Some prefrosh are cool dudes.
It's that wonderful season once again, the time when high school seniors start traveling around the country to visit their top choice colleges to see where they might like to go once those acceptance letters finally start rolling in. Of course, I didn't realize it was that season - in fact, I had pretty much forgotten that season even existed, what with all of the other seasons to remember (spring, summer, spanking, rabbit, polka, autumn, football, hazing, applepicking, cottonpicking, Black History Month, and winter) - that is, until I found myself in possession of my very own genuine, bonafide prefrosh. Now, living in a Greek literary society which is most definitely not and in no way even close to resembling a frat, it's generally accepted policy that my days of hosting prefrosh are over. I already did my time last year, and the results were not pretty.
There I was, the plucky young freshman, just itching to show some bright-eyed high schooler the fabulous benefits of an education at my small liberal arts college in the Northeast. "Give me a prefrosh," I jauntily told the good people at the Admissions office, "for I would enlighten him in our ways and noble traditions!" Naturally, in my mind this translated to getting him trashed and sending him over to Beta, where he would immediately become stuck to their mystical enchanted Floorboards of Uncleanability, which, legend has it, actually absorb any and all beer molecules in a hundred yard radius. Then I could simply pick him up exactly where I left him the next morning. "Or maybe," thought I in my naivety and the newborn arrogance that comes from being a professional internet columnist, "he will have heard of me and know my work by heart. The moment he finds out his host is the one and only Ben 'Greasnin' Platt, his little bright-eyed high schooler heart will explode in bloody joy. He will spend all night just listening to me speak and gaping in awe at the majesty of my voice and the wit of the vaguely wordlike sounds that my voice creates after I've had a few." Alas, it was not to be.
Some are not.
What I got was a massive, no-nonsense black guy who was only even visiting my small liberal arts college in the Northeast because his sister had went here and his parents were forcing him. He wasn't a bad guy by any means, and I certainly hope he's happy wherever he ended up. But, as a dedicated athlete, he did not want to get trashed and go to Beta. And as someone with no sense of humor, he had never heard of Something Awful, let alone of its (at the time) newest star, Ben "Greasnin" Platt. In addition, since he had no interest in my school, he also had no questions about my school, so that entire massive chunk of mandatory prefrosh small talk that good hosts use to pass the time until they can get trashed was useless. I was depressed. All of my friends had managed to get prefrosh who drank and smoked and told bawdy stories of life on the sea and would fight for our amusement. My prefrosh did none of those things, and there were no other prefrosh around that weekend for him to fight, let alone breed with, thus helping us create an unstoppable army of prefrosh. I wanted to give him something to do, but, by a very strange coincidence, there was nothing going on that night. It was a Sunday, which, while by no means the busiest night of the week, usually means there is a lot going on. That Sunday there was nothing. No movies, no shows, no concerts, no cool parties. Even my friends, whose usual attitude toward their work consisted only of a series of grunts and confused gestures were sequestered in their rooms, studying away like the pod people that I assume must have replaced them. I was stuck with a boring prefrosh who didn't want to be there, didn't like me, and had nothing he wanted to see, do, or talk about. Luckily, he turned out to at least have a small nerdy streak in him, and I was able to keep him distracted by sitting him in front of my computer and letting him fall into the bottomless addiction that is Warcraft 3. I dodged a bullet, but only barely.
That was last year, and this year I figured I would know neither the boundless joy of a good prefrosh, nor the unending agony and awkwardness of a bad one. After all, how could I? Not only was I now a sophomore, but I was living in a Greek house, which technically isn't even campus housing. No, the only way I'd be encountering any prefrosh is if someone brought one to one of our parties. And yet, fate had a strange twist in store for me. I was down in my room, in the basement of my house, spending some quality time with a few friends. We were laughing and talking and watching funny videos provided to us by our dear friend Internet, when suddenly a freshman buddy of mine, who I'll call "Alex," for that is his name, got a phone call. There was trouble down at the old mill. Someone had lost their prefrosh! Now, this sort of thing happens all the time. A prefrosh gets assigned to a host who really has no interest in taking care of them, and eventually the prefrosh winds up locked out of the room with no idea where to find his or her host. It's a sad situation and usually it's no fault of the prefrosh. The individual on the other end of the phone was wrapped up in writing a paper and thus could not take care of the prefrosh himself, but he asked Alex if he could help. Alex, in turn, asked me, and I said sure, bring the little monkey right on over. We'll take him into the bosom of this Greek literary society and make him feel welcome.
The prefrosh as a baby. Note how it is not yet entirely possible to determine his math SAT score just by looking at him. This trait will develop during the toddler years.
