The year was 2013 and I voluntarily sent myself to prison for the next four years. Not “prison” prison but The Citadel, one of South Carolina’s most prestigious colleges. The Citadel is a military college dating back to the pre-Civil War era and is rumored to have actually started the War for Southern Independence (as one of my close friends strictly calls it).
Everyone asks why the hell I went there (and how I made it out). In High School I was a skinny kid that was always dressing in preppy clothes- Polos, button-downs, khakis, etc. I had a hot girlfriend and seemed to be destined to be another one of Greenville High’s generic fraternity-destined products. Well as it turns out I had a come to Jesus moment with myself (shoutout to God). Senior year I was smoking weed every day several times a day, and I did not want to continue that lifestyle. So how could I make myself quit cold-turkey? Why by going to the only school that has random 5AM drug tests of course!
The Citadel is known for hazing the balls off of their freshman year students that they call knobs. The reason they call us knobs is because when I was there they made us shave our heads bald every week so we’d look like doorknobs. Mainly we just looked like penises. I can tell you that this storied hazing is a rumor because my balls are still attached to my body. But now that I think about it one of my friends did actually get his testicle ruptured by an upperclassman our knob year. Okay, it still exists but its not as bad as the stories sound. Sometimes.
I was a pretty terrible knob in the beginning. I was (read: am) stupid and was terrible at marching. My two only redeeming qualities were that I was really good at acting out scenes from movies and one of my sergeants said I had “retard-strength.”
When I was a knob they made all of us knobs sit with at least two senior officers to make sure that they kept us in line, aka making sure that we were robotic and brainwashed as possible. The seniors would often ask for mess facts which could be any trivial fact, current events, the weather forecast, or in my case movie quotes. So when my two officers asked me for a mess fact I asked if they’d like a movie quote to which they replied “Sure.” So I picked up a bottle of ketchup and mayo and did this scene from Billy Madison
There was a long pause. The two officers couldn’t register in their minds how ridiculous and spot on my impression was. They busted out laughing, asked me to do it again and to do it for their friends. For the rest of the 9 months I was there I was doing the shampoo and conditioner routine every time an upperclassman needed a pick-me-up. Countless snapchats and videos were taken of me and sent to God knows who.
But thats not how I became a viral sensation (the first time).
About 3 weeks in to our knob year we finally had a free weekend to where we could hit the town. So my classmate Alex and I knew exactly what we wanted to do with our Friday night: girls. I knew some freshman girls at College of Charleston which was 2 miles away. I had my friend’s older sister drive us to their dorms and buy us a bottle of tequila, and we all got wasted. So wasted in fact I took a picture with a neon pink ZTA hat, holding up the sorority’s hand sign while giving the creepiest stare I could muster. Needless to say I wasn’t worried about this picture ever being posted on the world wide web because I thought some people were decent enough not to post every damn thing on their camera roll or that pops in their head.
I was wrong. I was so wrong. I was so very, very wrong.
So Sunday rolls around, I go on facebook and I see that I’ve been tagged in that picture. I didn’t think it was a big deal because it was posted pretty recently and I untagged myself within an hour of it being posted. I didn’t think anyone from school would see it.
The senior officer that I thought I had just won over with my Billy Madison impression kicked down my door and charged in my room with my scary, demon spawn platoon leader. “Get on facebook RIGHT NOW!” He yelled. “He’s probably already on facebook,” sneered my platoon leader. I wasn’t. I was doing homework and I thought that would have won them over a little more since I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. As I typed in “face” on my search bar I had a pretty good idea what was going down. “Get on Citadel Safari.” The senior officer commanded.
Citadel Safari is the last place you want to end up while you’re at The Citadel. Think of it as a wall of shame but public for the whole world to see. Their about me reads:
“In order to ensure the longevity of the ideals, principles, and standards upon which The Citadel was founded, it is the cadet’s duty and obligation to protect them. This group exists to protect The Ring and expose the increasing lack of integrity as the means to achieve a better looking institution…”
So thats when I get blasted. I get reamed in reality and in cyberspace by all the upperclassmen at school, alumni, students at College of Charleston, and random internet dwellers. My classmates thought it was hilarious and I became a bit of a legend on campus. I felt bad about it for like a day and then when I started reading the comments I began to think it was pretty funny too. I actually began to get a lot of praise from upperclassmen about it after the initial week of humility. The worst part about it was that they made me do (A LOT OF) push-ups while holding up the ZTA hand sign. I had some pretty sore triceps for the next three weeks.
By the time sophomore year had rolled around a lot of people knew who I was and I had a pretty good reputation. They let me be a cadre squad corporal which basically meant that I had redeemed myself enough throughout my knob year to where they gave me an important position. So one day news breaks out that the CofC ZTA’s are coming to campus to do a bake sale. So I felt like it was my duty to pay homage to the sorority chapter that made me a campus celebrity, a safari legend, and the biggest joke The Citadel had ever produced. So I took another picture with them, hand signs and neon pink hat included and posted that shit right on to The Citadel Safari.