Monday, October 24, 2011

Frat Life 101: A Very Different Costume Party

In the summer of 1986 I attended Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training for the Oklahoma National Guard which was not exactly my idea of the perfect way to spend a summer. There's something about spending the majority of your time outside marching, doing pushups and so forth that kind of ruins the day. Still, it was required in order for me to get my bonus check and I thought it would be best to get all of the training out of the way at once. I came back in the beginning of October and at the end of the month decided to go down to NSU and see all of my friends in Sig Tau right on time for a Halloween costume party. Once I got to Tahlequah I hung out with some friends and we started planning on what kind of costume I could cobble together on short notice.

The key was to use what was on hand, buying things to use for a one time occasion wasn't really an option. What we came up with was very simple, I hadn't shaved so we put on my black military trench coat and my military glasses that I had tinted black and decided I would be a terrorist. Our only research material on the subject was having seen action movies and their stereotypical versions of what terrorists looked and acted like. Still, it wasn't enough, something more was needed so we took some penny rolls and filled them with something (don't remember what) and then taped them together. That was my explosives. An old stereo microphone was added as my detonator and the costume was finished.

Well I walked in to the party and loudly informed everybody that I was seizing it until my demands were met and was immediately taken down and "disarmed" by a few of my friends. This was the first they had seen of me for about five months and most of them didn't know that I was even coming to the party so they were happy to see me. Most of them anyway. The rest of the night was a celebration of friendship for me but it also was the beginning of the end. I chose not to go back to college and in a few short months I moved back home to Ohio and then ended up joining the active Army because I really couldn't see any future for myself back there or anywhere else for that matter. I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life (some would say I still don't know) and the Army was a job, something that I could do for at least four years without thinking much about the future. My world was never the same.

This was twenty-five years ago and it shows how much our world has changed. Back then terrorism had not made it's way to our shores, it was an abstract concept to us. Sure it existed all over the world but it wasn't real to us because we had never experienced it, it had never touched our lives or anyone that we knew. For us it wasn't a big deal to dress as a terrorist, it was even considered funny, but a lot has changed over the years since then. We've had homegrown and foreign terrorist operations on our soil to deal with. The world wide web has shown us vividly how bad the rest of the world has had it. Now the very thought of wearing such a costume would be considered to be in bad taste. But back then it was a simpler time for us. There was no thought of how others would react to something that was only meant to be a joke, where no harm was ever intended. With the world we live in now I often long for those simpler days when my eyes had not been shown what we humans are capable of.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

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