PEER PRESSURE 101 by Dee Caples
we look since they weren’t evolved primates. Later when they began to change we had to, too. There were more of us here then but the number has grown alarmingly small since so many Grendars have elected to go back to our home world.
It’s downright annoying to keep moving around all the time and using the Skinerator to make a
new people suit every hundred years or so. I hate wearing them because no matter how hard we try they don’t look right. For instance, they force us to stoop our shoulders to fit inside the thin skeleton frame.
Our walk is more of a shamble and the “skin” is always a tad tight. Mom insists I keep it on except Sundays for appearance’s sake. It’s such a relief to peel it off once a week and go naked in the house. When you’re six and a half feet tall and have a head shaped kind of like a peanut it’s not easy to get dates. Mostly ugly girls say “yes” but not all of those want to take in a movie with me. Dad says not to worry, we can always contract for a Grendar bride later on. “And it’s not like you can have sex with a human,” he reminds me.
I wish they’d get on with it. I’m probably the only virgin on the planet that’s a hundred and two years old. Do you know how many times I’ve graduated from high school? Sixteen. While they don’t blame me for being the reason we’ve had to move so many times, I kind of blame me. It’s imperative that we blend in so when I hit another growth spurt and had to have a new outfit made, we moved.
Dad’s job is to monitor the seismic activity on Earth and it’s easy for him to mingle among the
eggheads. They all look and act weird. Mom trained to become a doctor, which was easy for her, being a Grendar physician already. I’m the one having trouble norming in.
Standing before the mirror, I take one last look at my real face before I pull the suit on and go to
class. I’m attending university and pledging Sigma Phi Delta tonight so I’m pretty gilled. The guys would have run from me screaming if they knew what I really look like. Not the body so much, but the face. My Grendar face is smaller and in the center of my head but it looks like a vagina with a large glowing coal peering out. I shake my head and sigh then fix the skin in place so it seals seamlessly together and comb my “hair”. Grabbing my backpack, I head down for breakfast.
Mom has a real treat waiting for me, Grendar food. She brought some grtxzpk back from her
trip to Mexico City where she was called to perform a bltsmvt-oscopy on a fellow alien. She kisses me and says, “We’re so proud of you! Sit down and eat. You have a big day ahead.” I happily do as she says. It’s not every day we get to eat something from the home planet.
It’s not too difficult to concentrate on my studies, even if I am more excited than I’ve been since
learning to ride a bike. My best friend, Tommy Sczowics, gives me a thumbs up in English comp class. He’s pledging Sigma tonight, too. I meet him outside Keller Hall after the final class today and we hurry over to his house where his mom has meatloaf and mashed potatoes prepared. I resist the urge to pour bar-b-que sauce over everything. How was I to know you don’t put it on chocolate pie? That got me some strange looks. Everyone but his kid sister was too polite to remark on it.
On the drive to the fraternity house Tommy lights a joint. Understand this: it affects Grendars
differently so I only pretend to hit it but can’t help getting a little smoke into my system. After a few minutes I have to resist the urge to laugh maniacally and pick my ears. My singing voice is atrocious but I howl along when the radio plays an old tune by The Ramones. Punk music is the closest thing to our own so Mom and Dad were content to let me bang out the speakers on my stereo when it was the fad.
Dad has lectured me plenty on not losing my shit tonight. I’ve practiced drinking over the past few months so I’m pretty sure I won’t do anything too embarrassing. We enter Drummond House, home of the Sigma Phi’s, and halt just inside the door. The hodge-podge of couches and
chairs have been cleared from the group room and it’s now lit by numerous candelabra, making the wood floors gleam. It also makes the cowled figures of the brothers look ominous.
Carl Jurgens, the president speaks and his voice echoes off the high ceiling. “Enter pledge boys. Tonight you’ll leave as Sigma Phi Delta men.”
Tommy and I take our place among the pledges, speak our vows in a solemn, dignified way and
they pin us. I feel a flutter in my gorbeck. There are some Earth traditions that we find hilarious, like funerals and veterinary visits, but this ceremony is one Grendars could respect. It has pomp and serious meaning attached to the promises we’re making in this Greek language it took me so long to learn. I could read it after five minutes of study but when your tongue is split three ways and stuffed into this tiny, little meat sack it’s hard to get the pronunciation right.
After the show’s over the brothers cheer the new additions to their fold, turn on the lights and
give us a shower in that fizzy alcoholic beverage known as champagne. I’ve never understood the significance of that particular custom but there’s a lot that’s strange about humans even after all this time. It’s good that I worked so hard on my drinking test because this is definitely an occasion for getting drunk. I even know every term for it. Blitzed. Snockered. Hammered. Falling-down-puking-stinko. I hope I’ve become so intimately acquainted with beer and tequila that the last won’t happen but I believe it’ll be okay if it does. Getting pinned by your fraternity is such a big deal that everyone will understand if I do fall face first into my own vomitus or that of any of my brothers. These would be acceptable things.
