Meeting Ian Ch. 01

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A/N: Well. How do I explain this story? This is really me and what is currently happening in my love life. It sounds like the plot to a really amateur porno but I, Artie, am actually having sex with my Fraternity brother and I’m going to tell it exactly how it happened. And where we are as I am writing it. The last words were literally the last ones I spoke to him. I know this is way out there from my other work but consider this my version of therapy. Of course all the names have been changed, as well as the name of the fraternity, pretty sure Lambda Pi isn’t real. It’s a slow build, gonna be honest. Love, Artie (P.S. I know I promised Owen’s perspective… and it’s been 5 months. College is busy, man (clearly). However, it definitely is coming.)

*****

I wish I could say college was the best time of my life. Going into sophomore year, I was dreading returning to campus. I hated the monotonous conversations that always started with “So what’s your major?” which always was followed up with “What are you going to do with English? Teach?” I hated the colon destroying food and the large seminar classes. But what I really hated most was feeling alone.

I’m not going to say that I was the most popular kid in my high school but I did win Homecoming King. Then again, in a class of 65 it wasn’t hard to know everyone and really only the girls voted. Leaving the comfort of the South and stepping into the bleakness of Boston was a difficult transition made only worse by being on campus with 17 thousand undergraduates.

For all of freshman year, I hid in my miniscule dorm room hoping that my roommate wouldn’t come home and ask yet again, “Do you have any plans for this weekend?” I did. Watching Netflix and writing a novel counted as exciting Friday night plans. I made it through the year on Dean’s List because I didn’t have any distractions and only a small number of friends cultivated out of my classes.

Though nervous coming back to campus, I had resolved over the summer months to branch out—leave my dorm room—and meet people. The club fair is a huge event on campus, pretty much all of the 3 thousand freshman attend to find out where they can leave their mark, and I guess me as well.

I quickly discounted the athletic clubs. While I enjoy writing about and watching sports, my coordination led my mother to once make sure I didn’t need glasses. The school newspaper looked interesting but the flood of students around it made me not want to join. These kids looked like they lived and breathed journalism and I wasn’t competitive enough to want to compete for a byline.

Casting my eyes around I found a literary magazine. The kid in charge wasn’t boasting his club but rather standing calmly. With a pretty pitiful goatee growing, he looked more my speed. We both gave half smiles as I signed up for the emailing list. I was glad to see we both had some anxiety about speaking especially in a space where we would have to yell to be heard.

I quickly moved on, pleased that I had signed up for something and content that I could now leave. The exit was blocked by the hoard of students. I wasn’t stupid enough to try and go upstream of the flow of traffic and allowed myself to be pushed along. Groaning when I saw where it would lead: Greek Life.

Just keep your head down and no one will notice you, I told myself moving with the masses.

“Hey! Did you ever think about joining a Fraternity?” A loud voice piped up from beside me.

I glanced up resignedly, “No, thanks.” He was tall, but not intimidating. Maybe three inches taller than me and twenty pounds heavier. His chest was covered in large letters purporting his affiliation. I almost laughed when I saw his hair pushed forward by the hat thrown on backwards; what a fucking stereotype.

“Why not?” He asked arching a brow but smiling. He had a nice smile, wide and guileless.

“What do you mean, why not?” I realized I had stopped walking with the crowd but they seemed to merge around me naturally.

“I mean why don’t you want to join a fraternity? That way, I can tell you why you’re wrong.”

“This is a really bad sales pitch.”

He chuckled, “You stopped to talk so I think it’s going better than expected.”

“I don’t think I would fit in with your Frat.” Obviously, I muttered under my breath.

“Fraternity,” he easily corrected, “And I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t. Are you against loyalty, friendship, scholastic achievement, philanthropy, campus involvement, leadership, networking opportunities, and social events? ”

“No—”

“Great, then you seem like a good fit. What’s your name?”

“Artie.”

He stuck out his hand, “Good to meet you Artie. I’m Ian Sherman.” His grip was firm and pleasant but I still retracted my hand quickly. “You really should come to the IFC info meeting tonight. You can meet all the organizations, see if you want to rush. It’s really fun and—if I haven’t sold you yet—free pizza.”

I actually smiled. He really was selling it hard, “Alright, I’ll think about ataşehir escort it.”

