During my five-year college reunion in May, I snuck into my old fraternity house, which at the time was being used as some sort of community service dorm. As I wandered about taking pictures, a student approached and asked politely, “Excuse me, who are you?” Instinctively, I turned around and yelled menacingly, “Who the fuck are YOU?” The girl scurried off, but the incident made me introspective. Here I am, twenty-seven years old, with a relatively successful career, regular car insurance payments, and pillowcases that match my comforter. Yet at the same time, I can’t drink one beer without drinking twenty, I can’t converse with a girl without trying to take her home, and I can’t even step foot in a fraternity house without immediately regressing into an asshole. While college is many years behind me, vestiges of the experience remain deeply ingrained in my personality. Welcome to the world of a recovering frat boy.
Of course, I’m not the only one. There’s an entire faction of twenty-somethings out there who live seemingly mature lives - but only to the naked eye. Take my friend Mike, a successful software developer in New York whose downtown apartment has actually been passed down for years to successive generations of graduates from his fraternity like an off-campus party house. Or my buddy Justin, a writer here in L.A. who is looking to move to a new place - but has yet to find one big enough to fit his beer pong table. Unfortunately for him, “Hardwood floor quickly soaks up cheap beer” is generally not an amenity typically found on Craigslist.
Recovering frat boys aren’t required to have ever been Greek. In fact, they don’t even have to be boys. On average, every other Evite I received from girls over the past year has been for some sort of elaborate costume/theme party that reminds me of sophomore year. If you’re a strong, independent woman in her mid-twenties who is still throwing parties entitled Pimps & Hos, Forties & Hos, or Golf Pros & Tennis Hos, you are most definitely a recovering frat boy. Dressed like a whore.
To me, the phrase, “Let’s grab a drink” is both the rallying cry and secret password of the recovering frat boy movement. For some reason, no one uses that phrase until they’ve graduated college, and then they use it so frequently that it becomes virtually devoid of meaning. If you really think about it, you only actually grab a drink with about ten percent of the people you say that to. Of that ten percent, most think you literally want to have a solitary cocktail and exchange pleasantries or discuss current events (these people are often married or lawyers). The remainder - who you quickly recognize as kindred spirits - take “grab a drink” to mean “play beer pong and find that party where chicks are dressed as tennis hos.
Why is it, then, that so many of us, whether subconsciously or not, have adopted this quasi-Peter Pan lifestyle? These days, it’s no longer, “I won’t grow up.” It’s more like, “OK, I’ll grow up, as long as I can still throw up once a weekend.” I think the answer is simple: because we can. The world is changing. Getting married in your twenties is no longer the norm; in fact, those unfortunate souls who do are now outcasts, scorned and shunned, spit on and kicked to the side of the road by the rest of us single folk. And that means we now have more time to live our lives the way we want to and, most importantly, have evolved the ability to do so while still excelling in the adult world. People ask me all the time how long I can continue calling myself a recovering frat boy. Those people are usually sober and annoying. And my response is always the same: “Who the fuck are you?”
I recently met a chick a few years older than me and we got to talking. She mentioned that before moving to where I live, West Hollywood, she had lived in Malibu for ten years. As she continued, I got distracted because I realized that I have never done anything for ten years, let alone live in the same place. I think that’s another important aspect of recovering frat boy culture: transience. We are always on the move because we’re not ready to be held down. This can be both exciting and annoying (who wants to keep finding room for that beer pong table?). For me, though, it’s heartening to know that whatever city I’m in, I can always find friends and fans who like to work hard and play harder, often to the point of blacking out, sometimes while dressed as a golf pro or tennis ho. To you I say, “Let’s grab a drink.”
by Aaron Karo, courtesy of P.A.P.