In this world—the real world, where human beings are made of skin and bones and plasma—you are one of the many poor souls out there fighting to get (or keep) a job, to keep your bank account in the black just so that you can keep the water running and the lights on. You worry about the long-term future. How will I support a family? Is true success beyond the average American? Two decades from now, will I be even worse off than I am now? That's the real world.
But in the world of filthy rich insane people, the primary worry is this: Did I hire the right image coach for my daughter's sorority rush? The New York Times' Abigail Sullivan Moore took a longform look at what parents are doing to get their little Annyston into Delta Delta Delta, and somehow the word PURGING doesn't appear once. It's quite a feat. Look at this fucking thing:
MARGARET KING of Birmingham, Ala., was at a loss about how to help her older daughter prepare to rush at the University of Virginia.
What's there to prepare? It's a house full of girls, not a bar exam. Here's how you should prepare your kid for rushing a sorority:
DAUGHTER: I'm gonna rush a sorority!
YOU: I'm not paying any fucking dues, missy.
So Mrs. King, who graduated from Yale in 1984, before it had any sororities, enlisted the aid of Marlea Foster and Pat Grant, local consultants who had coached their own daughters through rush at Furman, the University of Georgia and Auburn University. Naming themselves the Rushbiddies, they opened shop in 2009 after hearing about the rush misfortunes of their daughters' friends.
Please note that while emerging global powers are starting companies that develop cool apps and are pioneering all kinds of miraculous breakthroughs in the world of biotechnology, we Americans have the fucking Rushbiddies. Every new small business in America over the past four years has been either in the field of sorority rush branding, or selling overpriced cupcakes. WE ARE LOSING THE BATTLE. I'm gonna start a companion frat company to the Rushbiddies called PledgeBROZ, and we're gonna teach you how to funnel a beer and fingerblast a drunk chick properly. All for $125 an hour. Our motto? BROZ BEFORE NOS. Greatest small business idea ever? I think you'd have a hard time arguing otherwise.
About 50 mothers and their "chicks," as the Biddies affectionately call them, attended one of their two-day workshops in April ($100 a couple), complete with mock rush party, wardrobe hints and paperwork prep.
I love that there's a mock rush party. I hope all the "sisters" at the party are cardboard cutouts of real people, like the terrorist cutouts you see on an CIA field training course. DON'T OFFER THE PUNCH TO THAT OLD LADY! SHE'S A CIVILIAN!
The smart rushee, the Biddies advise, will have a résumé stressing community service, leadership, academics and teamwork, letters of recommendation from alumnae of each chapter, preferably on the campus in question, and reference letters.
What?! FUCK THAT. For that much work, you deserve a spot at the Naval Academy.
With the help of Ms. Foster and Ms. Grant, who wears a pink feather boa during workshops...
Of course she does.
...Mrs. King asked alumnae of about 10 chapters, several from U.Va., to write her daughter's recommendations. To guide their plaudits, she sent them packets with a professional photograph, transcript and résumé. To thank them, she dropped off a bottle of rosé in their mailboxes.
And, as a final touch, she made sure to dig her French manicured nails into the palm of each alumnus while shaking hands, being certain to mention that her husband has connections to organized crime.
For a generation that grew up on tutors, admission counselors and relentless competition, prepping for rush seems only natural.
Oh, of course! For a generation that's been told by their parents that they can achieve nothing on their own, I think it's perfectly natural for them to hire a coach to help them with the impossible task of talking to other college students. Frankly, I don't know what college kids did to help encourage socialization before this service existed. Oh, apart from getting shitfaced.
Samantha von Sperling...
That's not a real name. That's a murder suspect in a "Masterpiece Mysteries!" episode.
...is an image consultant in New York, but lately her bread-and-butter Wall Street clients have asked her to help their daughters get ready for rush at schools like Harvard; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and New York University.
Of course Wall Street people are spending their money on shit like this. It's not enough for Wall Street people to WASTE their money. They have to go the extra mile and spend money on things that are actually counterproductive.
"It's the same kind of coaching I do on Wall Street," Ms. von Sperling says.
O RLY? Well, that's just great. I'm glad that all Wall Street interactions occur at the sorority level. It delights me to now know that our entire financial system is being run by people who will happily murder one another over the embossing on a business card.
"Sorority recruitment is like no other experience that you will ever have for the rest of your life," says Sunday Tollefson, author of "Rush Right: Reveal Your Best You During Sorority Recruitment."
"You're judged for your looks, AND you throw up a lot!"
"It's like speed dating meets interviewing meets beauty pageant meets upscale academic summer camp, complete with a counselor."
It's like speed dating meets Wall Street meets chess meets Global Thermonuclear War meets Clueless meets being raped by Chad at the DU mixer! Let's take a look at Sunday's book and see what kind of strategies are needed:
How to minimize any traits that can jeopardize your invitations
"Don't be fat."
How to recover from conversational accidents with special damage control techniques
"OMG did I just say I support open immigration? I meant to say I THINK OUR MEXICAN GARDENER IS STEALING MY PANTIES."