“Awesome. It’s at 7:30 in the Ballroom; attire is business casual. There’s a Facebook event if you forget any of that.”

“Okay, Ian.”

I made to start walking away when I heard, “I really think you should come, Artie. Just remember free pizza.”

I snorted as I rejoined the melee pushing through the fair. Like I was going to go to a fraternity thing, the likelihood of me joining Greek Life was about as likely as me suddenly switching to one of the engineering programs. Frats were just so archaically hyper-masculine, something I am intrinsically not. I pass for straight and everything, it’s not like that’s my goal but I’m not throwing glitter into the air and wearing nothing but a gold thong and rainbow body paint. Still, being gay is too gay for a fraternity. Why would I put myself into a position where people could possibly beat me up? It was going to be a strong pass from me.

But then I was lying on my bed at 7, with nothing to do just staring at a blank screen, trying to come up with something witty for a character to say. Nothing was coming to me and all I could think was somewhere across campus people were getting ready to eat free pizza.

I reasoned with myself as I buttoned up a crisp blue collared shirt that I was just going to eat the pizza. It’s not like that meant I had to rush. I ran a comb through my dark brown mop of hair that always seemed to go where it wanted regardless of product.

I surveyed the scene at the meeting. Strangely, it reminded me of home. The South had been the home of boat shoes but I hadn’t seen so many men in Sperry’s until that very moment. I snorted, maybe I wasn’t the only gay one there.

I casually looked around the room locating the only important thing in the room: the pizza. I sidled up to it and grabbed two slices, pleased with my decision to come out of my room and wondering if I had enough time to leave with my pizza before the meeting started. I didn’t. Just then a voice, amplified by a microphone filled the ballroom, “Hey, guys if you could take your seats. We’re just about ready to get started.”

I turned toward the voice, Ian was standing at the podium. Gone were the Letters and the baseball hat. Instead, his hair was smooth and finely combed and he looked very good in his white oxford.

I grabbed a seat near the back as the rest of the men all tried to be in the first two rows. Eventually, everyone in a seat. Ian began to speak again. “So we’re all going to introduce ourselves and then we’re going to have a short presentation about Greek Life on campus as well a brief introduction to the eleven chapters. After the presentation, each chapter will be available around the room for questions or just to start to get to know them.” Ian took a small breath and gave a mega-watt smile, “My name is Ian Sherman and I am the President of the Inter-fraternity Council, or IFC. I oversee all Fraternity events and long term planning and am a proud brother of Lambda Pi.”

The presidents of all the fraternities gave their pitches. I quickly got bored amongst the various explanations of their similar dogmas. They all were the same, it seemed to me. Instead of focusing on the speakers, I busied myself with my pizza.

All of a sudden scraping chairs alerted me that the presentation had ended and we were expected to go and meet the chapters. That was a no for me. I could see however, that I could grab another slice of pizza before sneaking out the back.

Hand in the pizza box, I felt a hand clap my shoulder, “So, I did get you with the pizza, huh?”

I turned, “Hey, a free meal is a free meal.” I was slightly embarrassed under his large grin.

“You didn’t grab a nametag. Hold on.” Ian walked and grabbed a sharpie and a paper nametag. He didn’t even consider handing them to me, writing Artie in a flourish. “Now, I know Lambda Pi would be interested in talking with you. Did any of the other organizations catch your eye?”

I shifted under his steady gaze, wishing I could come up with any of the other fraternities to make it look like I had been paying attention. Nothing. “Nope,” I said blushing furiously.

Ian smirked, “Great. Well then, I’ll just show you over to our table.”

He led me over there, getting the attention of a whip thin blond, “Greg, this is Artie maybe you could explain to him why you joined Greek Life.”

Greg smiled, “That’s easy. The parties man.”

“Greg!” Ian exclaimed looking pissed and mortified.

“Oh calm down Ian. Just saying that to mess with you. I’m sure you could be talking to someone else, right?”

Ian glared but then smiled and nodded.

Greg turned to me with a grin, “I wasn’t kidding the parties are really fun. You get to meet a lot of new people and the girls man.” Greg stopped in his tracks, reminiscing. “They’re incredible. But for the more complete answer: being a brother is a friendship closer than you can even imagine. Your pledge class is something kadıköy escort bayan really special and then not just them, or your chapter but the entire national fraternity is looking out for you. We have the best GPA nationally and an extensive alumni network. I can honestly say that my college experience would have been pretty boring without Lambda.”

