Man, I love frat parties

J.B. Sivanich

If you ask any of my close friends, or take a cursory glimpse at my Facebook profile, you will learn that, if there is one thing in the world I love with every inch of my body, it is frat parties. The quality of my week is defined by three factors: how many compliments I get on my column, how many cute cat pictures I stumble upon on the internet and how hot I look in my frat party outfit.
Unfortunately, it took me a little while to learn that my true niche here at Lawrence as a frat party-aholic. Yes, it may surprise you to learn, but I rarely ventured outside my little den in Plantz during my freshman year. I mostly just spent my first year at Lawrence curled up between my teddy bear and my stuffed Piglet, phone to my ear, discussing my favorite ice cream flavors, complaining about the dirty-ness of dorm bathrooms, talking about how much I missed high school with Jane.
Jane and I were the Adam Brody and that Asian girl from “Gilmore Girls” of our high school: You know, the geek about to break out into heartthrob status and the short, cute, neurotic Asian girl with the conservative Christian Korean parents who overwork her and don’t let her date.
What started off as short dates to the calendar store behind her parent’s back and cute little miscommunications about kissing on the cheek versus one-armed hugs turned into a long-distance relationship. Like every long-distance it was hard, but I thought it was true love.
Sadly, it ended right before we were supposed to reunite for summer when she told me over an AIM conversation filled with dully sympathetic emoticons that she was just using me to run up her phone bill to get back at her overbearing parents. I spent the following summer alternately bagging groceries at Piggly Wiggly, lying in a fetal position on my bed and experimenting with eye-liner.
Anyways, I returned to campus my sophomore year committed to turn over a new leaf and put Jane and her devious, she-devil ways behind me. I was a little lost as to how to go about it breaking into the quite intimidating Lawrence social scene but then, during the third week of school, I saw a poster advertising Beta’s “Jammy Jam” party. As the son of a former Allman Brothers roadie, I was ecstatic.
I prepared diligently, cleaning off my Birkenstocks, trying on different colors of oversized corduroys and ironing my favorite Grateful Dead tie-dye – not the kiddy one with the dancing bears but the cool one with all the skulls. I put a hacky-sack in my pocket, in case there were breaks in between the sets, and brought along the two Sony DA88 digital multitrack recorders that my parents got me as a high school graduation gift to establish a little street cred.
But when I got to the party, I immediately felt out of place. There were no Trey Anastasio-esque guitar licks coming out of the speakers but instead a repetitive 4/4 beat, a bass line a seventh grader could write and lyrics that were degrading to women.
I looked around only to see a bunch of people wearing pajamas. While I thought it was cool that all these people were comfortable enough with themselves to wear pajamas in public, I was utterly bewildered at what this meant about partying at Lawrence.
Luckily, it turned out that I was not the only one who had misinterpreted the meaning of the party posters. Standing in a corner of the dance floor was a blonde kid with his limbs sticking out of an oversized Skippy peanut butter jar, a piece of bread in one hand and a butter knife in the other. This is how I met my soon-to-be best friend, Brad Camp.
Brad and I hired out one of the cooler seniors, a guy who used to go here by the name of James Eric Prichard, to give us some lessons in partying techniques. I do not know whether Mr. Prichard was an extraordinary teacher or Brad and I were just fast learners, but by the end of the year we were “tearin’ it up” – one of the key phrases Mr. Prichard had us memorize.
This past weekend marked the second anniversary of that life-changing day. Jammy Jam 2009 was a success beyond all other years. It made me well up a little to think of how I am a senior and how much I will miss the cultural institution of the frat party.
But, as I looked at myself in the mirror, dressed in nothing but my Scooby-doo boxer briefs, there were no tears in my eyes – just a sense of cold confidence knowing that I was a third of the way toward having a good week.