Appealing facial expressions, confident body language and good conversational skills are critical. "Practice, practice, practice in the mirror, saying your name, and see what you look like when you listen," advises Denise Pietzsch, an etiquette consultant in Ohio who works discreetly with clients heading to Miami University. "If you're a great active listener, they will remember you because you let them talk." Her typical fee: $125 an hour.
What's so freaky about this is that you're paying $125 for the privilege of being trained to be a non-person. A normal human being learns to interact with other people by, like, growing up and learning shit. Whereas we have an entire system set up to teach college kids to interact with one another in ways that are completely unnatural. You're eighteen. Everything out of your mouth shouldn't sound like a fucking elevator pitch. You should learn to talk to your peers the way I learned to talk to my peers, by reciting lines verbatim from Ferris Bueller's Day Off and then praying the other person has seen it.
Ms. von Sperling offers a Friday-to-Sunday intensive, for $8,000.
Eight thousand dollars? Fuck you.
One day is devoted to carrying yourself properly and the art of conversation. Treat rush, she says, as you would a job interview. Avoid politics and religion.
By all means, AVOID deep, important topics that might allow you to connect with someone on a spiritual level. You know how, sometimes when you're in college, you get drunk with a friend and stay up till 4am talking about death, and God, and what this all MEANS? That's for losers. Real "chicks" steer the convo back to "Bunheads," thank you very much.
"I teach them how to make interesting small talk: what you saw at the cinema, a trip to Europe...
Or if you haven't been to Europe, your trip to Kroger.
...I don't know too many 20-year-olds who are having a debate about economics."
That's just the thing. You CAN be 20 and talk about economics. I encourage it. What you say might be complete shit, but at least you're giving it a shot. You're at college to learn about such topics, not to learn how to become a vapid pair of tits. Don't talk about fiscal policy! People might think you have a brain!
Another day is for getting physically ready - hair, makeup and wardrobe.
Don't forget the girdle!
Ms. von Sperling organizes "outfits down to accessories, completely strategized." Just in case a client forgets, outfits are photographed and placed in a style file.
Just in case you're too stupid to dress yourself properly, here's a dossier. We don't trust you to not dress like a cheap slutbag.
When Rachel Lewis was president of Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Kansas, parents asked: "Should I buy all J. Crew clothing? Do they need designer purses?"
Not asked by parents: What kind of biology department does this school have? I picture these parents frantically cramming for rush with their daughters, forcing them to memorize topics about the local "cinema" on flash cards. Pink flash cards with cute little rabbits drawn at the top.
Her advice: "Dress like you are meeting your boyfriend's parents. If it's too short or too tight or too out there, it won't impress."
DON'T DRESS LIKE A WHORE, YOU WHORE.
The Rushbiddies host a fashion workshop at Saks Fifth Avenue in Birmingham.
That's the most Alabama thing ever. There's a certain delight in knowing that Southern sorority culture has remained exactly the same since fucking 1952. "Learn to eat pie and put down the help like a LADY. And yes, there will be a designer purse section on the final exam."
Because the experience can be so emotional, consultants provide "on-call services."
Late at night, you wonder how you're gonna pay for your children's insulin shots. Meanwhile, off in an affluent Alabama suburb, Little Miss Hilly has to wake up her Rush Coach at 4am because she almost had a complete thought about economics.
Many aspiring sisters spend their summer working out and dieting.
Not mentioned: violently purging in the bathroom at the Capital Grille after sharing a blackened chicken caesar with mother.
As rush grinds on, students often text their moms with frequent, sometimes tearful updates. "Drama Trauma Drama," wrote one weary mother on a Greek chat forum. For some mothers, empathizing with the pain of peer rejection is excruciating.
Well, it's your goddamn fault. Standing there over your kid's shoulder during the entire process essentially ruins any chance they have of coming to understand social rejection in a mature, dignified manner. You can't shield kids from rejection forever, and trying to do so only hinders their progress. Furthermore, hiring a fucking coach to help your kid with the rush puts even more pressure on them to not fuck it all up. A competent parent would hear about the "misfortunes" of other failed rushees and decide to sit down with their daughter and have an open discussion about the pros and cons of trying to join a sorority. A STUPID parent takes those horror stories and is like, "Well, I'm not letting THAT happen to mah little Hilly! We're hirin' a Rushcrone!"
"I lost six pounds that week," recalls Julie Baselice, whose daughter Christina is now a Chi Omega at the University of Texas. "It was the most stressful experience of my life."
But that six pounds you took off got you IN to Sigma Alpha Shitta! STAND PROUD. Oh, and that fur on your cheeks will go away once you start eating properly, which you should only do after finding a proper husband.
Candidates can rarely discern why a sorority rejects them.
"You had too much upper arm fat."
Indiana is reputed to have one of the toughest rushes.
Well, DUH. Everyone is Indiana is fat! How could ANYONE there get into a sorority?
Parents have complained on the Sorority Parents blog, operated by the National Panhellenic Conference, that space is too limited.
And there it is, in a nutshell. Goddamn, these sorority rushes are stressful and difficult, and they're affecting my kid's physical health, and hurting her self-esteem, and forcing her to interact with people in unnatural ways. WE NEED MORE SPOTS OPEN. THAT'S THE BEST SOLUTION.
This whole thing is so fucked.