I’m trying to make a point to blog about books i’ve read, so here goes….
Over the weekend i read “The Real Animal House” by Chris Miller. He’s the same guy who co-wrote the movie Animal House which went on to be come the largest grossing comedy of all time. Chris also went to dartmouth (like me) and was a brother in the Alpha Delta fraternity (like me).
The book was interesting for two main reasons:
First, it was really interesting to see what college life was like in the early 1960’s because of the emergence of rock n’ roll and the absence and importing of women at/to the school. Chris was really into rock and roll, which was new on the scene. Rock and roll at the time was played exclusively by African Americans and was not universally listened to. When rushing a frat, he remarked that most of the frats didn’t even know about Rock at all. AD back then fully embraced it and most of his stories either revolved around the music or at least discussed what what music was playing. The management of women at colleges in the 60’s is amazing. Women would train up to dartmouth for a weekend and be paired with a date for the entire time which would transform the entire campus. For the guys, it was like going on a 2-3 day blind date. As someone who’s been on a bunch of blind dates, i can see how this would be painful (both for the men and the women) and could lead to some social madness. I can also see why there was so much alcohol involved. Further discussion with my parents about this time has shown that travelling to schools and finding the right guy/girl was one of the main mechanisms provided at the time to find a suitable husband. Keep in mind that no sex before marriage was believed to be normal and there weren’t many options for birth control. After reading this, i’m very happy that i came through 40 years later when women were on campus and many of the dating conventions have been changed.
Second, the rushing and fraternity experiences provided great reading. Some of the events have changed (no more fires), but the kind of people who are hanging around in the basement are the same, the spirit of the house is the same, and the love and desire of just hanging out is exactly the same in my time as it was 40 years before. The entire book made me incredibly nostalgic for my college years and dartmouth. Then i remembered that i’m lucky to be out – as Dean Wormer says: fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.
One thing that i was surprised to read was the details of Chris’s sex life. Describing each and every boner and his desire of each woman added some authenticity to the story and put you into the mind of a 19 year old boy, but was not at all what i expected.
I’m not sure how this book will read if you’re coming from a different school with a different frat system – or if you’re a female. My guess is that his experiences at Dartmouth and AD are pretty universal and if you can’t relate to a specific event you at least have been involved with or know about similar instances. This is what made the original Animal House movie so great – everyone knows a Bluto, a Pinto, an SAE. Maybe not the exact guy, but you get the idea.
You mind if we dance with your dates?