The Black Beast & the Blast in the East
An Impromptu Trip During my First Year in College
|These articles, stories and accounts of my life, as I recall them, and are copywrited. Unauthorized use will be pursued at my determination, to the degree that I am inclined. Any hard feeling caused by memories that don't match yours are unfortunate and you'll just have to get over it! Feel free to contact me if you have a request for their use.|
The lack of wisdom in my youth never ceases to amaze me. I had just pledged the Sigma Zeta fraternity at Wilmington College in Wilmington , Ohio and this was the third meeting of the new pledges. We had been to the preliminary meeting where we all got together and the existing fraternity brothers acted as if they gave a rat's ass about us and were explaining the great reasons to being a member of their fraternity. That was followed by the meeting where they began the hazing and giving us as large a ration of bullshit as they thought they could get away with, and provided the wood for us to make paddles that we were to carve and paint ourselves. Along with the paint and decorating with the frat colors, we were instructed to provide a number of blank lines on the paddle in accordance with the number of existing frat members.
I had played soccer that summer while working with some of the immigrant students at a local factory and a couple of them were in the fraternity, hence the invitation, and I was expecting to get some sort of ‘break' because of my sports association with these guys. I could not have been more wrong. In hindsight, I reasoned that they did not want to be thought of as having given us a break, and so they actually gave a little more grief so not to appear to be giving us any leniency or slack.
It was at this third meeting that our paddles were inspected and approved for workmanship, and at that time it was also explained the reason for the lines on the paddles was that we were expected to explain to each member why we wanted to be part of their fraternity, and if we were successful in convincing them that we were worthy, they would tell us to drop our drawers and they would whack our ass with the paddle and then sign it for us. One of the duties of the new pledges was to secure this signature from each of the members on our paddle to make sure that we had taken the time to meet each of the existing frat brothers.
It was expected that all the signatures were to be applied to each pledges paddles by the end of the fifth meeting which would be two weeks away. They mentioned that the first pledge to get all the signatures would be rewarded. I have always been slightly aggressive in trying to reach my goals and I thought I would try to get as many of these paddling situations out of the way as soon as I could and began right away to get with the program. I started by approaching the fellow soccer team members, and they obliged with the chit-chat and promptly reddened my ass, while singing their praises of my soccer skills and chuckling at how red my ass was already. These were not little ‘play' paddles and I found these encounters quite uncomfortable, but vowed not to show any hesitation nor voice any complaints.
I did what I could to approach as many guys as I could that evening, because I figured that it was going to be easier to contact them when they were in a group and in the frat house and I would not have to try so hard to figure out who was actually in the fraternity while walking around the campus. It was during this part of the evening that I met a fellow pledge named Scotty, as we were not always in a position to chat with existing frat members, so we started talking with each other about what ever we could to take our minds off our ensuing endeavors.
I had eased off to get the signature of a random frat brother, and upon my return to chat with Scotty, I was quick to inform him of the value of holding your testicles out of the way while being paddled. It was becoming apparent that those prick brothers weren't going to give us any advice on protecting ourselves. To this day, I can remember the discomfort that that causes. Scotty and I arrived at the conclusion that it would be best to go ahead and get these damn beatings out of the way as soon as possible because the anticipation of the impending pain was almost as bad as the actually paddling. Almost!
I made the decision that I was going to get them all tonight if I could stand it. I began standing in line to talk with each of the members and just holding my pants up with my belt to make getting ready for the next paddling quicker and easier. As I kept getting more and more signatures I began keeping my underwear lowered as well because as the paddling progressed my ass was beginning to bleed and they were starting to stick to my ass and each time I pulled them down it pulled at the very tender skin areas. It soon became aware to the others what I was trying to do, so the frat brothers just started lining up and kept paddling my ass in rapid order to get it over with.
I think some of them might have begun to feel badly about it. There were 38 members of that fraternity, and as I got closer to the bottom lines of the paddle, I think they were starting to have mercy on me and sped up the timing and the signatures until they all have signed my paddle. I had to get out of my underwear all together because they had become a bloody mess, and I just held my pants up loosely with my hands. The ‘award' was given to me in the presentation of the ‘Honor Paddle', a paddle about five feet tall and apparently held some significance that I cannot recall. I was told to pick two or three other pledges that were to act as guards of me and the paddle, as pledging members of rival fraternities would actively try to steal it from that week's guardian. I chose Scotty and two other pledges.
I went back to the dormitory, threw away my underwear, washed the blood of my own paddle and slept on my stomach for the better part of the following week.
Each morning, I would go the frat house with a friend and tote that damn board during the class part of the day, and return it to the frat house before going to soccer practice. All went well with that week and it was apparent that I was more than likely going to be chosen to join the fraternity, as well as my new friend Scotty.
Scotty was not involved in soccer, but we had several classes together and we shared an interest in music and I had tried to form a small band to pass away the spare time. I fancied myself at the time to be a lead guitarist, but really wanted to play drums. Scotty played rhythm guitar and was actually a better guitar player that I was, but it was my band. The band was called ‘Wee Will and the Wont's'. Go figure!
We spent a lot of time around each other, and we were sitting in a Government class the day after the surprise conclusion of pledge season, and were proudly sporting our new Sigma Zeta fraternity jackets. My ass had long since healed and I was back to sitting in class, although we were sitting in the rear of this particular class, early on a Thursday afternoon, and he leaned over and asked if I wanted to go home with him this weekend. It had been a stressful time with all the pledge activities and soccer practices, but the timing was right and I said ‘let's go', not having any idea as to where Scotty lived.
