Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pronunciation Key

About 15 years ago I pledged a fraternity (yes, a fraternity) as a freshman. There were six of us in our pledge class. 2 men, 4 women. For the purposes of this story I have to name them MS, MG, A, P, S and then me.

We decided to declare our individuality by spray painting our letters on a giant bedsheet and hanging it from the front of the fine arts building. Three things to note: the fine arts building faces one of the busiest streets on campus. The front of that building houses a professional art gallery. The night we chose to hang the sheet was one of the windiest that year. 

Six of us gained access to the roof of the fine arts building about 11pm. We roped the sheet to the roof, and watched it blow right back at us. We needed ballast. We sent MS and S to the ground to tie the bottom to some bushes. Only a few minutes after they arrived the red and blue lights made their appearance. MS and S were sitting ducks. The 4 of us on the roof took off running. 

[Security guards from the school were "watching rabbits" on a boring night when they saw a group of people they assumed to be attempting to break into the school's art gallery. They called the police.]

P and A escaped quickly to the men's dormitory adjacent to the fine arts building. MG and I couldn't access that building so we started running. Not surprisingly, I was the ringleader of this operation and I was wearing a backpack full of our supplies (mainly rattling spray cans). We ran across the roof to a ladder toward the back of the building. I jumped down the ladder and watched MG start to slowly climb toward me. There was a searchlight scanning the roof. It waved above her head like a menacing T-Rex in a Spielburg movie. At the last second she jumped down and we were both hidden by an open door. 

The door led to a staircase inside the building that dropped us right inside the green room of the theater. "Huh, didn't know that door led here!" 

We snuck out a side door and tried to run-for-it toward the back parking lot. Cue another sweeping searchlight. I was running in front. I turned toward the light and began to put my hands up in the classic "don't shoot" posture. MG shoved me hard in the back and we both crashed down behind a berm on our hands and knees and crawled quickly the rest of the way to the parking lot. We hid under a car. 

The parking lot was a terrible hiding place. We crawled through it until we reached the next street. 

Did you guys know I had a problem with running? Well, we had to run. And we ran. We ran the long and far way around campus. We circled the entire school and arrived in our own women's dorm at about 12:30am. We rushed up to the room of MS and knocked on the door to find out where she was. Her roommate answered that she was not home. 

"Uh, she might be in jail," we dejectedly admitted. 

"That would be good for her," was the reply. 

MG and I went to the bathroom to attend to our wounds (cuts, scrapes and a LOT of road rash). Hours later S and MS arrived in their respective rooms after having been questioned by police. 

The next day we were hauled into the office of the Fine Arts Director. Our names had been handed from the police to the school. Since we had no intention of stealing any artwork or defacing school property they never filed a formal report. We were reprimanded, but not disciplined. 

In the end I found out that the list of names was drawn out of the memories of the pledges, who, as a part of initiation, had been instructed to learn the spelling (but not the pronunciation) of each of their fellow members. 

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