Sometimes I need to remind myself that at one point I was a juiced up frat boy who liked to drink, smoke, eat pizza, and chase dirty tail…well, minus the juiced up part.  In fact, when I pledged way back in 1995 I was much skinnier, crabbier, version of the person I am today.  I also had no sense of style, and contrary to what you may think this post is about, I hated Dave Matthews Band.

Left to right: Greg, Rob, Rich, Lisa, and Me.

I didn’t pledge a fraternity rooted in the traditions of what many assume fraternities to be.  I liked punk rock, ripped jeans, Doc Martens, and in fact, when I first pledged I had hair down to my shoulders.  I never had any intention of pledging a fraternity.  Then I met the boys from ITK.  They were slobs like me, listened to the same music, liked to drink, smoke, eat pizza, and chase dirty tail.

It wasn’t until after college and I was a couple years into working that I thought maybe I hadn’t approached college and the whole fraternal organization in the right way.  I ended up leaving Oneonta State (where I started and pledged) after only three semesters, enrolled at my local community college part-time, got a job at J.Crew, and finished up my college career at LIU CW Post.  Post is a good school, and looks like what a university should look like with old buildings and pretty girls.  I didn’t pledge again, and actually spent very little time on campus thanks to commuting from my parents’ house, and working 35 hours a week at Emporio Armani.    So, a year or so into my first real post-college career driven job, I started to feel like I’d missed out.  I was only 23, so wearing t-shirts and shorts on the weekends bought at American Eagle didn’t make me feel out of place.  I was still a crazy, young kid in a lot of ways and was enjoying my early-mid 20’s.  I also dated a girl who got me to finally listen to Dave Matthews Band.

Though reluctant at first, I eventually started to enjoy it.  I played in a band with a couple of my fraternity brothers from Oneonta including Greg (pictured above) whose brother Dave (also in the band) really liked DMB.  So did Greg and the other band member, Brian.  I went a couple times with them to see Ants Marching, a DMB cover band who were really good, and packed a rather large Long Island venue.  And you know what?  All the girls were gorgeous.  Then Dave got a large, flat screen SONY Vega and one day while hanging at his apartment he threw on a DMB concert DVD, and lo and behold the audience was chock-full-o beautiful girls.  If I felt like I’d missed the fraternity mark before, now I really felt I’d short changed myself.

I continued to listen to the music I’d always loved plus a sprinkling of DMB, but started to exercise more, and dress a little better, and I ended up really enjoying my mid-20’s, if you know what I mean.  Right before I turned 27 I met Kristina, the girl I would eventually marry one lazy summer Saturday hanging at the apartment of a mutual friend.  She was dressed all in black.  Her first thought of me was “this guy looks like he’s straight out of the J.Crew catalog.”  But we ended up connecting through a conversation about music – not Dave Matthews Band, but Richard Hell and the Voidoids, the Ramones, and other punk rock bands.  In her eyes I became more than just the J.Crew catalog guy with the scruffy good looks (I added that last part) – I had street cred.  And you know what?  She likes DMB too.  The rest is history.

When I listen to Dave Matthews Band today (and by today, I also mean right at this very moment I’m listening to Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King) I don’t feel a sense of nostalgia for college or what college could have been.  I don’t even think much about my rather enjoyable mid-20’s.  It just makes me think of the guy I am today – I don’t care what genre a band is from anymore – if I like something, I listen to it.  If I don’t, I don’t.  I’ve come a long way from the angry drinking, smoking, pizza eating, dirty tail chasing kid I was in the 90’s.  Now I’m just a crabby coffee drinking, exercising, healthy eating, one-woman man.  But how funny is this…?

Added February 28, 2011, 10:00 AM: I also met some great guys in ITK – my big brother Ken was in my wedding party, I played in a band with Greg & Brian for over 2 years, and still keep in touch with many others.  I do not regret for a moment pledging the fraternity I did.

(Left to right: Me, Oaff, Kooter)

~Sam

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