Greetings from the back row.
I’m the brother you hate. I’m apathetic. I’m lazy. I’m the one who contributes nothing worthwhile, except an occasional laugh from one of my sarcastic comments. I like to come to parties and a meeting every once in a while. My lack of attendance drives you crazy. So does my smokeless tobacco habit. Chapter Idiot.
I wasn’t always this unlikable fellow you see before you. In fact, when I first joined the chapter, I was ready to go. I had a lot to offer. I was the captain of my high school’s wrestling team and served on the yearbook staff. I’ve been a leader in clubs before. I’ve been good to my friends, and great to my two little sisters. I’ve always considered myself to be one of the good guys.
So how did I get this way? How am I now sitting in the back row? You may assume that I was just a bad recruit; that I joined for the wrong reasons. Perhaps you think I’m just one of those jerks who will always be this way. Actually, I bet you stopped thinking about me long ago. I am a waste of your time. I’m an impediment, a roadblock.
I don’t blame you for thinking these things. This whole back row is full of guys that fit that description. It’s not me, but I’ve chosen to be with these guys. I’ve chosen the back row, and so I deserve the perception that comes along with it.
However, I didn’t choose the back row at first. I started in the front.
I used to sit up close. I was eager to participate. I wanted to matter. But then a series of things began to happen.
I once had an idea in a chapter meeting that someone else said was “fucking stupid.” At the next meeting, I sat a little further back.
There was another time when I volunteered to go to the IFC meeting for the chapter. I forgot to go, and our president was pissed. I don’t blame him. I felt terrible about it. I’m still learning how to be better organized in my life, but that’s not an excuse. Anyhow, I volunteered to make it up by going the next week, but it was decided to send someone else.
I really haven’t been asked to do anything since, and I haven’t really volunteered. I just decided to sit a little further back in the meetings.
At the next meeting, I received the “dumb-ass brother of the week award” for messing up that part in our initiation ritual. I laughed along with everyone, but I felt really uncomfortable. By the way, I have an idea for other awards we could give that might actually inspire some positive action. Let me know if you want any of those ideas. I don’t think they’re stupid.
Anyhow, I didn’t really want to be called out again for an award like that, and so at the next meeting, I sat a little further back.
Then there was the time at our Spring mixer when an older brother offered me a joint, and I tried it. You heard about that, and I think you’re comment was “great – another pothead.” I regretted doing it immensely (and instantly), but I didn’t want to admit that. I didn’t want to be seen as weak. I didn’t want to show how low my confidence level really is.
So, at our next meeting, I just sat a little further back.
And I found myself in the back row.
Since then, I really haven’t been a good brother. I stopped going to meetings. I found a group to hang out with who aren’t the best influence. I started playing the roles of “jock” and “big drinker” because at least they gave me an identity. I’m not what I expected to be, but at least I’m something.
The funny thing is, I joined a fraternity because I wanted to be better. I actually think I might be a lesser person because of it.
By the way, I’m not looking for sympathy or welfare. I’ve decided to be here in the back row. It’s not really your job to reach out to every low-contributing member of the chapter, or even acknowledge our presence. You’re busy, after all. You’ll be just fine paying no attention to me.
I just wanted you to understand a few of the things that led to my life in the back row. Perhaps you can stop the next guy from drifting back here.
And I guess I also want you to know that if you were just to offer me a small invitation to engage, just a minor role or opportunity, I would do absolutely amazing things for this chapter. I would be the best member you could ask for.
But I can’t expect that. I can’t even expect you to notice me anymore. After all, it’s quite a distance from where you are and where I sit. Here. In the back row.