers.

“Asshole,” Moody chuckled.

“The biggest,” Fish agreed.

I joined in the laughter of my friends, but my head shook in sympathy for the banished rushee.

          “Hey, Mitchell,” I asked, “weren’t you the Axe last semester?”


          “How do you guys do that shit? I’d feel like a dick telling them to leave.”

          Mitchell snorted. “Sure, Bryce. You feel bad about telling people to their face they’re not wanted, but you have no problem punching people in the face.”

          A sly smile formed on my lips. “Point taken. But still…” I gave my friend a small shrug. “Somehow it seems different. The kids I punch deserve that shit. Most of them anyways…”

          Mitchell chuckled. “Most of them.”

“You gotta axe kids like that,” Moody declared frankly. “Toolbag rushees hanging around here makes us look bad.”

No one argued. With nearly twenty fraternities vying for new recruits, Rush Week was a highly competitive process that demanded ruthless discrimination.

“Yo, here we go,” Fish said keenly with his eyes staring out the window. “Those two rugby players from last night are back. These guys are studs.”

          We all looked at the sidewalk entrance where Diego was greeting two young men. It was always smart to put someone in the greeter position that rushees would instantly respect. In other words, it was a face-guy position that required affable social skills. Diego was perfect for the job with his laidback New York coolness and his handsome Italian looks. The two rushees shook Diego’s hand and definitely seemed to be responding to his charm

          “Hell yeah,” I said. “These are definitely the guys we want.”

          “Alright, Bryce,” Mitchell instructed, “you go talk to them for a few minutes and then bring them up to your living room. Moody and I’ll be in there, ready to offer them bids.”

          “Cool. I’m on it.”

          I exited the apartment and descended the staircase to the Formal Living Room. When I stepped out the front door of my fraternity house, I bumped into the stout figure of Big Country. The handsome young man from Georgia was usually a cheerful kid, but tonight his voice was laced with bitterness.

“What the fuck, Bryce?” he asked. “Why hasn’t my little brother been given a bid?”

          I played stupid. “He hasn’t been given one yet?”


          “Has he been interviewed?”

          Big Country nodded. “Rowdy and Rivera interviewed him earlier tonight, but he shouldn’t even have to be interviewed. He’s a legacy. So why hasn’t he been given a fucking bid yet?”

          I anxiously rubbed the back of my shaved head. This was not a question I wanted to answer. Big Country’s step-brother had recently transferred to FSU, but offering the quirky young man a rush bid had been strongly opposed by Mitchell, me, and the rest of the brothers serving on the Rush Committee. Sharing this harsh truth with Big Country was not something I had the heart to do.

          “I don’t know, man,” I finally answered. “It’s out of my hands. Talk to Mitchell about it.”

          Before he could reply, I wandered off to search the crowded deck for the rugby players. Several young women in tight jeans distracted me, but I eventually found the duo conversing with Blake and Backstreet. The latter saw me approach and stepped forward to greet me.

          Bryce,” he whispered, “we need to give these kids a bid. Both of them got approved at the Rush meeting tonight when we went over their questioner sheets.”

          I nodded. “Yeah, we recognized them from upstairs. That’s why I came down here. I’m about to take them up to Mitchell.”  

Backstreet flicked his tongue ring and said, “The girls at the door liked them. They wrote Luke and Tom on their nametags with huge bubble letters.”

          I grinned. “That code is genius. I’ve been ignoring every rushee I see with his name written in tiny letters.”

          We turned around to face Blake and the rushees and I sized up the two potential recruits. Luke was about 6ft. tall with dark hair he wore in a short fade. His roommate Tom was also six feet tall, but his crew-cut blonde hair and fair complexion contrasted sharply with Luke’s darker features. They were both good-looking and muscular.

          “Hey, Bryce,” Blake asked, “do you remember Luke and Tom?”

          “Yeah, the rugby players, right?”

          The two young men nodded and I extended a firm handshake to both of them.

“What’s going on, Luke? Good to see you again, Tom.”

          “What’s up, Darren?” Luke replied.

          “How you doing, Darren?” Tom asked.

          “I’m glad you boys came back,” I said with a friendly smile. “Did you get a chance to stop by any of the other houses?”

          “Yeah,” Luke replied, “we saw a few last night and some more tonight.”

          Tom grinned. “The Sigmas had the Hooters Girls over there serving wings.”