We both got up in the middle of class and walked out the rear door before the instructor could get around to asking us what we were doing. As we headed towards the dorm to get our clothes, he mentioned that he lived in Scotch Plains , New Jersey . Holy Shit, I thought. ‘How far away is that?' I asked, and he replied that it was about 10-11 hours away, but he would help me with gas money and off we went. I had just bought a used set of drums that were still in the back seat of my spiffy 1950 Dodge two door coupe, and we just threw in a few clothes that we had put in paper bags, crawled in and headed on our way.
The old Dodge was pea green when I bought it, but I had painted it black myself, and further beautified it by hand painting silver flames on the hood and trunk, and I was pretty proud of it as we headed out of Wilmington, and pointed the ol' black beast to the East and began the longest journey that I had ever been on in my own car. The old car used a little oil, but I had plenty in the trunk and we pooled our gas and food money in a small sandwich bag and put it in the glove box. This was way cool, two men of the world out exploring new territory, having just been validated by a collective group of cool fraternity guys. We each had on our new fraternity jackets and I had just received my soccer team uniform, and we both had our guitars and amps in the trunk.
We joked around and drove and drove around and joked some more until late in the night, when finally, the sleepless nights of studying and pledge related activities were taking their toll and we were getting to the point where we were both so tired that neither of us could drive any further. We were going to sleep in the car until morning and stopped at a small diner for a burger and fries to discuss the plan and get our bearings from the map that we had brought with us, and over dinner, we discovered that we didn't have that much further to travel and decide to crawl back in the ol' black beast, looking forward to getting to sleep in a real bed that night.
We finally arrived at his mothers house at about 2:30 in the morning, and after Scotty found the hidden key in the flower pot, we started to take in our clothes and instruments, and get ready for bed, when I had the idea that I did not want my newly acquired drum set to stay outside in the car in a strange town. He agreed and he began helping me bring them in. I asked where I should put them and he suggested that I set them over on the large landing that was against the wall, and as I unloaded them, I began to set them in place similarly to the position they would be in if you were going to play them, being cautious to keep as quiet as possible so that neither of us would wake his mother, who was sleeping upstairs.
When we got them all in the house and I had them set up on the landing, I had to use the bathroom, and while I was dispensing the processed hamburger and French fries, Scotty had further arraigned the drums and when I returned, he was sitting on the stool acting as if he was going to play them. As I approached him, thinking we were going to find some place to lie down, he say he had to take a crap as well, and we'd go upstairs when he got finished.
After taking off my shoes, I took a look at the drum set and decided that I'd take a seat at the stool and fake my way threw an imaginary song that included a few rifts, an occasional drum roll and better yet, a drum solo. As I flipped the sticks and fondled the base pedal with my foot, my enthusiasm grew and I kind of forgot where I was. I had accidentally hit the symbol, reached over to quiet it and began to actually rattle the snare drum and throw down a rim shot, and just as my right hand positioned the stick for the rim shot, all hell broke loose!
There was a bright flash of light, an extremely loud boom and the feeling that some one had thrown a bunch of marbles at me. When I opened my eyes, I still had both sticks in my hand and I could see the symbol, but there was not a drum to be found, and as I looked around, all I could see was a pile of blue metal flake pieces and metal parts all over the place, and when I looked down it looked like I had on one red sock. Apparently, Scottie had not taken the time to tell his mother that we were coming home for a visit, and the little nudge on the cymbal had alerted her to the fact she had visitors, and by the time I began pounding skin, she had found the loaded shotgun that she kept in the closet and just pointed it down the stairs and pulled the trigger.
To tell the truth, that scared the living' shit outa' me. When I looked around again, I saw that some of the ‘scatter' had destroyed the base and the tom, knocked over the snare, but some how the Zildjian had escaped any harm. Unfortunately more of the ‘scatter' had torn my right shirt sleeve, scratched up my arm in a couple of places and left several white scars on the right paint leg of my blue jeans. I was beginning to feel some discomfort on my right foot, and looking down again, I was again aware that my socks did not match. The ‘red' one was the result of a growing amount of blood oozing from a collection of buckshot that had found its way to my right foot.
Scotty started to laugh right away, and it took me a few minutes to realize the humor in it all, but his mother had yet to see the lighter side of this issue, not yet realizing who it was that had disturbed her in the middle of the night and had called the police and was staying in her bedroom upstairs, with her shotgun.
The cops showed up momentarily and the issue was quickly resolved, when Scotty's mom realized who was downstairs, but she never did see any humor in it all, and as she and Scotty discussed the event, she continued to show her displeasure with him about not telling her he was coming home, and giving me a ration of crap about the damage to the walls near the stair landing. By the time the cops left, they were getting pretty heated with each other, and as I started cleaning up the mess it began to get light outside, so I suggested that it might be better to ride the beast again, rather than argue with one. He reluctantly agreed, and we started back home right then.
As we were buying gas in Somerset , Pennsylvania , it became apparent that we might not have enough money to both buy enough gas to get home and eat. We tried to get home without eating, but had not eaten since yesterday and were getting pretty damn hungry. We were able to get as far as Wheeling, West Virginia before deciding that we had to have something to eat, and we pulled into a gas station to top off the gas tank, and as I was talking to the attendant about how much gas to put in the car, Scotty went inside and helped himself to a box of Saltine crackers, and we hurries away, headed West with a terrible feeling of guilt. It was the only time I remember intentionally taking advantage of some one else. Payback was the fact that we didn't have anything to drink and the remaining trip was very uncomfortable until we reached Columbus where we decided we had enough to stop and get a quart of milk that we shared on the remaining trip.