the gregarious homebody

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Girls

When I got the job I have now as a sorority chef I was happy and slightly horrified. Happy because I had been at a place that was a nice place to work at but incredibly boring and not-in-the-least-bit challenging. And there is nothing worse to me than boring. My idea of a great day at work is when I have to figure out how I'm going to get all my stuff done in time, NOT one in which I get everything done early and then hang out for a few hours. I'm weird like that.

Anyhoo, I was happy that I was going to have to slam out lunch and dinner weekly for 51+ girls. It's the *sorority* that had me horrified. First of all, I myself went to a college that not only didn't have Greek Life, it didnt't have a football team or any other common sport. SUNY Purchase had Ultimate Frisbee (boys' team: Atomic Dogs; girls' team: Atomic Bitches) and instead of sororities and fraternities it had a Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Union that was extremely well-attended. Oh, and I was a Women's Studies major. You get the picture.

So I had a preconceived notion of sororities, mostly comprised from Animal House (remember Babs with her pearls?) with a dash of the bitchy sniping of some of the snotty girls I went to high school with. HH and I always thought of the Greek system as one in which *friends* were purchased. He still, 1000 years after college yells "GDI!" when someone asks him if he was in a frat.

But I was hired by the closest thing to perfect that a sorority could be for someone like me. Nice girls who came in all shapes and sizes--athletes and dancers, brainy geeks and bubbly goofballs, born rich and working class. A house that is a sort of microcosm of the Real World (if the real world had secret rituals and Hell Week because yeah, there is a bit of that there too). I was hired by a 19 year old in the sophomore class who was waaaaaay more nervous than I was at the interview. And though I had to TRY OUT (huh? never had to do that before), I felt almost immediately that I was going to get the job simply because I talked to the girls and made them laugh. Well that and the chocolate mousse cake I served.

So I started the job with a lot of notions in my head (and yes, there are a lot of sororities who fit the stereotype here too), but also with a mind willing to be open to this new experience. Before long I totally got the whole sisterhood thing. Lehigh is an extremely competitive college and has only been coed for 30 years. And, whether they realize it or not, I think women still have to prove themselves worthy of being there, let alone being there as engineering majors. The sorority house provides them with a place where it's okay to be a goofy girl and I think that's really valuable. I didn't have that experience at my school because for one, the gender lines were blurred and two, were celebrated for that. As my dad like to point out, my college's colors were lavender and white.

So why am I feeling sort of nostalgic about the beginnings of this job? Because my sophomore class is graduating. I've only been there 2 1/2 years but I feel about them like I feel about my own kids in that I can't believe they're this grown up already! They were the class that hired me and because they were also the class that fired the former cook who made tuna casserole at least twice a week and also made them too scared to come into the kitchen, they remember what it was like before I was there and so, consequently, they LOVE me.

They are an amazing group of girls too. A few of them wowed me almost daily with their insightfulness and maturity. One of them is someone who I'd like to be when I grow up. A good number of them are the kind of girls I hope my daughter becomes. I will miss them terribly next year and think of them often. And though they laugh at my assertion that I will just be a blip in their college memories, I know that I won't be hearing from the majority of them anymore. It makes me sad because they've made an impact on me. And I think with all my heart that they'll make a real impact on the world when they get out there. And I'll be so proud to say that I knew them when.


Steve said...

GDI !!!!!!

Kristen's Raw said...

Saw your green smoothie recipe on another person's blog. Thought I'd stop by and say "yay for green smoothies!"

Cheers :)

jen said...

Welcome, Kristen. I'm no Raw Girl-I'm more of an omnivore. But I do loves me some green smoothies.

jozette said...

That was really touching. I work at a college with grad students and get to know them pretty well. And when it's time for them to graduate, I know I won't hear from them much if at all anymore. It's always sad for me to see them go, but then it also affords the opportunity to meet the new group coming in. You can learn so much from people ... even the ones who are not in your life for more than just a few short years.

jen said...

You're so right. A lot of what I learn is how freaked out I'll be when my kids are in college because I'm hyper aware of what they'll be doing! But it is so interesting to meet these girls because although they'r all "sisters" and think of themselves as One, they're all so different, for the good and the bad and the boring and the interesting. Even though it can be and annoying and exhausting, the girls make it always interesting.


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