It all started innocently enough.
Duke “The Chin” Bronson, second-string quarterback and undisputed champion in the Greek Week “Beer Binge-O’-Thon,” decided to take a little trip. He was tired of the stagnant party scene at USC and wanted to move to greener pastures. Santa Barbara? No. Chico? Hardly.
Mardi Gras? Sounds right.
The Chin flew the red eye on Southwest Airlines, subsisting on under-salted peanuts, honey-ham logs and four ounces of Sprite. Arriving in the Big Easy, The Chin bought naked breast beads and slammed a few dozens hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s before slumping into an alcohol coma. It’s unknown how he got on the plane back, although there was a stamp on his ass that said “Property of Bruno.”
There was also the matter of the alligator head.
For some reason, the gumbo-munching folks of New Orleans litter their tourism shops, pubs, bars, saloons, antique shops and other establishments of high quality with the preserved heads of baby alligators. And people buy them. Inexplicably, when people want to look back on their vacation to Louisiana, they want to look into the glossy, vacuous eyes of a decapitated alligator.
The Chin pulled a head out of his backpack, wondered for a moment when he was sober enough to pry his wallet from his jeans to purchase the thing, smiled and tied the head to the top of his bag. That was when all the confusion began.
Walking down the Row towards campus one day, a pack of sorority girls noticed the alligator head and turned to follow The Chin. Their vacuous, glossy eyes found solace in false serenity of the alligator’s and they began to giggle mercilessly.
“Oh my God,” said one of the girls, “the Chin has a baby alligator for a pet! He is so cool.”
“All the frats should have a pet alligator,” said another. “What kind of mascot is some ratty homeless dog? The Chin carries a baby alligator in his backpack. We should get an exchange with their house as soon as possible.”
As the Row is the Mecca for trendiness as well as inaccurate rumor-mongering, word got out that being fashion conscious demanded ownership of baby alligators. Girls threw away their tiny backpacks and four-inch platform sneakers and adopted reptiles by the dozens. Freshmen living in university residence halls snuck their new pets into their dormitories, with mixed results.
One resident advisor was brutally mauled in a Pardee Tower bathroom when he sat down on the can and realized he had company.
“It was horrible,” said the R.A., who wished to remain unidentified. “I had just grabbed a copy of the Daily Trojan and was about to sit down and enjoy hearing how our sports teams suck when it bit me. I thought it was an urban legend, but the alligator wasn’t white and we don’t live above the New York City sewer system.” The alligator, sitting placidly in the third floor hallway, was eating a cockroach when it was detained.
Two weeks passed, and practically everybody owned an alligator. They trotted around campus with smug, toothy grins on their face, while their hapless owners stayed tethered to them on a leash ten or fifteen feet away. A number of cinema students were eaten, but that was seen more as a blessing than anything else.
Soon, the rap-around Oakleys, board shorts, goatees, sideburns and Tommy Hilfiger shirts were left in the dust. To be seen, nay, to exist, an alligator was needed. Traditions sponsored an Alligator Night where pet owners could relish in the irony of watching their reptilian friends eat fried alligator, or squirm in jealousy that the food being served to their pets was better quality than the food sold everywhere else on campus.
Unfortunately, the owners of the pet alligators failed to realize that, like all carbon-based life forms, they grow. And whereas a Tommy Hilfiger shirt will only grow unpopular in the coming months, alligators increase in size, danger and appetite.
USC President Steven B. Sample called an urgent meeting to address the burgeoning ranks of alligators on campus.
“We’ve got to do something,” Sample said as he paced furiously. “I swear to God, these college kids today are idiots! How did this whole ridiculous fad even get started?”
The Board of Trustees had no answer.
Sample sat in a huff. “I mean, look at all the stupid things the students have latched onto in the past eight years since I took over as president! Looting, pillaging, N’Sync, beanie babies, Caesar-style haircuts, sport utility vehicles, Kyetay Beckner… I’m telling you,” he said, “these kids have no common sense.”
“I think Tupac had an alligator in one of his videos,” offered Provost Lloyd Armstrong.
“Since when do kids have common sense?” asked Cinema ‘professor’ Todd Boyd. “They scream for their individuality yet conform almost instantly to avoid peer pressure or appearing out of the ordinary. It’s like the Oscars.”
“How is this like the Oscars?” asked Sample impatiently.
Boyd paused for a moment. “Well… it really isn’t. I just hate the Oscars. They’re self-serving and pompous.”
Sample sighed. “Back to the matter at hand. How do we get rid of these dam reptiles?”
A hand came up from the back. A suggestion was offered. Sample smiled.
“That will do nicely,” Sample said with a devilish grin.
· · · · ·
There were no alligators. Students were happy. And well-fed. How had Sample, previously so ineffective at even raising money for the university, managed to placate three of the burning issues on campus at once?
For the previous three days, Pertusati Bookstore offered the full retail price on books resold to the university if a student brought their alligator in as well. Most of the students, having clasped onto other late-breaking trends like a corpse in the throes of rigor mortis, were happy to sell their pets and their textbooks back to the school for a profit.
And what of the alligators? Their skins were used for USC apparel, their meat used in the kitchens of EVK, where no one noticed the difference as no one goes within 30 feet of the cafeteria, let alone the meat.
Everything was fine. People had moved one. Until Spring Break.
“Oh my God, the Chin brought back chlamydia from Cabo? He is so cool.”
“Is that some kind of new perfume? How do I get a hold of some?”