3. A Confident Triumph

3. A Confident Triumph

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

A Confident Triumph

With confidence, you have won before you have started.

~Marcus Garvey

It was freshman year and my friend Kathy and I were considering pledging for a sorority. Pledge season was full of the usual array of festivities. Throughout Week One, you could sample the various houses at their parties, meeting the sisters and getting a sense of the atmosphere and unique personalities. At the end of the night, if you were interested, you left your card letting them know you wanted to pledge with them. During Week Two the sororities and fraternities got together for combined parties inviting their choices among the potential pledges.

Surprisingly, Kathy chose one of the most elite and highly sought after sororities. It didn’t seem like a good fit to me, but she was insistent. I didn’t want her to be disappointed but I was doubtful they would choose her. She was just not their type.

Kathy wasn’t your stereotypical sorority girl. She was studious. She was kind. She was fashion conscious but she wasn’t runway thin by a long shot. She was voluptuously curvy. Unfortunately she was in an environment where curvy was not “in.”

Kathy was beautiful inside and out. I just didn’t think she was choosing a crowd that could see that.

So we were pleasantly surprised when we both received invitations for the combined party of her chosen sorority and its associated fraternity. I was still skeptical, but I was happy for her.

“Who’s your date?” she asked excitedly.

“My date?”

“From the fraternity. Who is the date on your invitation? I hope it’s as good as mine. I hit the jackpot. I got Preston.”

There was no fraternity brother listed on my invitation. I was concerned. Was it an oversight? Was I second string?

Later I learned the truth, and it was far more sinister. It turned out only some of us were selected for “dates.” These chosen few were part of what the fraternity ominously called their Ghoul Pool, an annual tradition.

The Ghoul Pool was a contest whereby each brother paid his fee and invited the most “ghoulish” date he could find, hoping to be voted the winner and collect the spoils.

I didn’t want to hurt Kathy’s feelings by telling her, but I didn’t want her to walk into such a cruel trap. I debated for days about how to circumvent the party.

“I have a date with the cutest, most popular guy on campus. I have the opportunity to show him what a cool and interesting person I am.”

Finally on the day of the big event, as she was tearing through her wardrobe to pick just the right ensemble, I told her what I knew. I suggested we skip the party and go to the movies. But she would not be swayed. Despite hearing about the set-up she was determined to go to the party with her date.

I begged her not to go, fearing the night would end in tears. But she insisted. She said she was going to make the most of this date with Preston.

“I have a date with the cutest, most popular guy on campus. I have the opportunity to show him what a cool and interesting person I am,” she declared confidently.

So I went with Kathy, fully expecting to have to pick up the pieces by night’s end.

At the party, groups of people whispered in corners about “the contest.” Throughout the night I heard random comments about the various contestants. Toward the end of the evening I saw Preston being high-fived and congratulated. Apparently, thanks to Kathy, he had won the Ghoul Pool.

I kept watching Kathy, waiting to step in to do damage control if need be. But she seemed to be having a great time. I don’t know if she overheard any of the comments about the contest, but if she did, they didn’t seem to detract from her enjoyment of the party. At the end of the night, as we were about to leave, Kathy reached up and gave Preston a peck on the cheek. The crowd clapped and whistled.

Kathy and I never spoke about it again. Neither of us pursued pledging that year. Over time, we drifted apart as many friends do.

Years later, one bright spring morning I was headed to Starbucks on my way to a job interview and I ran into Kathy waiting outside the café. We exchanged pleasantries and I congratulated her on her beautiful wedding band and obvious pregnancy. She was glowing, as the cliché goes.

As I was about to make my way toward the door a handsome man came out holding two coffees.

“You remember Preston, don’t you?” she chirped.

He smiled broadly, put his arm around Kathy and handed her a caramel macchiato.

~Donna L. Roberts

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