          Blake immediately set his Pepsi down on the deck railing and gave us a big smile.

“Hell yeah,” he said jokingly. “I’m gonna go there right now and pretend I’m rushing so I can eat wings and look at big titties.”

          The rushees laughed and I made a mental note to tell Mitchell about the Sigma Rush strategy.

Backstreet decided to share a story with the rushees about banging out a Hooters girl. I had never heard the story before which meant it could have been bullshit, but Luke and Tom seemed to be responding to his macho charisma. It was time to extend the invitation.

          “Do you two want to come upstairs?” I asked. “There are some brothers up there who’d like to speak with you.”

          “Definitely,” Tom answered.

          “Sure,” Luke replied with a knowing smile of what this likely meant.

          I nodded towards the house. “Follow me.”

          The rugby players trailed me into the house and up into my apartment. It was your typical frat pad—wooden paddles hung on the wall, empty liquor bottles stood on top of the entertainment center, and a fish tank that had not been cleaned in months sat in the corner. There was an electric guitar mounted on the wall and next to it hung a poster of Korn and the deceased rapper Tupac Shakur using middle fingers to flip-off the camera. Mitchell and Moody were sitting on the couch, the lights were dimmed, and there were candles lit on the coffee table to signify the ceremonial status of what was about to happen next.

          “What’s going on, guys?” Moody asked.

          Mitchell smiled warmly. “What’s up, boys?”

          Both brothers were dressed in black slacks and button-down dress shirts with the sleeves rolled up. They rose from the couch to shake hands with the rushees before inviting the young men to sit on the adjacent couch. Luke and Tom took a seat, and sensing the seriousness of the moment, they sat forward with elbows resting on their knees.

          The Rush Chairman spoke first. “I’ll get right to the point, gentlemen. The reason we invited you up here tonight is because we want to offer you a bid.”

          Moody smoothly followed. “You have all the qualities we’re looking for in a pledge. You’re intelligent, athletic, sociable—and you guys are studs.”

          Mitchell spoke again. “Rowdy and I did your interviews last night and thought highly of both of you. We would’ve offered you a bid, but we don’t like to give out bids on the first night. But you’re definitely the kind of guys we’re looking for to become brothers of Upsilon.”

          He reached out to the coffee table and picked up one of two small golden pins engraved with the Greek letter of Upsilon.

          “I have these pledge pins for you,” Mitchell continued, “and if you accept them, we’ll take you downstairs and put them on you in front of the brotherhood.”

          Moody hedged the offer. “You don’t have to accept your bid tonight and it’s good all week long, but if you want to join Upsilon, then we can make you pledges right now.”

          The two rushees glanced at each other and nodded their heads. Dark-haired Luke spoke first.

          “We’ve been to other fraternity houses and we think this is the best brotherhood we’ve seen.”

          My eyebrows arched in amusement. If this was truly their opinion, then the two rushees must have made the same mistake I made as a freshman in failing to visit many houses.

          Blond-haired Tom nodded his head. “You guys seem like the most laidback, most diverse group of guys on campus. We were turned off by all the clones we saw at the other fraternity houses.”

“Yeah,” Mitchell chuckled. “They look, talk, and dress the exact same.”

          “We also love sports,” Luke said and shifted his gaze to the biceps I was showing off in a tight polo. “Athletics seem to be real big around here.”

          “Definitely,” Moody replied. “And we play to win. If you guys are good, you’ll start.”

          Mitchell glanced towards me. “Bryce, you got anything to add, big man?”

          I flashed my most charming smile at the pledges and said what every fraternity member says during Rush Week.

          “The only thing you guys need to know about Upsilon is that we party harder than any other fraternity and we pull the best-looking girls on campus.”

          Our sales pitch worked. Tom and Luke accepted their bids and we took the young men downstairs one at a time to formally introduce them as new members of Upsilon. I went first with a cow bell, striking it with a wooden drumstick as I marched down the stairs and out the front door. Luke followed right behind me and the Rush Chairman trailed behind him. When I reached the center of the deck, I stopped and turned around to face the excited freshman.

          Mitchell stuck the pledge pin in Luke’s shirt, raised his fist above the young man’s head, and yelled, “Hooooooooo!”

          A rowdy pack of brothers swarmed the new pledge, threw their hands up above his head, and proceeded to do the Upsilon tribal chant:


Highty tighty God almighty,

who the hell are we?

We’re the men of Upsilon,

the best fraternity!


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