I wasn't just a little nervous; I was in absolute panic over the unknown that I was about to face.
My name is John and I'm a freshman at Grayson College. Most people haven't heard of Grayson, but it's existed for over fifty years. The college is located in the Northeast and has demanding entrance requirements—top grades in high school, very high SAT scores, extra curricular activity a definite plus. The only exception to their purely quantitative admission criteria is that past family alumni count in the admission criteria. My older sister had graduated from Grayson four years earlier, and she strongly encouraged me to go to her old school. I'm sure her letter to the admission committee helped, since I was accepted.
Grayson is intellectually challenging with a slightly liberal tilt politically and a very liberal tilt sexually. Its policy on sexual activity is well past the point of condoning and strongly approaches encouragement. There are twenty-four hour visitation rights from the first day. Freshmen have to room with a person of the same sex, but after the first year you have the option of a roommate of your choice regardless of gender. The college swimming pool is clothing optional, as is the sun deck above the gym.
The first semester at college was a heavy scholastic load for all the freshmen. In addition to the normal basic introductory courses that would weed out the lazy and the misfits, each freshman was required to take an intensive sex education course. Heavy reading, a term paper, and videos were all part of the class. Women were strongly encouraged to begin birth control and all students were required to have STD tests periodically.
I was buried that first semester—homesick, barely passing some of my classes because of poor study habits, and no real friends since shyness seems to be one of my more dominant character traits.
My shyness came in two categories. With men I rarely initiated a conversation, but once I became comfortable with them, most of my inhibitions would disappear. With women my shyness was a total disaster; when I met the same woman the second time, I was as big a klutz as if we had just met. I was an anomaly since my whole family was outgoing except for the youngest child, which happened to be me.
Halfway through the first semester things began to improve as my study habits got better and college life slowly became comfortable, or at least predictable. However, nothing cured my shyness.
Finals came and I scored higher than I expected, and when the semester ended I headed home for the holidays. On Christmas Eve we had the traditional family party.
My older sister Carol, the Grayson graduate, was at the party. She was a great older sister, always laughing and kidding, and a bit of an exhibitionist. She had a terrific figure with big breasts that she always flaunted to tease me. When she pushed me to go to Grayson she kept telling me that if any college could get me out of my personal little shell, it would be her college. She pointed out that she met her husband Gene at Grayson.
When she saw me she asked, "Well doesn't your big sister get a hug?"
I started to hug her and she pulled me tight and ground my chest against her breasts and giggled when I blushed. She teased, "Got you again; you're so cute when you blush."
Later in the evening Carol asked me, "Are you going to rush the clubs next semester?"
There are no fraternities or sororities at Grayson. The equivalent was the clubs. The college rule was that there couldn't be more than forty members per club. Although the club could have a house for meetings and parties, dormitory living was still required of all students. What had evolved over the decades was that a club was either all male or all female, but each male club had a female club partnership. My sister had been an Omega; the partner male club for Omega was Alpha.
Grayson did not allow club membership during the first semester on the theory that too many new and demanding requirements were being put on the incoming freshman already, and so rush was delayed until the beginning of the second semester.
I blushed a little and said to Carol, "I don't think any club would take me; I barely know the people in my dorm."
Carol teased, "The old shyness thing again I bet."
I nodded yes.
She said, "Before you say no to the clubs without even trying, promise me that you at least go to rush just for the experience. And if you do, you have to choose Alpha as one of the ones you try."
I muttered something that might have been a yes, but Carol kept bugging me until she finally got me to promise I would go to rush.
I did rush. It was a three-night affair. The first night I went to four different clubs spending about forty-five minutes at each club. I was nervous and quiet at the first two clubs, but opened up at the third club, and actually enjoyed myself a little at the fourth club, which was Alpha.
Not surprisingly, I was not invited back to either of the first two clubs, but I did receive an invitation from the third club and from Alpha.
The second night went a little better; I spent two hours at each club. At Alpha I got into the middle of a somewhat spirited political discussion and held my own against some of the club members. Towards the end of the night I met a senior named Dave who was extremely friendly and had me talking about my career goals, courses I was taking, and my impression of Grayson so far. We got along fine—not as a senior talking to a freshman, but rather as two friends having a discussion.
I waited nervously during the third day. The third club didn't invite me back for the final night, but Alpha sent me an invitation for the last night of rush. I spent four hours at Alpha that night and was comfortable talking to the club members, most of whom I now knew by sight and some by name.
During the night a trivia contest had started and I was invited to join in. Trivia is one of my things, so it turned out well for me as I scored more points for my side than any other person. Dave came over to watch the game and eventually said, "Okay guys. This is the last night of rush so kill the game and make sure you talk to everyone that we invited."
He looked at me and grinned as he said, "And John, make sure you speak to each of the club brothers before you go. This is the last night."
I went back to the dorm that evening and thought, "I really hope they invite me to join Alpha. They're nice guys."
I checked my mailbox three times the next day. Finally, the mail came and there was a small envelope included in my mail—it was an invitation to join Alpha!
The Alpha pledge class met the next Saturday morning. We were told the rules of the club, what was expected of us as pledges, and that we would become full-fledged club brothers after about eight weeks of pledging. We were all assigned a big brother—mine was Dave who also happened to be the Vice-President of Alpha.
Big brothers were responsible for us in many ways. Scholastically they made sure that pledging did not interfere with our studies. If grades started to slip, they found tutors. They also assigned pledge projects. Most pledge projects were functional. For example, one weekend we would pick up trash along the highway that bordered the school. Usually the pledge class of Omega would join us in whatever project we had, so gradually the pledges of Alpha and Omega got to know each other.
Another weekend we visited elderly people in the local nursing home bringing them flowers, crossword books and other useful things. For that activity the pledges of Omega again joined us so that each room visited had an Alpha male and an Omega female. I was paired up with a pledge named Linda who was pretty and outgoing. She had me laughing a few times, but my normal shyness kept rearing its ugly head and I knew she thought I was pretty much of a nothing.
One night the pledge class had to entertain the Alpha members with songs and skits. We were all terrible singers, but the skits gave us the opportunity to poke fun at the club members without getting into trouble.
I had an idea of a skit that would pick on Dave; it was a huge success and everybody laughed at Dave causing him to point at me and say, "What goes around, comes around pledge John; don't forget that."
Every two weeks I met with Dave to review my progress. At one meeting he assigned me as a tutor to help another pledge who was having a difficult time in Calculus. He gave me high marks for enthusiasm on pledge projects. His one negative comment came at the end of the meeting when he said, "We all have noticed one problem that you have. Do you know what is?"
"I guess I'm a little too shy," I muttered.
"A little," grinned Dave to take out the sting. "That's like saying the Titanic hit an ice cube. At the last social with Omega, how many girls did you talk to and how many did you dance with?"
I blushed and answered, "Maybe four girls and I danced twice."
"Was one of those girls my girlfriend Judy," John asked.
"Yea," I mumbled caught in a little lie.
.... There is more of this story ...