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Published: December 22nd 2014
When everything was settled with the Austrian college for us to spend the next four months there, our paperwork and visas intact, our tickets bought, we were just waiting to fly out and leave the US on what we pictured to be a crazy Euro trip. Not that the US or our city was bad or anything, but it was the hunger for something new and unknown. Something exciting.
After we finished our exams and were out for Christmas and other Holidays, the University didn’t resume classes until mid to end of January. We were to leave in February, so I had a chance to participate in my one and only hazing initiation week, me being on the other side and being the hazer, not the hazee. Although I didn’t mind going through it my freshman year, since I didn’t take it too seriously and didn’t really follow the rules set for us, pledges, by the active members of the house. iWeek usually happened during the first week of classes of the Spring semester. What differentiated me from the other guys was the fact that I didn’t have classes to attend to in the morning when the festivities were over. I could just sleep until noon, wake up in my room and start getting fucked up right away. Keeping pledges in line, of course, during my awake hours filled with intoxication.
I remember calling down to the basement, where the pledges camped for a week on the cold concrete. The guys brought a telephone down there and whoever was there at the time (not in class), had to answer by reading this long monolog from their “new member” book. The script was probably taken from the early nineteen hundreds when telephones were first starting to get popular and involved a pledge informing the caller, or me, since I called the most, on a variety of information about the current day, time, and the weather that would seem fairly bizarre to an average telephone user nowadays. After the spiel was over, I would ask one of them to come up to my room, which was on the second floor. “The Beach”, because the roof was easily accessible from there and in the summer you could go out on it and chill, study, day drink, tan, smoke, whatever really. Numerous after-hours parties occurred on that roof and were a huge disturbance to the peacefully sleeping houses around us. Although almost all of them were Greek, so we didn’t care. We sang mean songs about them when we were drunk, songs that were passed down to us from the older generations. I had the heat cranked up during the cold months, it felt almost like a sauna in there. Pledges loved the contrast in temperature, which gave them an opportunity to warm up their bones. When the pledges came in, I chatted with them about how their life was going and if there were any problems with the other guys. If everything was good I would just make them do stupid physical activity type of shit, like push-ups and pull-ups, good for their health I thought. However, if there was a problem, I would try to resolve it to my best abilities, but most likely I would inform an older member and pond the problem off on him. Not very “brotherly” of me.
No one was ever harmed, and it was fairly mild hazing even compared to my High School Football team. I spent my teen years in the country, where those dudes didn’t fuck around. They were mean fuckers. I recall a time when my best friend’s nipple was pinched so hard by a pair of needle nose pliers, it was bleeding. That was done to him for no reason really. Just because he was a freshman and the other being an asshole upperclassman, who was bigger and stronger than him and had the seniority over him. This ridiculous ancient concept of seniority is still practiced by many organizations in the world.
During the summer, my town hosted dirt track racing. You know circle, loud motors, and lots of dust. Not my cup of tea, but it gave me something to do on the weekends. One kid, my friend I guess, or at least we never had a problem with each other. He was the first American kid that I met, who was my age and I whipped him and his cousin in soccer immediately after meeting them. I refused to drink water when we were done, even though I was really winded and really needed it. My reasoning was questionable, but after that day he always thought of me as a badass for that, even though I was not a badass at all. Years later he would prowl around the area where the races were happening with his crew, which I was not and did not want to be part of. They would just pick fights with random kids because they were from a different town. Sounds logical, right? This caused a lot of problems in the long run between town/school rivalries and never ended good, usually with fights and vandalism of cars and other personal properties.
After the initiation week was over, I congratulated the new members on their accomplishment and went back to my hometown to finish up packing. I partied with my High School friends one more time before driving to see my ex-girlfriend in Maryville, Missouri during my last hours in the country. I flew out of Des Moines to Chicago and then to Frankford, Germany and from there to Vienna. I was supposed to meet up with my college friend in Chicago, but because my initial flight was delayed, I barely made it on board. When I debarked in Chicago, I could already hear my name on the loudspeaker. Anticipating this whole situation I literally ran across the huge airport toward my gate. I was the last one on board and the plane took off minutes after I found and switched my seat to sit next to my friend. Everything was fine now.
We flew Lufthansa, a German airline I really recommend to anyone traveling across the pond and back. I kindly asked for a drink, which was complimentary during the flight. As soon as we were in the air, I had one in my hand. Even though I was twenty years old, not a legal age to consume alcohol in the USA for some reason. I’m glad Germans don’t abide by those silly laws and sell and serve alcohol to kids as early as sixteen. I downed lots of cognacs and cokes during that flight while my friend was trying to learn German next to me via Rosetta Stone. “Austria Here We Come!” I thought before passing out in my seat to the sweet hum of the plane engines.
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