There was no falseness in his tone. Maybe he had drunk the Kool-Aid but from his perspective it sounded delicious.

Still not for me though. I smiled. “Well, I’ll think about it.”

“You should come to one of the Rush events. Just to see if you’d like it.”

“Yeah, I don’t know.”

A loud snort came from behind me, “Greg, you’re just not pushing the right angle. There will be free food, Artie and people to meet.” Ian smiled as I turned around.

“I can’t be bribed with free food,” I said.

“Can’t you? C’mon, sign up for our emails. It’ll be good for you.” He looked so expectant. I sighed, I could just ignore them when they came.

“Fine.”

I could see him trying to hide his smirk. He was really unsuccessful. Handed an IPad, I started filling out the information: my student ID number and email before I got to full name. “Do I have to put down my real name?”

“Uh, yeah. We have to check on transcripts if you decide to Rush. There’s a spot for preferred names if you want.” He was quiet for a second, “What’s your name?”

“Artie.” I said flatly.

“Bullshit. It’s clearly something else if you asked. I’m going to see it anyway. You might as well tell me.”

Fuck. I hate my name. Hate it, such Southern shit. “Randall Thompson.”

Ian stood there for a moment, “How the hell do you get Artie from Randall?”

Just then, I really wanted to be back in my dorm room. I could have forgone the pizza, “Well R from Randall and T from Thompson. R-T, Artie.”

“Well, that’s not the stupidest nickname I’ve ever heard.”

“Thanks,” I muttered sarcastically.

“You really should come to our first pre-Rush event. Just incase the email gets lost or accidentally makes its way into the trash: it’s Tuesday at 7:30 in the suites in the student center, the attire is still business casual.”

“Look Ian, I’m not right for a frat.” I stressed.

“Okay, let’s pretend you’re right. Who is right for a fraternity?”

Well, fuck. “Bro-y guys. I don’t know, guys who funnel beer and say dude a lot.”

“Dude.” Ian mocked, with his face disapproving.

I crossed my arms over my chest, “I don’t fit the mold.”

“You seem to be really ready to tell me what my fraternity is looking for. Maybe you should let us decide that.”

“Maybe I know more about myself than you do.”

“Maybe we can see something in you that you can’t,” he rejoined.

I’d like to pretend I didn’t outright laugh in his face. His glower was a mood killer though.

“Look Artie, I can’t make you go to the mixer and I can’t make you decide to Rush but I think you would like it if you gave it half a chance. I think you’d be great in a fraternity, not just Lambda. I’d be happy to introduce you around to all the organizations.”

Feeling pretty ashamed, I muttered, “No, thanks.”

“Alright. Well, I hope to see you on Tuesday.”

I walked away haunted by how hurt he looked. I didn’t get why he was so invested but figured that was how a fraternity recruits, making a potential new member feel important and welcomed. It was irritating that it even started to work. I actually felt that Ian would be sad if I didn’t show up to the Tuesday event. He might have been a master manipulator but he was good at what he did.

The weekend passed slowly. My roommate stumbled in on Saturday night with his arm slung around a girl. It was unclear if this was an affectionate touch or because they were keeping each other upright. In his drunken state, he had forgotten our rule to send a text if he was going to exile me for the night. I wish that had been the first night I had to quickly gather my things.

With dull resignation, I quickly pulled together my stuff and threw on a pair of jeans. The door had already closed when I realized I didn’t have anywhere to go. Regardless of the fact that it was a Saturday night and most people would be out partying, I wouldn’t have anywhere to go if everyone was at home.

Traipsing to the common room, I settled on the couch with my laptop and busted out a full chapter. My insomnia was always an issue but not being in my bed made sleeping even less likely. Around 3:30 AM, I made a decision. I didn’t want to spend another night alone in the common room. I wanted to have plans, to go out and meet people. I wanted to have friends.

With a sigh, I realized that meant I was going to the Lambda Pi rush event.

Actually caring, Tuesday came and I was much more supercilious about my outfit making sure that I looked both masculine and approachable. I wasn’t blessed with unlimited money but I had a few nice pairs of slacks for interviews.

