I had a surreal experience today as I was walking home from a park in northern Iowa City where the Associate of Graduate Students in English (AGSE) were having a Labor Day BBQ. My friend Jess (grew up in Austin before moving to New York; attended Grinnell for undergrad; post-colonialist with an interest in Virginia Woolf;) and I heard cheering and clapping as we walked down College St. and, 'lo and behold: a sorority!
Ive seen the houses, and it's not as if I don't realize that they are there. In the evenings you can usually spot over-dressed girls in too-high heels meandering in large groups from one mansion to another. But this sorority encompassed everything I have ever suspected a sorority to be. Thin blonde girls en masse, grouped thickly in tides of short-shorts and tight pink t-shirts, jumping up and down and cheering... leaning out the window over the door and yelling... throwing water balloons and squealing...
We laughed and continued to walk.
Then we spotted ANOTHER sorority, further down College St. These girls, similarly thin and blonde, were chanting. Here we parted ways and I continued down Lucas. However, I had not made it down the entire block before I was halted by a true spectacle.
It was another sorority. A giant cardboard strawberry was perched beside the human-sized Greek letters in the front yard, behind which was a gigantic inflatable... thing?
It appeared to be the type of obstacle course that you see late at night on television, often with Asian people trying to go through.
I called Jess on my cell phone and she joined me in watching the events in the yard unfold. All of the girls were wearing blank tank tops with strawberries painted on the back, and a girl who must have been in charge told them over a megaphone that it was "time for the group picture." I was disappointed not to see the giant inflatable obstacle course in action.