by the Chi Psi Kangaroo | The Minor
I guess I always knew this day would come. For the last six months, I’ve been telling my parents that I got a job working at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, a 500-acre enclosure with plenty of grass and room to roam—a real respectable place. I remember the look on my mom’s face when I first told her the news. She was so proud of her little Jill.
But the truth was I hadn’t been accepted to Asheboro, or Charlotte either. I didn’t get accepted anywhere. At that point, I knew that I couldn’t just go back to living at home—there’s no way we would’ve had enough food for me and my sisters—and North Carolina is no place for a broke, unemployed Jill. So I did what I could. I started working petting zoos, birthday parties, anything I could find. I didn’t make much, but I was alive. I was making it.
One day, a friend of mine brought me along to a gig at the Sig Ep house over at the University of South Carolina. All I had to do, she told me, was jump around on a stage for ten minutes every two hours and maybe do some kicks, nothing too crazy. As it turned out, I made more money that night than I had in my entire life.
After that, fraternity parties became my business: cocktails, beach bashes, jungle nights, you name it. I was there, kicking big blow-up dolls, hopping over stacks of beer cans, the whole nine yards. I only had two rules: No touching, no pictures. Simple enough. The brothers needed entertainment and I needed money to reapply to zoos next year and, as long as the guys kept their hands to themselves, we all got what we wanted.
But then things started to change. One night, over at ECU, a group of brothers decided they wanted to have a competition to see who could shoot a ping ball into my pouch the fastest. It took two hours. Another night, at the Delta Tau Delta house at the University of Richmond, a group of girls made me put on a red jumpsuit and started screaming, “KANGAROO JACK! KANGAROO JACK!”
It was demeaning, and a total misappropriation of an American kangaroo icon.
After that, I decided I was done with fraternity parties for a while. Or at least I thought so. A few days later, I got a call about a huge gig at the Chi Psi fraternity house at the University of North Carolina. They were going to pay me twice what I had made in Richmond and, as a bonus, they said they would throw in some Bahia Grass for me to eat. I got a call from my parents that night, too, just to see how I was doing. I told them I was fine, that the zoo was fine. I hated lying, but I knew I still needed the money. I called Chi Psi back and told them I would do the party.
At this point, it’s worth making something clear: If you’re down on your luck and you feel like you need to hop and kick to make some money, there is nothing wrong with that, but you should never let someone disrespect you. I emailed Chi Psi weeks in advance to tell them my rules: No touching, no pictures. But when I showed up for their “Last Day of Classes Party,” three brothers scooped me up and started passing me from girl to girl, taking my picture with each one. “Look at the little Joey-oey-oey,” they all squeaked. “He’s such a cutie.”
I’m a Jill, a god damn Jill. I’ve never felt so disrespected in my life.
Needless to say, my parents saw the pictures on Facebook—every other profile picture online had me in it. I’m living at home again and my family is still coming to terms with everything one day at a time. I, on the other hand, finally feel like I know what I need to do. The fact that, even in 2014, a kangaroo can’t work at an LDOC party without being harassed is appalling, and I for one will not be a part of it. We need to wake up. This culture we live in, where men and women treat kangaroos like pin-up playthings and pets, has got to change. Next time you go to a fraternity house and you see a Jill, try opening your eyes, rather than trying to open her pouch.