Does this sorority life exposé Dirty Rush take things too far?
Taylor Bell's Dirty Rush comes with a caveat about sorority life: From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it. She may be onto something.
In her book released last week, Bell has turned her true-life rushing experience at Central Delaware University into a fictional novel in which the lead character (Taylor) must choose to fulfill her family's legacy of pledging Beta Zeta or stick with being independent.
Taylor is attacked at her first party by BZ sisters, to whom she is a celebrity. They introduce her to the Greek life and don't give her much of a choice in the pledging department. Taylor is basically "one of them" from the get-go, no matter how much she might shy away from the attention.
Soon, she's just one of the girls, but Beta Zeta hides secrets even Taylor can't believe, which leads to the catty drama that surrounds most alcohol-induced 18-year-old female friendships.
I attended Ohio University, normally ranked among the top 20 party schools in the country. I was basically drunk for four years, and I still hold the record for most make-outs in one night (seven; thank you). In other words, I was That Party Girl who Jell-O wrestled and easily earned the most beads every Mardi Gras.
But here are my caveats. One: I never joined a sorority. Two: I'm now "old" at 32. Add these items together and they may explain why Bell's book was hard to swallow, sort of like a shot of 151.
Although there were certainly moments of humor (one involving anal beads), the dialogue and behavior of the characters in Dirty Rush made the book hard to fathom. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far. And I asked around. I emailed all my Greek girlfriends and read them excerpts, and even they were disturbed.
If you can make it through the unrealistic dialogue, you might get into the true "conflict" of the novel, which is pretty good. We all like seeing evil bitches get punished, but you have to first wade through immature parties and annoying characters. But again, maybe I'm just too dang old to get it.
Oh, something else to consider: Taylor Bell doesn't actually exist. Although she has a full bio on the book, she's really just a made-up person created by Tanner and David Oliver Cohen of the Twitter account White Girl Problems. Surprise!
Anyway, I shudder to think who Tanner and David's audience actually is. It can't be adults, and if it's high school girls, I don't want them going to college expecting that the behavior portrayed in Dirty Rush is the acceptable norm. I don't want high school girls thinking sex with lots of "cool guys" makes them cool or that all the hot chicks pop fistfuls of Adderall.
College is about friendship and connection and — oh! Remember? Education! Maybe Dirty Rush is written for the college crowd? In that case, I guess it'll get some laughs and occasional nods of understanding.
I do understand that Dirty Rush is a love letter to Greek life and the great friends Taylor made as a member of Beta Zeta. I'm glad her character found her place at college and a supportive circle of friends.
But Taylor might be right when she says non-Greeks just can't understand. I can't imagine going through all the bullshit she went through to be part of a select group. So, I guess Dirty Rush's audience is members of Greek life, and hey, as is written, "College is insane."