Traditionally, Homecoming is associated with a rival football game, some brightly decorated floats and a decked-out court of kings and queens. Alumni plan vacations around the game and festivities to return to their alma mater for a revival of the old college pride.
Pepperdine is not a traditional school. We have no football team — no grand parade with the Homecoming court riding around in open convertibles followed by tissue-paper floats (no offense to the well-intentioned Mardi Carts). We don’t even have a rush of alumni who unearth those orange-and-blue outfits for a single remember-the-glory-days weekend.
But boy do we have spirit. Even if it only shows up for one week during the quest for the spirit cup — we’ve got it.
No other school could motivate freshmen through seniors to spend a Friday night baking and frosting a giant cake structure. But that’s what I did for my weekend activity. I joined a handful of Sigma Chis and Delta Gamma sisters for a truly unique-to-Pepperdine experience.
We all shoved spoons, spatulas, knives — even hands — into an unusually large tub of Crisco and sugar to frost a giant cardboard structure. There is nothing like smoothing out inedible frosting on a four-foot cardboard mold to get you in the mood for school spirit.
We couldn’t even lick the multicolored substance from the crevices of our hands and arms and elbows without cringing from the taste. But boy was it fun.
The camera bulb was flashing, everyone was laughing and no one had a definitive clue about what we were creating. But at the end of the evening we had created something together. Something that we were proud of. Something that defined Pepperdine to us.
Somehow, spending a week cheering at a bake-off, staying up super late learning choreography for a striving-to-be-original lip sync, or running up and down the myriad of stairs across the hilly campus to find obscure facts for the scavenger hunt validates my presence as a Wave.
I can’t say that I have always loved this school. Sometimes teachers praying in class got to me. Or the lack of controversy and Berkeleyesque protests made me feel like I was missing out. Even the fact that my friends and I didn’t sit around debating philosophical concepts at some all-night coffee shop like we did in high school left me lacking something.
But what I lost in academia, I made up for in family. In sorority sisters who will show up on Saturday morning to cheer for you as you roll around in the mud in the name of a good cause, or fraternity members who will play domestic for a weekend and bake dozens of cakes. But better yet in the stranger who will smile and ask “how are you” just because you both bear the name of Waves.
I might not travel back for the Homecoming basketball game in years to come. And I might not donate a tithe of my salary to the senior challenge. But when I make blue frosting for my kid’s birthday cake or hear “Stronger” on some pop station, I’ll remember that good-ole Pepperdine pride.
February 07, 2002