The Frat Party Scene

James wearing the Asshole hat

James wearing the Asshole hat

Random Observation/Comment #107: I always wondered about the contrast of lifestyles and work ethics between Cooper Union students and students at other colleges.  I feel like a frog stuck in a well thinking the sky is only as big as the surface area I see when I look up (old Chinese fairy tale).  I’ve never experienced that feeling of indifference towards studies, and a complete devotion towards that over-booked class of Drinkology 101.  This weekend was that chance to wear their shoes.  I lived that alternative future and realized that I would probably never be able to continue this lifestyle for more than two weeks in a semester.  I had an itch to do something with my time, and the apparent lack of any pulse of activity put me into a comatose state.  My brain slowly deteriorated as I lost a sense of willpower.  The hunger has always been strong, but on that opened futon and warm comforter, I loss that desire to learn something new for the day.  I felt so satisfied just lying there; drifting in and out of sleep.  Laziness was not completely my problem – It was the fact that I rationalized my laziness with some sense of earning this time to let myself go.  Shouldn’t I do what I consider relaxing?  Do I need to conform to drinking, socializing, or worse – doing nothing?

It wasn’t difficult to spot the house where the party was being held.  It was surrounded by drunken college students and radiated with the smell of alcohol and the sound of rap/hip-hop.  Students in their late teens ignored the temperature and wore what they considered to be in-style.  I used to understand them, but my eye of judgment has transformed.  Now I just give them these confused stares and blatantly say, “Aren’t you cold?”

I could clearly distinguish the jocks from the wannabes and the stuck-up girls from the slutty ones with a quick glance.  I held a light keg beer in a red plastic cup and tried to stay away from the continuous flow of human traffic.  We stood in a corner in the kitchen and chatted about random things.  I wasn’t particularly drawn into the conversations, but this environment kept me observant.  I had never seen so many people inside a house.  There were a lot of various noises, but I’m not really sure who was making it because everyone I saw seemed to be following the trend of split second glances.  The drunken messes became our entertainment, but I felt sullen in their place for their ignorance.  I wondered if they were happy, or if they would wake up the next morning regretting their decisions from the night before.

I wondered if it was my stone-cold, sober school that made me see this particular ritual’s stupidity.  It is not the partying or drinking I criticize, but the partying and drinking in large frat parties.  Yes, there is free alcohol and a lot of pretty girls walking around.  I could have turned on my “social” switch, but for some reason I didn’t feel like my conversations with these particular strangers would lead to some breakthrough.  In that judgmental moment, I couldn’t see myself reaching out of that bubble.  I stayed a spectator and I was happy doing so.

That night, I used my normal small grouped get-togethers as a control for the frat party experiment.  After finding its tremendous difference, I tried a corollary experiment with a smaller normal party with the people and place kept constant.  The next night did not require any particular dress code or mannerisms.  We gathered in the living room with a deck of cards, a rack of beer, and some movies playing in the background.  The card games lead to more drinking, which lead to more laughter, but it felt much more open.  I sat on the carpet floor in my PJs and socks, surrounded by pillows and blankets.  This was not a house filled with obnoxious strangers and filthy floors, but a den kept warm from a door that did not open every three seconds from the flow of people moving towards and away from the kegs chained to a basketball net in the backyard.  The important part is that we laughed and played with a young heart and a young mind.

~See Lemons Party in Small Groups