Mood: not sure
Topic: "He Ate the Olive!"(7)
When the time came for the Hobbit to become a member of Sigma Eta Xenophon at the College of the Shire, he had absolutely no idea what to expect from the process known as "pledging." He knew only that these were those with whom he wished to associate himself, and he was pleased and proud to be so affiliated. It did not take long however, for those in his "pledge class" to jointly agree that there were certain boundaries across which they would not proceed. That fact, above all others, is what unites them to this very day; it was not what they did, it was what they promised each other not to do.
After many sleepless nights, the primordial drumbeat of "Oompah, Oompah, Oompah-pa-pa" was a welcome refrain from the "Assume the position, Pledge." Wearing only an athletic supporter, the Hobbit bounced foot-to-foot around what had to be a 50-pound block of ice, upon which there rested but a single olive. He was instructed, as had been so many before, and others to follow, to stop dancing roundabout when the chanting halted, and to square himself over the block of ice so that both cheeks would surround the olive. If he were successful in securing the olive, then he would be excused in order to observe the efforts of his fellow pledges, one-by-one. If unsuccessful, he would have to eat the olive.
What neither the Hobbit nor his fellow pledges could know was that his brothers-to-be would switch the olive, since it was virtually impossible for any pledge shaped even remotely akin to a human being to hold the olive in the area between cheeks.
Frodo could have rested upon that block of ice for hours on end. The heat, rising from his scarred buttocks, melted away, and the chunk of ice was but a fraction of its prior self under the futile effort he expended in order to secure the olive. Laugh he did, when he realized the chicanery of his brothers-to-be.
Then came he of the lean and lanky build who, upon learning of the expectations of the feat, set upon the futile task of securing the olive amid the skinniest cheeks imaginable. Even with the "Oompah" chant proceeding at a fever pitch, he realized that there was no purpose served by a task so far beyond reality that he picked up the olive and tossed it aloft. Immediately, the room went silent, and as if in slow motion, the roomful of young men watched as the real olive was caught in his mouth and allowed to slide down the throat of the pledge into a gullet transformed by history.
Despite the passing of a half-century, "the" pledge is known to, and remembered, by all. Known he is to God and observers as "he who swallowed the olive." The serious questions asked about the wisdom, or lack thereof, which some feel important to the process of maturation, are remembered, even if not practiced, by men who serve you this day dear reader, as physician, teacher, apostle, and in a manner that leaves you grateful for having crossed their path. Read you the obituary, some day, of one identified as "he who swallowed the olive," and know that each of us has done something stupid, but that laughing about it is what makes the memorial process so much richer than simply singing songs and memorizing Chaucer's greatest lines.
Oompah, Oompah, Oompah-pa-pa. Perhaps chanting, and olives, are the items which bring us back, from time-to-time, to the roots of our very being. Perhaps that is what scares us. Perhaps.