A few minutes later, there was a knock at my door, and in walked Alex's mysterious contact, followed by the hostless prefrosh. The moment I saw him, I knew the truth. It was only compounded when I heard the real circumstances behind his host's "disappearance." Apparently his host had claimed that he had to go to a late-night psych study session. If only I had known that beforehand, I would have never allowed this prefrosh to breach the sanctity of my home. "A late-night psych study session" is the universal code for "I'm blowing off my annoying prefrosh." And this prefrosh was exactly the kind of guy who would fall for the "late-night psych study session" line. Everything about him screamed "The only thing I know about this school is its academic reputation." From his short, Bill Gates-eque hairstyle to his grossly unappealing glasses to his navy sweater with the collar of his blue checked shirt just creeping up through the neck, this kid was the result of a horrible experiment in combining a preppie Jew with a yuppie Jew, resulting in a young, nasal, fact-quoting super-Jew who basically enforced every single stereotype that I try to fight with my casual style and generally chill attitude. Since the prefrosh was put in a tough spot, what with having his host bail on him and then walking into a room full of upperclassmen, I tried to be as friendly and welcoming as possible. Unfortunately, this prefrosh was... well, the best description I heard was, "a walking social disease." There was no chance we were going to get him to fight for our amusement. And there was definitely no chance of getting him to breed.
Every single thing that came out of this kid's mouth was progressively more annoying than the last. I tried my best to put a positive spin on his stupid - and frequently just offensive - comments, so that it might give him a good springboard to more stable conversational ground, but he was intent on digging himself a hole that no man could possibly climb out of. From offering his opinions on why all drugs are bad to why you should never drink alcohol if you want to be a singer - and it should be mentioned that neither of those topics had anything to do with what the rest of us were talking about - the prefrosh just couldn't help but impose his opinions on what he decided our college lifestyles must be. Gradually, his comments drifted from nagging to flat-out irritating as he started making moronic sexual jokes. My small liberal arts college in the Northeast is a very sexually liberated place, and my house is especially keen on this idea. No one at my school takes sexist comments lightly. I mean, there are jokes, which are fine, and then there are comments which should, by all rights, get you deported to the bottom of the ocean. He then tried to recover by accusing the girls in the room of being "femi-nazis." Rather than letting him get himself lynched, I did my best to change the topic entirely. I don't know how we got on this subject, but we eventually started talking about the varying ages of students in this year's freshman class. Some are in their twenties, others are barely seventeen, et cetera. Someone made the point that a disproportionate number of international students are old for their class year because they come from countries where they had to perform mandatory military service before going off to college. That much is true. Now, the prefrosh, already sensing he was the hit of the party, seized the opportunity to make the following comment, which I will now produce as close to verbatim as I can remember through the overwhelming sense of shock:
"So, what, you have to strap dynamite to yourself and blow yourself up before you can go study abroad?"
This kid can look forward to a bright future. Hellooooooo, ladies!
If you are not immediately stunned into a coma by that statement, read it again, and this time remember that this was said while trying to make an impression on upperclassmen at a very progressive, very political, very liberal small liberal arts college in the Northeast. A moment passed in silence before I managed to speak. And when I did finally speak, I did so at length. I'm amazed I stayed as calm as I did. I think it's only because I was in the presence of so many good friends who have a calming effect on me that I was able to restrain myself from berating this little bastard until his ears bled all over his nice new navy cardigan. After that, the rest of the prefrosh's time in my room was spent on the phone to his host's room and to the campus police to try to get them to let him back into his host's dorm. At last, I finally decided that we had to get rid of this kid. The campus police headquarters is right across the street from my house, so I told him I'd just take him outside and show him the way. I swear, it was like he wanted to stay as long as possible just so he could keep grating on everyone's nerves. He just wouldn't shut up on the way out, and he kept doubling back. I had to physically pull him out of my room. I thought he was going to try to cling to the doorframe for a moment.
As we got to the front door, I turned to him and said, "I didn't bring my key, so don't close the door behind me." Then I pointed him to the right building. I watched him go across the street, then just assumed he managed to suck at life long enough to go in the right door. As I turned around, I found that, sure enough, he had closed the door. It was 2:30 in the morning. In Connecticut. In February. In other words, it was fucking freezing out and no one was around to let me in the front door. And I was in my socks. I actually had to walk around the house, across ice and snow, in my socks to get to my window where I could shout for the people in my room to let me in through the nearest door. As they finally let me in from the cold, I thought back to my days as a prefrosh. Man, my hosts loved me. I partied with them, I played frisbee with them, I had intellectually stimulating conversations with them. And now this. At least I can be pretty sure he's not going to be coming to my school.
The lesson to be learned from this experience is this: if you're a prefrosh, don't be a dick. Ask questions about the school and get to know some of the people there, and certainly be yourself, but gauge reactions carefully. If you're getting some nasty looks, you might try scaling it back a little. This isn't high school anymore. People think for themselves, and if they all individually decide they don't like you, it's probably your fault. And if you're hosting a prefrosh, don't take any shit from them. They may be your guest, and you have a responsibility to look out for them, but if they suck, don't pawn them off on someone else. Feed them to another, superior prefrosh. That way, the better one can absorb the lesser prefrosh's strength. It's the only way they'll ever learn.
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