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  • Writer's pictureJohn M Donovan

How Frank Orlander Joined the Psi Alfs

A previous draft of The Fraternity had a rather unorthodox chapter in which we met each pledge and active brother living in the Psi Alpha Chi house. This was rightly discouraged by a couple of different early readers, but just in case you were wondering about Zed’s big football-playing pledge father, Lloyd Brandenburg, this is a brief account of how he recruited his high school rival into the Psi Alfs.

* * *

Bloomington South grad Lloyd Brandenburg, a junior psych major and starting defensive tackle for the Trappers, seemed to Doug to be overly protective of his minuscule roommate Zed. “Thursday night all I had was that reading in Under the Volcano, which, by the way, makes no sense at all,” Zed said. “I finished a chapter and flipped on the TV at 9:30. Lloyd came back from the library and got all serious. He got down on one knee and told me how much it would mean to him if I would keep studying, at least until study hours were officially over. I mean, his eyes were starting to glisten.” Watching Lloyd and Zed together reminded Doug of an experiment from his high school health class, where everyone was assigned an egg to take care of for a week.

Soft-spoken sophomore econ major Frank Orlander, at 6’3 and 230, was a second-string guard for the Trappers. His all-conference career as a guard at Bloomington North High School was marred only by the countless times he had been run over by a Bloomington South defensive lineman named Lloyd Brandenburg. The two had met again at Shelby, at the first practice of Frank’s freshman year, and found that the year apart hadn’t changed much: Lloyd continued to run over his old foil in scrimmages.

Frank spent his first three months at Shelby living in one of the dorms. Lloyd cornered him by his locker one evening in the last week of practice.

“My pledge son just quit school,” said Lloyd. “Why don’t you join the Psi Alfs?”

“Why? So you can run over me in the hallway too?”

“Come on, you’d like it. It’s a great bunch of guys.”

“Nah. I’m not into that frat stuff.”

“Where are you, McCabe Hall?” taunted Lloyd, whapping Frank repeatedly on the shoulders. Whap on the left shoulder. Whap on the right shoulder. Whap, whap, whap. “Get out of that nursing home, boy—there’s a pledge spot open.”

Frank defended some of the blows and sat on the ledge in front of his locker, protecting his face. “All right, all right! I’ll join if you let me knock you on your ass in practice tomorrow.”


The next day was the final day of practice before the Southern Michigan game. In what was supposed to be a light scrimmage, Lloyd recorded three sacks against the second-string offense, running straight over the top of Frank Orlander each time. “What about our deal, Brandenburg?” said Frank, allowing his assailant to help him up again.

“I’m waiting. Knock me on my ass next time.”

The coach yelled “One more play,” and the second-string quarterback called for the bomb, which meant the offensive line would drop back and form a protective semi-circle around him, lessening Frank’s chances of dropping Lloyd. “How about a run to the right?” he suggested.

The quarterback sneered. “I’m throwing a bomb on two, Mr Lineman.”

Frank took his position and stared into Lloyd’s eyes. He remembered all the energy he had ever put into throwing blocks at the padded sleds, all the intensity he had ever expended flattening every defensive lineman except the one facing him, and, instead of waiting for the quarterback’s ‘two,’ he went on ‘one,’ imagining himself as a giant boxing glove, springing forward and knocking Lloyd Brandenburg fifteen feet backwards onto his ass.

“You’re in,” said Lloyd as Frank helped him to his feet.

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