Rules and Sleepy (not the dwarf)

At St. Francis, there are only a few “rules” and most of them are for the nuns.  Prayer everyday at 5:30 am,  a life of service, be kind and hospitable always, etc.  It’s not hard for them to follow the rules, after all, they are nuns.   The one rule that applies to the staff there also is  when a silent retreat is in, you are supposed to remain silent as well.  And these folks take their silence seriously.  I was preparing breakfast one morning for a silent group and a woman came in the kitchen with a little scrap of paper on which she had written “more butter please”. Of course, because I could never really adhere to this rule, I said, out loud “sure, I’ll get that for you” – her face fell and I actually thought she was going to cry.

At the frat house, the concept of rules is just that- a concept, and a vague one at that.   I set down a list of rules when I first got there, and over the years, I’ve added to it quite a bit. I’ve only ever done away with one rule- don’t touch me.  I thought it would be a good idea to establish an ” I just work for you” vibe, but I very quickly found out that was not going to be the case and today, I would be very sad without the warm hugs from my boys that have cheered me up, made me feel useful and needed and carried me through some very difficult days.

Here’s my list of “rules” for the frat house and just a few examples of how they are ignored, mocked, and broken on a daily basis and the worst offenders, so far.

Language– Anyone who knows me knows I have what might be described as “salty” language (that’s the nice way to put it), so cursing doesn’t really bother me.  But I do have a list of “please do not say these things in my presence” words and phrases.  The top of the list is the G**D*** expression.  You want to use the F word, fine.  But please don’t offend me by taking the Lord’s name in vain.  Also, any and all of the “C” words that are used to describe female or male parts.  I cringe just thinking about them.  Every year, when I give my “These are my rules” speech to the incoming pledge class ( this is one of my favorite things to do) I mention  not saying the “c” words in the kitchen and some dope asks ” Oh, do you mean (fill in the actual word here)” and I immediately know who is going to be one of my least favorite pledges that year.

Worst offender– this title is shared by at least 20 people who cannot seem to not use the GD expression as a noun, verb, etc.

Pants– I have always insisted that the boys wear pants in the kitchen.  This seems like something you shouldn’t have to announce or make a “rule”, right?  Not at all.  Every year, at least 10 times a year, someone comes into the kitchen in their underwear, struggling to make it to the ice machine and this is the conversation that ensues

me:  ” get out and get some pants on”

KA: “I have pants on”

me: “no you don’t, those are boxers”

KA: “no, they’re pants”

me: “get out!!!!”

KA: “please just let me get some ice before I die”

me: ” pants, or no ice”

This exchange takes waaaaay longer than it would take to just go get some freaking pants on.

Worst offender “Scissors” who wore only his baby blanket ALL day on his 21st birthday.  A 21-year-old baby blanket.  There was a time when my son was just a little boy, when he once said to me  ” I’d like to be just like Scissors when I grow up”, sending chills up my spine. ( Scissors could not have been sweeter or kinder to my son)

Random women ( I’m being very generous using the word women here, trying hard not to be judgy)-  I tell the boys this every year- If you have a steady girlfriend, and you’re going to marry her someday, by all means, bring her through my kitchen.  Otherwise, I don’t want to see your random chicks in last nights clothing, with their ratched hair, carrying thier high heel shoes walking through my kitchen the morning after.  For heaven’s sake, borrow a car and drive that (insert negative noun describing a young female with questionable judgement here) back to wherever she belongs.

Worst offender – I’m not even going to use his name, because I know he has a girlfriend now, and frankly, he should hang onto her.  This fine young gentleman, on several occasions, would walk a girl (always a beauty) though the kitchen in her dress from the night before, walk her to the door that goes out the back of the house (where the garbage is kept) and opening the door, pretty much shove her out.

My Bathroom– There’s a bathroom in the kitchen at KA- when I am there, it is MY bathroom.  I do not want to know, or even think about, what goes on in that bathroom when I am not there.  The bathroom rule is simple- when I am there, you may use the bathroom to do only three things- pee, wash your hands and look in the mirror.  Several years ago, one of my boys, who was a real gentlemen by the way, came into the kitchen, walked into the bathroom and peed- WITH THE DOOR OPEN.  I guess I should have added a fourth thing to the bathroom list.  I asked about it, and he said ” you couldn’t see me, right? ” I couldn’t. And with very little exception, no one ever closes that door.

Worst offender– Sleepy- by a mile

Sleepy was a KA that got his nickname quite honestly- the kid could sleep at any time, at any place.  One day, after my husband had back surgery and was unable to put up our Christmas lights that year, Sleepy volunteered, along with two other great KA’s to come to my house and put up the Christmas lights, and he slept through the whole thing on a chair inside the house.  He’s also the boy who made me the ” Home is where the heart is” sign that still hangs in my kitchen today.  He’s also the boy (now a man) who calls me out of the blue, and shows up at my kitchen door when he’s in town just to say hi.   He’s also the guy who ruined our piano (don’t ask).   So, one day, my house phone (I have a land line in the kitchen) rings and I answer it as I always do “Kappa Alpha, this is Joanne” and the voice on the other end said ” Hi Jo, this is Sleepy”  Now, I had no idea he had the number to the kitchen line, very few people do, and I said “Sleepy, where are you? ” and this is what he said ” I’m in your bathroom, guess what I’m doing?”  Of course, I went nuts, looked immediately to the bathroom door, which was closed, and started yelling into the phone “Get out of there!!”  to which he replied ” I’m not done yet” .  Worst offender of the “pee only” in my bathroom rule!!!  Also, one of a handful of boys it was impossible for me to be mad at.

I’ve learned over the years that the boys that give me the most trouble, the “rule” breakers, often turn out to be the boys I miss the most when they are gone.  They have a spirit that is infectious, personality that keeps things interesting and are typically kind and sweet.

A year after Sleepy graduated, my mother passed away.  He just happened to be visiting Lehigh at the time and drove, along with several other boys over 2 hours, to pay their respects to me and my family.  I was overwhelmed when they walked in, and most especially taken aback by Sleepy being there.  Kind. Sweet.

I miss you, Steve- you can use my bathroom anytime.



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