We’re called noobs, which roughly translates in Grendar to hutrlgts orbiytlzt, and we hop about
in a circle with our arms around each other while we sing the hymn of the organization we’ve proudly joined. Yes, we’re highly inebriated and I still have a perilous amount of marijuana in my system. That’s why the danger of the next phase didn’t soak in for a few minutes. “Get the lights someone. It’s time for The Revelations to begin!” says Dicky Smucker, the vice president.
By candlelight we’re told to sit in a circle and face the Sigmas. Alf Thornsvald, the treasurer, holds a candle under his face. It’s a face that comes kind of close to mine, the high cheekbones and strong chin. Now it looks stern and ghastly.
“Men of Beta-Pi chapter, we come to the moment that will link us all as long as we may live. Our secrets are your secrets and your secrets will become ours to keep. No one ever outside our own will be able to know what is spoken within these walls.”
Carl Jurgens slams his fist on the floor and looks pretty serious when he adds, “On pain of death.” He grins and begins the ritual. “My secret you must take to the grave is that I’m the grower of our sacred plant of which we shall partake before leaving.”
“But I don’t smoke pot,” says Willie Smythe-Hollingsworth.
“You will tonight,” Wilhelm Capote assures him. He goes next, telling us that he once let his
step sister go down on him. Most of the secrets that are told stem from one sexual misdeed or the other.
Boxer Stemhoard, a noob, stammers as he tells about the time he had to have stitches in his anus after swallowing a piece of asphalt. Billy Suarez admits he liked it when they made us dress in drag.
“I especially enjoyed the feel of silk panties,” he says.
I listen to Tommy tell about the time he pried his dog’s mouth open so he could pee in it,
wondering what the hell I can tell to even compare with the stupidity of swallowing a bit of roadbed. I ponder this and I’m so drunk I can only come up with one thing.
By now all my new brothers have confessed and it’s my turn. I swallow and nut up. They have to keep my secret, don’t they? They’ve sworn they will and I’m so potted I believe it.
“Sigmund Thresher,” Carl says and all eyes fall on me. Yes, all right. I’m named after a famous
psychiatrist and a piece of farm equipment. Suck it. “Reveal your deepest, darkest secret.”
Very badly do I want to fit in with these fellows. There’s nothing I’ve ever wanted any more. I
sigh out loud. Here goes. “I was born on Earth but I’m really a space alien.”
Everyone just looks at me for a minute then the yelling starts. Carl signals for silence and
scowls at me. “No, man. Something real. Don’t give us this shit. Out with it.”
“I’m not kidding!” I say. There’s a lot of eye rolling and cursing. It kind of makes me mad and,
I hate to own up to it, but I have a hell of temper for a Grendar. Standing up, I take hold of the back of my head and part my skin suit and pull it down to chest level.
There is a lot of gasping, leaping away from me and even a few screams of the manly, dignified
sort but no one runs away or tries to attack me. I let them have a good, long look at my real face.
“Dude!” Thorsvald says, slipping back to within two feet of me. His expression is one of horrified
fascination. “Your face looks like a pussy!”
“Look at that bush!” someone says in awe.
Tommy is white as a sheet. After all, we’ve had camp outs in his backyard and gone swimming
in the raw at the lake. He had no idea. I feel bad as he says, “Except for that...that...eye.”
“Yeah, man. If not for that eye I could put my cock in your face and fuck it,” Capote says,
bending down to look up at me.
I snarl and whip around to stare him down. “Don’t even try.” And I show him my real teeth.
Carl begins pacing. “Oh, my God. Nothing in the rule book can even touch this one.”
Thorsvald pulls at his chin whiskers and says, “He’s a girl. Our new brother is a female.”
“I’m not a girl, motherfuckers!”
He throws up his hands and says, “With a vagina face, you’re going to have to prove it.”
I kick one of the brass spittoons over, undo my skin fly and piss in it. That gets a fresh spate of
“Aw fucks!” and “Whoas!” until I put my weasel back in and close up.
Dewey Little is the first to speak up afterward. “Look at his tongue, guys. None of us will get
within ten miles of a clitoris if the chicks see that.”
Suarez frowns down at the bespectacled, cave-chested freshman. “You’ve never been that
close to a clitoris.”
“Great!” I roar and the sound of it bounces off the walls and ceiling a few times. Glaring at
them as they leap back in alarm, I fix my mask into place. Angry and mortified don’t even begin to describe how I feel. When I tell Mom and Dad they’re going to freak and start packing. “I trust the best friends I’ve ever had with the hard truth about me and this is what I get!”
Carl nods his head and makes a gathering gesture with his hands to the others. Swallowing hard, he faces me and says, “Sig, calm down. Men, we of Beta-Pi have made first contact. Since he told us during the secret ceremony we can never betray a brother.” One of Carl’s many talents is his acting ability and he brings it to the fore just as he did during the stage production of Rocky Horror Picture Show this spring. “But we will know and it’s on our honor to protect Sig’s true identity. We didn’t know he was from outer space until now but he’s a member of our chapter and pinned to the fraternity. What do you say?”
Dicky Smucker’s lips quiver and he says, “Your nickname among us shall be Twat.”
One head begins to nod, then another and another. Carl raises his hand. “So say we one, so say we all?”
“Aye!” is the rousing answer.
I am in!