Last week, when I was laying in bed with Eric and catching his cold, we were discussing the sickest we’ve ever been. My sickest story? That’s easy. It was when I was a junior in college: Greek Week 2007.
Greek Week that year was a nightmare. I was one of the Greek Week chairs for the first time, and I was also the VP of Recruitment for the first time. Two high-pressure, everyone-is-judging-your-decisions positions. Plus, my best friend Julia was in her first semester as chapter president. Between the two of us, that meant a lot of leadership and grace under pressure was required.
In the weeks leading up to Greek Week, several catastrophic events — by sorostitute standards anyway — took place.
- We discovered that a popular member of our house, and the heart and soul of our “MTV Night” dance team for Greek Week, was actually…pretty damn shady. As in, she had been living in our house for two semesters after she failed out of Michigan State. We didn’t know because she got around turning in her grade report, and, you know, she pretended to go to class every day. She told us about her exams and walked to campus with girls from our house — only she then got on the bus and headed to the community college where she was actually enrolled. Her boyfriend didn’t know. Her father didn’t know. When we found out, we were like, Holy shit — someone is pathological. We had to kick her out of the house, which meant our Greek Week team was at a huge disadvantage. I was just hoping other chapters didn’t find out and try to take away our Greek Week win from the previous year, as she had obviously played a part and had been ineligible.
- We had winter recruitment that year, and I was in charge. Early in the semester, I pissed off our 150-year-old Southern Advisor when I sent out the recruitment info to the girls and sort of reminded them that they may want to get spray tans and bleach their teeth of Christmas break. I was sort of kidding. She wasn’t amused. I had a lot to prove to her.
- Another popular member of our house was in some deep shit for banging a guy in the public area of the house. It probably wouldn’t have been a huge problem (I know), but I guess she had come home with two guys (I KNOW), and they had stolen the antique chair from our foyer. Our house mom was pissed and wanted this girl kicked out — but Julia was taking most of the heat for it. Our house was completely divided, and there were a lot of outraged and teary emergency chapter meetings.
- One of the most outspoken members of our house, a close friend of mine and someone who could always be trusted to say what needed to be said even when people didn’t like it, was studying abroad that semester. I needed her guidance during recruitment (she had run it the year before) and we all needed her during the several debacles that ensued. But alas, she was there only in spirit, and via e-mail.
- I was living in a room called “The Barn” and behaving like an animal. Five girls shared this room, and we pretty much never got any sleep. Since I had spent the previous semester spending literally every day in bed eating my feelings, watching “Grey’s Anatomy,” and weeping — Julia would come home from class, open the blinds, and, as I recoiled at the light, would ask me if I had gone to class that day, even though the answer was pretty obvious — I was ready to get back in the game. This just meant drinking a lot. But hey, I wasn’t sitting at home feeling sad about a guy anymore!
- Oh, and that guy who had broken my heart and sent me straight for the Grey’s fest? Well, after a semester of trying to get over him, I decided, Nope! Just not strong enough! and said we should still be friends. I kicked off the new semester by sleeping with him. Two weeks later he told me about the other girl he was sleeping with. Because we were friends, and you tell your friends things like that.
OK so actually this could be called “The Saddest and Most Pathetic I’ve Ever Been” but that was just what happened before Greek Week. During Greek Week? That is when I got sick.
See, that guy who was sticking it in everyone was also a Greek Week chair. Not only did I have to see him at all events, meetings, etc., but his frat was teamed up with the sorority that was our biggest rivals. (Sorry Kappa Delta — we will always just hate you.) That meant that as we hung out daily and I tried to salvage our relationship, I was also constantly fighting with him about all the unfair crap that was happening behind the scenes. We didn’t trust the Greek Week Leadership Team and my house knew they had a huge boner for Kappa Delta.
Then my house got caught up in a huge cheating scandal. Apparently one of the fraternity members of our Battle of the Bands team was a grad student. The frat considered him a regular member and we didn’t even know about it. The rules were quite vague on eligibility and grad students, but other teams were crying foul. So we turned to the Greek Week constitution looking for answers — only to realize it was a pisspoor document (that I would rewrite the next year when I joined GWLT in an effort to try to fix some of this bullshit). Eventually, my house was docked major points.
At this point, I had begun to realize I was getting sick. For the most part, my body was the last thing on my mind. I had been out of vitamins for a while, and I remember thinking I should stop by CVS to get some, but between all my Greek Week responsibilities, plus partying and — oh yeah — class, I did not have a single moment to buy any. After Relay for Life, during which we all stayed up for 24 hours to kick off Greek Week and raise money for cancer, my illness went to a new level.
The night we found out we were being docked major points for the Battle of the Bands incident, my guy “friend” called me, drunk, at 2 AM. He proceeded to scream at me for 45 minutes straight. He called me a “Fucking cheater!” and screamed, “How could you do this to me? THIS IS SO UNFAIR!” approximately 20 different ways. Had I been less doped up on the NyQuil I’d borrowed from someone, I may have said something like, “You fuck every sorostitute you meet and tell me about it because we’re ‘friends’ — do you really want to talk about unfair?” But I didn’t say that. Why? Because I was still in love with him. And also? Because I no longer had a voice at that point.
He screamed at me until his phone, mercifully, died.
I still didn’t get any rest or vitamins. My cough got worse.
A few days later, Greek Week was over (we got second place, despite all the drama) and it was time for me to start packing because I was leaving for Rome on Spring Break in a few days. I was trying desperately to catch up in the classes I’d been skipping, so I still hadn’t recovered from my illness. Two days before I was set to leave for Rome, my cough had gotten so bad that a bunch of blood vessels in my eyes had burst to the point that I would frighten small children. But no worries! I was fiiiiiiine! I was excited for Spring Break!
The day before I was supposed to leave, I was absolutely miserable. Still going through my massive to-do list, I called one of our advisors to chat about our chapter. I think that she was the first adult — and the first mom — I had talked to in a while. And she did what any mom, or any rational person outside the Greek community, would do: she told me that I was in no shape to get on a plane for eight hours and fly to another country.
Just like that, it hit me. I had been so wrapped up in Greek Week and my ridiculous life/behavior that I was oblivious to the fact my body was falling apart. I hung up with her and called the airline. I was sobbing, both because my throat was on fire and my eyes looked like a character’s from “Where the Wild Things Are,” but also because I was exhausted after the weeks of pressure when I had been trying so hard to hold it together.
Luckily, I was able to push my flight back a day. The next morning, instead of going to the airport, I went to urgent care, where I was diagnosed with many ailments, including a sinus infection.
When I think of being truly sick, I think of that Greek Week. It makes this cold I’ve been battling feel like nothing. I learned a lot from Greek life, and that was the semester I learned that your body shouldn’t be sacrificed so you can say yes to everyone.
(It would take me several more months to learn that you shouldn’t stay in love with people who scream at you when you have a cold and fuck other girls. But I did figure it out eventually.)