So all this rec letter talk has gotten me so stressed out, (and if I’m stressed I just can’t even imagine how y’all are feeling!), that today I am going to take a little break from the tutorial and regale you in sorority tales.
When I was in high school my mother sent me to “Miss Mabels” charm school for young women. I was 14 years old and just getting ready to head off to high school. By the grace of god I was being allowed to continue to go to “public” school even though boy craziness caused my mother to threaten frequently that, “they had convents for girls like me”! I saw Miss Mabel’s as a punishment for my overt interest in boys but was assured that all “proper” young women were schooled in the social graces. I attended Miss Mabel’s until almost my 16th birthday when I “came out” at Cotillion with all the charm and social skills needed to be accepted into “Society” and on my way to being a sorority girl.
Fast forward to 1992 and I am now sending my first-born daughter to “charm “school at our local department store. Every Saturday she was carted off to learn which fork was which, how to carry on a meaningful conversation and the grand finale was a fashion featuring all of the young ladies who had attended. Now I am not my mother’s daughter (hmm… for fear of Pinocchio syndrome that’s not entirely true) but I did feel that learning the social graces was important for my precious, talented, gorgeous daughter. And the ulterior motive was that my dear sweet child could not walk and chew gum at the same time (honey..if you are reading this I AM SO SORRY..but it’s true) so I was hoping that the “graces” part of this might actually have to do with body movement. I wish I could say it helped but I do think that it has contributed to her now lust for dishes and silverware. Oh and this child wanted nothing to do with sorority life.
Daughter number 3 wanted to pledge a sorority from the moment she heard me sing my fist sorority song. She would clap enthusiastically as we marched around the living room. When her older sister (daughter number 2..remember daughter number one thought it was a cult and no one was going to tell her what to do), pledged baby sis hung on every word that related to some sort of sorority event or experience. Her time could come none too soon.
When she decided to attend a SEC school that had one of the MOST competitive recruitments in the US I quickly found out that I had a lot of learning to do. So I go on line and researched everything I cold Google about SEC recruitment. I came across a post that suggested I get the book “A Southern Belle Primer or Why Paris Hilton Will Never be a Kappa Kappa Gamma“. Grabbed the purse and keys and headed to Barnes and Noble but alas they didn’t have it!!!! In fact the nice man looked at me like I might need a straight jacket and an escort to the funny farm. Probably should have gone on and one about sorority life and making sure that my daughter got a bid and having to learn the social graces of the south. The outfit most likely didn’t help the cause either..Bama sweat pants., crimson bandanna tied in the hair with the little pointy parts sticking out to resemble horns and my APhi sweatshirt on….yep I was the epitome of a southern bell alright .
I had to order it on Amazon. Took a whole week!!!!!! But when ti finally arrived I quickly peeled back the cotton candy pink cover and began to read.
Today is your lucky day because I am going to share with you just a couple of tid bits I learned from this bible of southern etiquette.
First of all when you are getting ready to go through recruitment you need to let people know where you are from. So when you are demurely sitting at ice water teas and a sorority girl asks you where you are from they expect a proper answer. You have to say that your are Suzy Smith from Chicago Illinois and that your daddy is Steve Smith the banker not Steve Smith the lawyer and that you are related to Smiths in Indianapolis on your daddy’s side as your grandaddy’s brother moved there to build the first saving and loan.
If that sorority girl says that she’s been to Chicago and where do you live then instead of saying “6333 Magnolia Ave” you say well you head down the Loop and get off at Pershing and go up pas the Standford Arms apartment house, not the old one on the left because that’s now a homeless shelter but the pretty one with the big glass windows that over looks the lake. And then you go straight past the diner that has those tacky Chinese New Years decorations still up from last year and go to the red fire hydrant and turn right and your house is the burgundy one (the color of fine wine your daddy says) with the green shutters…you will then touch the girl’s arm and explain that momma wanted to paint the shutters last year but the handy man fell and broke his leg and so now he is living in the homeless shelter.
I am not kidding!! For those of you coming from the North (You Yankees!!!) I know this may sound crazy but I have really heard conversations like this and in fact have had the experience to be smack dab in the middle of several.
In addition we’ve talked about legacies but no one takes being a legacy more seriously that the dear ladies of the SEC. When you talk to mothers and daughters as you strike up conversations at pre-recruitment events they will tell you that 5 generations of women have been Phi Mu’s . They will go on to tell you, while glancing at the Phi Mu Show and Tell table and speaking just loud enough to make sure that the members who are standing there can hear, that Grandma Mary was President of her sorority at Ole Miss and went onto be President of the National Organization and there is a silver tea service engraved with her name on it right there in that formal dining room to this day! In other words ladies you had better listen up because this little sweetheart better be holding a Phi Mu bid card on bid day or phones will be ringing off the hook!
Although it doesn’t happen much any more I have heard that when asking women to write recs for their daughters, mothers will deliver beautiful baskets of baked goods with personalized embroidered linens that will say Suzy Smith in the Zeta colors of turquoise and gray. Hint hint :).
I could go on and on but I have to save some goodies for another time and beside y’all better get baking :).
Oh and to my dear southern friends…you guys know who you are….please don’t be offended by the above. I love you and the way you talk and explain and the fact that y’all are so kind and thoughtful……I so wish I had grown up southern!