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Frat Life

In college, Frat Life was my thrill. It was my Pop Life until I graduated.

Today, March 10th, back in the Spring of 1991, I crossed the burning sands into the Black and Old Gold paradise of Alpha Land --- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. This happened at Cornell University --- Alpha Chapter, where the organization was founded in 1906, at exactly 9:40:49 am, or as I prefer to say crisply, "Nine-forty and forty-nine seconds." Out of an original line of six, my big brothers made fast work of the faint of heart and whittled my group down to three. Because this happened so early in my process (the first two weeks) my original number on this line (#3) dropped again and again until I became the first man on the line. At 5'11", I'm one of the taller #1s that did not pledge alone. For the remainder of my ten weeks "on line" I was at the mercy of a gang of Napoleonic, vertically challenged men (previous #1s who were my big brothers). There wasn't a day that passed while I was pledging that they didn't make me pay for being number one. But they also made me strong. When it was all over and done with, I had been freed from a very self-contained shell that had me fearful of pursuing the best in life for myself for fear of what others thought. It took a total of 14 weeks (4 weeks pre-pledging, 10 weeks pledging) for 22 men to put Eric the Fearful Nerd to death --- something I had been trying to do on my own in vain all my life.

After pledging, I came to know just how hard I could work against the odds to achieve what was necessary. I learned that if anything was stopping me from doing anything (within reason and the law) more times than not, it was myself. This lesson was not only applicable to frat life, but my life as a whole.

I can't say I still agree with pledging the way it was done back when I pledged, but it definitely made a better man out of me --- or rather brought forth the one who had always been there.

To my two sands, both of them doctors in Miami: Happy Anniversary.

The Alpha House on Cornell's campus. The place that birthed me.As a Sphinxman pledge, it was a house of horrors. As a Brother, it was HOME.

Even though it was the 90s, there really is no excuse for the A Phi A fishing hats. I'm in the middle, holding the clippers, giving out free haircuts. My number 2 is the shirtless one getting the haircut, and my number 3 is the other cat with the fishing hat. We were still new at this point. My line brothers' hair grew back quickly (we were bald when we pledged, and being bald back then wasn't cool). But mine didn't, even at the time of this pic it hadn't reached where it was prior to pledging. I should've known I was destined to rock a baldie...

A couple years and too many road trips, step shows, liquor, females, and too little studying later, I evolved into this guy (center in the dark brown fake Shearling wool jacket). I was an Alpha Man who didn't need to wear letters because I had them branded into my flesh in two places. I was a senior and too fly for my own good. I had yet to meet the real world and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

This one of my sands and I popped up on Facebook recently and I couldn't resist. I said I thought I was fly.

But eventually a man grows older and put the things of his youth behind him...

...and take new steps down new paths...hopefully not alone...

...and life becomes something different from anything & everything he's ever known...

...but as much as things do change...

...some things (wearing shades) are just destined to remain the same.

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