Charcoal escort maltepe slacks and a perfectly pressed white shirt with a black and grey tie… I was ready and feeling like I was going to throw up. Someone I made it to the meeting. Around twenty men milled around speaking. I took a deep breath before making myself a nametag. The brothers were wearing metal nametags professing their class year and in some cases their titles.

In that moment, I said fuck it and walked up to a group of guys. In the center clearly holding court was the president of Lambda Pi, a tall attractive boy who I would describe an ethnically ambiguous. I would later find out that he was Armenian.

“Hey,” Drew said with obvious enthusiasm, sticking out his hand, “I’m Drew Petrosyan, President of Lambda Pi.”

“Artie Thompson, nice to meet you”

Each of the kids extended their hands giving their names: Josh, Matt, Eric, Peter and Chase.

Drew resumed his speech from before I had came into the circle, “So in partnering with the American Cancer Society we have a whole calendar of events throughout the year to raise money and awareness. It all culminates in a large auction for girls in the sororities to shave our heads. It’s not a mandatory but it’s a really fun event and if you don’t want to go bald you can work the raffles and other games.”

I was shocked, we were actually talking about raising money for a cause? Where was the partying? The vulgarity? The machismo? I listened as Drew explained their purposes and where notable alumni had ended up both from our chapter and nationally.

I glanced around at the other new guys and realized that I was mimicking their stupid grins. Was I believing this? Drew started handing out forms to the assembled guys, “These are Intent forms to Rush, if you go to other Fraternity events you don’t have to fill out another one. Bid day if you decide to Rush is August 30th.”

I glanced at the form in my hands as the guys all sprang apart in search of a level surface.

“You gonna fill that out?” I heard from behind me. Ian stood with his hands shoved deep in his pockets, his eyes twinkling as if to say I told you so.

“I don’t know.” I answered truthfully, I had made it to the mixer but I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to Rush.

“You came to the event, clearly you’re at least a little interested. I know I’m a really good salesman and everything but I can see that you want this. So, what’s the problem?”

“I already told you, I don’t think I would fit in.”

“Non-issue. I like you, clearly, or I wouldn’t be trying to get you to Rush so bad.”

I lowered my voice, “Look Ian, I just don’t think that people like me fit into a Fraternity.”

“People like you?” He quirked an eyebrow.

“Look man, I’m gay.”

There was a long pause and I wondered if I should maybe hightail it the fuck out of there before he spoke, “I’m waiting for a reason you can’t join.”

I opened my mouth to speak but he cut me off, “Look Artie, we don’t discriminate here. Not Lambda and not any of the Fraternities. One: it’s illegal and two: we aren’t dicks. There have been gay brothers before and I’m sure you wouldn’t be the last. We do LGBTQ and Greek events throughout the year to promote inclusiveness.” He stopped for a moment and seemed pleased with himself, “Any other reasons?”

Rather subdued, I murmured, “No.”

“Great. Which brings us back to: You gonna fill that out?” He didn’t care. Didn’t bat a fucking eyelash. Maybe all my stereotypes had been wrong about Greek Life.

“Yeah, do you have a pen?”

With a triumphant smile, Ian produced a pen with Lambda Pi embossed on the side, “Keep the pen.”

After filling out the form, my life got considerably more hectic.

There seemed to be an event every night. All of a sudden all brothers of any fraternity wouldn’t say which organization they were a part of. Though we all knew through the grapevine. It was easy for me to fill out my preference form, through meeting the other groups I could tell I wasn’t going with one because they were all clearly the drug users, one frat was too preppy, one too arrogant and rich. I also quickly could discount the special interest fraternities: being not black, Jewish, nor multi-cultural. My list was short: Lambda Pi.

Bid night came in all its festoon glory and I was shocked to discover that I had received competing bids. Beta and Lambda had selected me. Flattered as I was, I still turned down Beta.

Pledging

I felt a little tricked. The second I got my pin, Lambda changed. Apparently all the kindness being shown in the Rush events was on hold until initiation. One of my pledge brothers, Chase, leaned over to me as our New Member Educator explained the consequences if we were found to not be wearing our pin, “They can’t actually do anything. That would be hazing. This is all just to scare us.”

The forty initiated brothers of Lambda became the older brother I never had. Not exactly warm but deep down I could imagine them having my best interests at heart. Of course, they also were older brothers in the sense that we became venerated servants for them. The workers at Chipotle came to know me personally by the regularity of me picking up lunches for the brothers.

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