not jumping to any conclusions

Today is a glorious day. Today is LDOC.

Most students enjoy the annual “Last Day of Classes” for the free food, fun daytime activities and concert, which is headlined by either a washed up, freshly paroled or just plain terrible rap artist mumbling lyrics into the mic. But I have always appreciated LDOC for a different reason. To me, LDOC is not a day to celebrate reprieve from a tiring and seemingly endless semester of schoolwork, but rather a day to observe members of Duke’s premier secret society parading around campus.

The way in which these “brothers”—not sure if frat terminology applies—stoically march down Chapel Drive and around Clock Tower quad through the frenzy of Pratt-stars (who are celebrating their first glimpse of sunlight since January and their first beer ever) has always fascinated me. I have always wondered, “Could that one day be me?" Could I one day be what 99 percent of Duke students refer to as ‘a douchebag?’”

Knowing that the secret society only recruits juniors, I spent my entire freshman and sophomore year networking. With a stack of business cards highlighting my relevant experience—you’d be surprised at how much overlap there is between summer camp lifeguard and secret society brother—I set out in search of a contact. I went to all the usual stops—Investment club meetings, club squash mixers, Jam! darties—and yet still no luck. I had completely run out of business cards, and hadn’t received any word from the secret society. Then, one day, I got a call.

Well, actually it was a snap chat. It was a hazy picture of a guy standing still outside of Perkins library. The temperature filter indicated that it was 69 degrees—a humorous but unnecessary detail. The caption read: “Secret societies on the quad.” I shut my laptop—Gilmore Girls would have to wait—and rushed out of my dorm room to find that the secret society initiation process was beginning, and that I had not been chosen.

I had done everything right, but instead of standing in the rain for hours on end Sunday night, I found myself watching Lorelai and Luke split up while crying over a pint of Ben and Jerry’s AmeriCone Dream. This was not the “AmeriCone Dream.” I was taught that if I worked hard and made good decisions, I could be anything, even a member of a secret society, but I guess I was mistaken. Each bite of vanilla-caramel swirl ice cream tasted more bitter than the last. Unless I got a spoonful of fudge-covered waffle cone because that s**t is dank.

The truth is that I was just never cut out for a secret society. As a 5-foot-10-inch Jewish kid in what I generously describe to my friends from home as a “middle-tier fraternity,” I simply didn’t fit the mold. Furthermore, I am nowhere near wealthy enough for my lack of leadership abilities, terrible humor and overall bland personality to be discounted. If I wanted to join a secret society, I would have to start my own.

But as I previously said, I lack leadership abilities so that did not happen. Instead, I have spent the last 72 hours artificially trying to hype myself up for Tory Lanez, Daya, Cheat Codes and Bolivia Wedding, knowing that I will not be among the secret society brothers strutting the quad. I will spend my day silent disco dancing, participating in the “sober” Chapel Climb and obnoxiously asking the black guy on Duke’s A-Team if he’s B.A. (Mr. T’s character from the 1980s action-adventure series The A-Team) after I have had too much to drink, while suppressing feelings of rejection as robed brothers walk by.

The mysteries that lay beneath the robe are eternally tantalizing. Does Duke’s secret society perform ritual sacrifices? If so, I have a few suggestions from the computer science department. Is there a “sister” secret society at Duke Kunshan University? I wonder how much that costs. Do they exert an Illuminati-esque control over the university’s affairs? Unlikely, considering the university’s response to the lacrosse scandal back in 2006.

Although I was not chosen to be a part of the secret society, I will not let it ruin my penultimate LDOC. I intend to take full advantage of the day-long celebration at the end of the semester that is well deserved for all Duke students. But if one of those robed douchebags rolls his ankle while peacocking on the Chapel lawn, you can bet I’ll be there with my first-aid skills and a business card handy.

Jacob Weiss is a Trinity junior. This is his last column of the semester.

Jacob Weiss

Jacob Weiss is a Trinity senior. His column, "not jumping to any conclusions," runs on alternate Fridays.


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