66: Mono-derailed

66: Mono-derailed

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles


Always act like you’re wearing an invisible crown.

~Author Unknown

My fly was unzipped. And six hours later, after traveling through twelve sorority houses and meeting hundreds of girls, my fly was still unzipped.

Mortifying, I know.

But it was only Philanthropy Round.

“I have the rest of formal recruitment (rush) to make a good impression” — those were the famous last words of a casualty of recruitment.

After winter break, I came back to Northwestern with new clothes, an iPod dock and speakers, and mononucleosis, an ugly gift I wanted to return. Having mono is never in vogue, especially during recruitment season.

However, the kissing disease was not going to stand between me and the Greeks. I wanted to join a sorority. How many more weekend nights could I spend in the Mole Hole (an all-male wing) of Allison Hall, watching guys drink beer and play video games? I was tired of being one of the guys. I needed to get out of the Mole Hole and relocate to a lighter, brighter, and prettier place — the sorority quad.

I started recruitment with a lot of enthusiasm. I smiled, I laughed, and I met a lot of great people.

I was awed by the sorority universe; its inhabitants wore cute, coordinating outfits and sang songs. This place even had its own time zone, called “Panhell Time.”

Being the ambitious freshman that I was, I attended all my classes — including 9 A.M. calculus — when I had mono. To do this, I had to sleep whenever I was not in class. But adding the demands of sorority hopping to my schedule left me little time for catching Zs.

And naturally, my enthusiasm for recruitment slowly waned.

At one house, a girl ambushed me for trying to kidnap a sugar cookie.

Does she think I’m too fat to be eating a cookie? Turns out it was against the rules to leave the house with anything given to you. This included, but was not limited to, sugar cookies.

At another house, I forgot my purse. I asked my recruitment counselor if I could go back and get it. She sighed loudly, and reluctantly said she would take care of it.

Wouldn’t it be a lot easier and quicker if I went into the house to get it? It was my purse, and I probably knew where to find it. Ten minutes later, my counselor came back with my purse and a puss on her face.

I didn’t know that once a recruitment party is over, you can’t go back in the house. Not under any circumstance. This includes, but is not limited to, retrieving your designer handbag that houses your credit cards, IDs, money and other life necessities.

At another house, a girl asked, “How are you today?” as I came in. It seemed like an easy question to answer, but it wasn’t.

“Do I say the truth?” I wondered.

I feel like death.

“Or should I lie?”

I feel sororerrific!

“Well, I don’t want her to think I am a liar so I’ll go with the truth,” I decided.

Big mistake.

“Actually, I’m not doing so well,” I replied. “I have mono, umm... but don’t worry, it’s not contagious. Well, unless we share a drink or something like that, but that’s not going to happen so...”

Alissa, shut up and just shake her hand!

I extended my hand to shake the active’s hand.

The look on her face was priceless, but not nearly as priceless as the looks I got when I showed up to another house covered in snow.

I was walking under an awning on my way to the house and a snowbank fell on my head. It hurt. My dress was soaked, my hair frizzed. A mix of snow and tears made my mascara run down to my chin.

At this point, things were really starting to get ugly, and when I say “things” I really mean me. I tried to beautify myself before the parties, but nothing in my wardrobe went with mono. I didn’t have the strength to pull my hair taut to blow dry and straighten it. My face, no matter how much blush or bronzer I used, remained pale and greenish. The blue bags under my eyes made me look like a junkie.

And my normally sparkling personality was dulled by mono too. I was either exhausted from not sleeping or groggy from napping. My conversational skills suffered.

One night I overslept and was late for one of the parties. I rushed to get ready and ran to the house I was supposed to be at. The girls were already inside, so I decided to ring the bell. I rang and rang the bell, but no one came to the door. I saw all the girls inside, happily chatting, but no one saw me through the window. Defeated, I walked back to the dorm.

The next morning I was not asked back to that house, among many others.

That was when I officially withdrew from recruitment.

I was sad, but life went on.

A few months later, I received an invite to attend a chapter’s informal, spring recruitment. I was apprehensive about going, but unlike winter recruitment it was only one day, one chapter house. Plus, I had made a full recovery from mono and so had my appetite. The allure of an ice cream social was too strong to pass up.

I went, I got a bid, and I accepted.

It has been almost two years since then, and as an active member, I have never had any regrets about the way things turned out. This year, when I was talking to freshman girls during recruitment, I told them some of my recruitment horror stories. I told them the stories mostly because they’re funny. But I also told them because recruitment is about sisterhood, and the most sisterly advice I could think of is to hold your head high, even when snow falls on it, and never leave the bathroom without double checking that your fly is zipped.

~Alissa Piccione

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners