It is November now and most regions of the country have watched the leaves fall and are now watching the snow. However, this is Florida and I wore my first long sleeve shirt of the season last week. While Florida may not have seasons besides Hot, Really Hot, Afternoon Showers followed by Intense Humidity and Hurricane Season, I have found a more diverse option. For four and a half years, I have been a sister of a sorority and for a Floridian Greek, there are also four seasons: Recruitment, Pledging, Formal and Initiation.
While I like the other seasons because they are pertinent to our chapter’s survival, I am thrilled that right now is formal season. That means everyone will be scrambling to find their old prom gowns, borrow dresses from other sisters or rummage through the sale rack at Dillard’s. I found mine on the $10 rack with a broken zipper and thanked goodness that I actually passed sewing in Home Ec. Formal is kind of a hybrid between being VIP at a club and a high school dance. Think prom minus the stuffy up-dos and goofy dates. Or minus parents taking posed pictures by the fireplace mantle.
Skipping out of Daytona a few weeks ago, a couple of my sisters and I joined the Sigma Chi fraternity for their annual White Rose formal. The formal was held at Ginn Resorts in Orlando, a five-star resort with villa-style homes and a water park for resort guests. We rented out the three bed roomed, fully furnished homes and one of the large ballrooms for the actual dinner. Dinner was an assortment of steak, salmon, veggies and a dark chocolate mousse torte. Then the room erupted in karaoke, revelries and, of course, dancing. Clad in my newly sewn dress (which was a little tight following dinner) and a Σ Χ sweetheart tiara, I managed to put a stiletto hole in the bottom of the crinoline while dancing. Heck, at least the dress was just $10. I can’t say the same for our hotel bill the next day.
The following weekend was my last sorority formal. The sorority alumni were in town and the formal was held at the site of my first sorority semi-formal in 2005. Talk about bringing home the bittersweet memories. The food held no candle to Ginn Resort, but on the tables were our party favors, picture frames with personal pictures. For the evening, I had borrowed my dress from a sister, one worn to the Sigma Chi formal a week earlier. Following my misadventures dancing in my own dress the past weekend, I opted out of ruining someone else’s more expensive gown. Instead, I walked around looking at a half decade of photos with sisters past, present and those to be initiated this upcoming week. After my walk down memory lane, my group left to take a walk in our gowns down Beach Street. We figured Daytona could use a classing up for the evening and spent the remaining evening at a local hotspot, joined by other alumni in for University Alumni Weekend.
During the evening we talked about our initial contacts with the sorority and what our first impressions had been. We had heard the stereotypes, like “Don’t you pay for your friends?” “Did you join just to be popular?” “Aren’t there nightly pillow fights?” While I have yet to partake in a pillow fight in my four years as a sorority sister, I know I have paid a lot of money for social activities and philanthropies with friends and become a fixture on my campus. Then again, being a part of the elite female society alone makes you known on campus with or without the sorority’s help. It was because of that elite female society that I joined. Bluntly, I needed some estrogen in my inner circle. So, I guess those stereotypes are basically correct. But, stereotypes aside, there is something more I love about being Greek. No, we don’t always get along. We are a group of girls after all. But, we do share a secret bond.
This week in our final season, Initiation, and we will have new sisters at the end of it who will be a part of that secret bond. It will be their job to hopefully keep up the seasons and I can sit back and remember my seasoned times. And while it won’t snow outside or stay below 100 degrees during the summer, I can still hope for a pillow fight season.