Sunday, November 11, 2012

No. 571 – Shock the Monkey

Performer: Peter Gabriel
Songwriter: Peter Gabriel
Original Release: Peter Gabriel (Security)
Year: 1982
Definitive Version: Plays Live, 1983

Being a Fiji pledge at Wabash wasn’t all bad. There were some good guys in the house, at least when they weren’t lining us up in the basement. No matter how much you might hate the actives as a whole, you couldn’t hate some guys.

One of those guys was Tommy, who was a junior. I don’t think he had it in him to be a jerk. He was funny and cool and loved the newfangled MTV channel that was on almost exclusively on the house TV in the basement.

One night, as a particularly lame party—meaning few women showed up—wound down, a few guys ended up crazily dancing around the room to this song on the stereo. Tommy was the instigator. God only knows how much he had to drink that night.

Other times, the parties were pretty good, like the one where I met Corrie. Corrie was an Alphi Phi at Butler, a sophomore (an older woman!), and we hit it off right away.

Corrie was known around the Fiji house, because she had dated a pledge from the previous year who had transferred to Indiana, so apparently she had a thing for Wabash Fiji freshmen. I didn’t care as long as I was the only one who fit that description at the current time.

Anyway, Corrie and I began dating almost as soon as I got to Wabash, just before the hammer was brought down on the pledges. In fact, a couple of guys in the house made a road trip to Butler—Tommy was one, as was I—the night before Hell Night, and Corrie told me later that someone pulled her aside and told her not to tell me what was about to happen.

We dated for a couple months, and it was nice to have someone who was around—and particularly who wasn’t, so I had an excuse to get the heck away from the Fiji house on party nights. The freshman, of course, had to clean up—immediately as soon as the party was over, regardless of whether it ended at 1 or at 3. And one can clean up puke in the bathroom only so many times before you start to look for any excuse to not be around.

On the nights where I went to see Corrie, which was most of the time, we’d then spend the night at her parents’ house in Brownsburg, which was just off I-74 in between Indianapolis, which, of course, is where Butler is, and Crawfordsville, Wabash’s home. Two things I remember was that her dad was mayor of Brownsburg and he home-brewed beer, which made him the first person I knew of who did that.

When we spent the night there, we stayed in separate bedrooms, of course. However, on the nights when she’d come to Wabash, we slept together, which was a first. There was no sex, well, OK, we didn’t go all the way (she was too chaste or I was too inexperienced to make it happen or a combination of both), but it still was kind of nice.

By October 1982, our relationship had run its course. She was a Michigan fan; I was Ohio State (at the time), so there was that. But more important, I had reconnected with Beth.

Actually, we never really unconnected, but when I went to Wabash, I played down our relationship, because, one, I didn’t want my fellow pledges to have to memorize her name—a requirement at any moment was to run down a fellow pledge’s information or have your rules ripped—and, two, yes, I wanted to play the field a bit.

Beth was a prodigious letter writer, and I loved getting them, but we never talked on the phone, because I knew we’d have no privacy—a pledge sat at a nearby table all night to answer the phone and take messages—and, as I mentioned, I wanted her to be on the down-low.

Well, one night, Beth took it upon herself to call, and I couldn’t deny to myself that I loved her … even if I didn’t say it out loud. So, I couldn’t two-time her.

The next time Corrie and I saw each other was the last—a fall barnyard party around Butler. I was quiet most of the night, because I had to figure out how to deliver the bad news. Well, it turned out, she did it for me. She also reached the conclusion that we weren’t going anywhere, and it was time to move on. I concurred, and I thanked her for our time together.

And in all seriousness, and in retrospect, I still feel grateful for that time. Corrie was a very positive outlet—about the only one—at a time when I really needed one.

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