CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. -- The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Illinois has a "balanced men" program, which is a very reasonable policy that treats all members equally. There is no pledging and no hazing. On the other hand, the good men with whom I'm staying here had no qualms whatsoever about making me sing "New York, New York," the song the hated Yankees play after every game, with PlayStation's Karaoke Revolution.
And then, as if that weren't humiliation enough, they made me sing Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" while wearing a Tigger costume.
Yes, a Tigger costume.
Frankly, I'd have felt more dignified if I'd had carnal relations with a goat.
But still, this wasn't enough. The lads then encouraged me to wear the Tigger costume to Brothers, a local bar where all drinks go for $1.50. (Is Illinois a great school or what?) The patrons insisted on buying me so many shots that I was break dancing on the floor and no longer remembered that I was wearing a Tigger costume. Which wasn't a big problem ... until I had to go to the bathroom.
I won't go into the details. Suffice to say, I need to reimburse the Sig Eps for some serious dry-cleaning bills.
The other problem was that I couldn't phone my wife to assure her that I wasn't embarrassing myself, because I couldn't punch in the correct numbers while wearing the Tigger gloves.
Anyway, once again it is 5 in the morning. I'm exhausted and my throat is hoarse and my deadline is nearing and my brain feels like Nabisco Shredded Wheat and I have no idea how I'll finish this story before a 9 o'clock class on the rise and fall of the British Empire.
Worse, I have a midterm at 1 p.m. Not only have I not studied for the test, I've never even attended the class. I'm literally living one of those anxiety nightmares where you dream you're taking a final in a class for which you only just now realize you had registered. The only saving grace is I won't show up for the test in my underwear.
At least, I hope not.
We go to college at the wrong time in our lives, and not just because we can't legally drink alcohol until our junior year.
|BACK TO SCHOOL|
Jim Caple is turning back the clock and living the college life for the NCAA Tournament:|
Day 1: The fountain of youth
We choose majors that sound interesting to an 18-year-old mind. We let advisers pick classes for us, then we step down a career path we think will be rewarding. It's only when we've led 10, 20, 25 years of a post-college life off-campus that we realize what classes we really wish we had taken, what courses we wish we had actually attended and what textbooks we wish we had actually read. And by then, of course, it's much too late. There's a mortgage to pay and a family to support; and besides, tuition is so high that the only ones who could afford it are the high school players who chose to go pro instead.
That's what makes this Back to School project so appealing. It isn't too late for me. Over the three weeks of the NCAA basketball tournament, my editors are embedding me on college campuses, giving me the chance to return to school and take the classes I should have taken the first time around. I can sit in on an African-American studies class on the history of race in Chicago politics, or get an overview of the British Empire, or listen to a study of early Christian literature and film history. Suddenly, they all seem fascinating.