For those who missed the ’60’s, here’s a peek for you. The ’60’s were a full-bore reaction to the staid, politically correct 50’s, its hero retired general President Dwight David Eisenhower, his ultra-staid wife Mamie, its Dick and Jane pretentions of the Norman Rockwell-esque American family surrounded by white picket fences. “Fun, fun fun! ’til Daddy took the T-bird away.” Except it took quite a while for Daddy to find the keys.
I went to college and grad school in the District of Columbia (Washington, DC). I was a member of a fraternity. We had a fraternity house and fraternity parties. We have fraternity/sorority parties, sorority/fraternity parties (there’s a slight difference between the two). And we certainly did some nutty stuff. To whit:
*My dorm was next to a church. The Sunday morning call to worship was a huge bell that was hellish on those with hangovers. One night someone shimmied up the side of the church to the roof, scrambled up to the bell tower, and then tied a blanket around the clanger.
*A hallmate was dramatically in love with a girl back home. He had her picture on her dresser in an expensive, metal, filigree frame. Someone kept sneaking into his room and turning the picture face down. Our lover was an electrical engineering student. He took copper wire, wired the frame and plugged it into a wall socket. Not only did that stop the intruder, but his identity was also revealed halfway to NC by his screams.
*Then there was the oversexed lad who kept sneaking a girl into his room in the wee hours. The boys next door got a little tired of the bed banging on the wall in between his bed and their’s along with various animal and cartoon-like sounds that “went with.” They began collecting empty beer cans and when the had enough to put the bed up on a triple tier of them they did exactly that. The star-crossed lovers crawled under the covers, ocean-wave-like currents began to move the bed and then: BAM! Crash**!!* SHABANG@@&&!! And so ended that tryst.
Then there were the Brett Kavanaugh-type stories. I saw people drunk seemingly beyond repair, one ending up in alcohol shock and in the hospital. My mild-mannered born in NC roommate got so plastered one night I turned on the cold water in the shower and threw him in fully-clothed. I didn’t let him out until he could stop slurring his words. Then I made the coffee. One frigid December at a party, someone I had my eye on to warm me up chose another. I walked out of the party, strolled several miles to the Lincoln Memorial, didn’t feel so great, threw up behind Abe, and walked back. ‘only problem was I was wearing an undershirt, shorts, and sweat socks. I was sick for weeks.
There was a girl of dubious reputation on campus. Actually, her reputation was well established. On more than one occasion I saw the back rows of lecture halls empty out on the rumor that she was holding court somewhere. One day, she was helping a friend move into an apartment and the friend was tapped out and had no money to tip the driver and the movers. Our heroine took care of the tips.
I witnessed physical abuse of women. I saw and heard verbal abuse of women. I knew that on graduation day someone had hired a hooker, rented a room, and put out the word that she was a graduation present for any and all takers.
One of the most jolting things I saw, which well might have caused lifetime damage, was this. A fraternity held a closed-door meeting and got any pledges who were virgins to admit it. As a gift, the brothers were going to get a hooker and anyone who wanted to lose their virginity could. The only catch was each had to pay half the fee; the fraternity would gift them the other.
Rumors swirled for a few weeks. Tension and anxiety rose. Finally, word went around with the date and time. Place was the fraternity house. At nine pm any takers would line up at the appointed bedroom door.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, one of the brothers was being made up to look like a woman–wig, make-up, stuffed bra, fish-net stockings, etc. At exactly 9 the first victim entered the room, which was of course dark. He stumbled his way to the bed, slid under the covers, and began groping the subject. In about 3 minutes he burst back through the door screaming in hysteria. Worse than the sexual shock of what he found, or didn’t, was the fact that he was “famous” for the rest of his college years. As the saying goes, “A secret in a fraternity house is anything that fewer than 300 people know….”
So what’s the point? Was there a difference between knowing and seeing, between seeing and doing? Was the guilt of not reporting, the same as the guilt of participating? Is “boys being boys” an acceptable answer? Where’s the line between boys being boys and boys being felons? I guess we’ll get the Senate Judiciary Committee’s response all too soon.
I would say this. Wrong is wrong. To borrow from Homeland Security, “If you see something say something.” Lastly, when it comes to being a judge of any sort there are no gradations. Why Brett Kavanaugh wants to be the most disliked, distrusted judge in the history of the court I don’t know. But he will be–at least from my perspective.
Bill Gralnick appears here every Sunday, except when now twice in a row he hasn’t. At times he’s thoughtful. At times he’s angry. At times he’s both. On occasion, he’s sunshine and candy canes. If you care to know more about his blogs and his books check his website: http://www.atleastfrommyperspective.net
And remember, as he is wont to say, “Read! It’s good for both of us.”