Chapter Visit: Barbecue, Basketball and Brotherhood at Ole Miss

Blog-Byline-DeanMississippi: where there are more Elvis Presley fanatics per capita than in any other state. And one could also add that they’re unmistakably more fanatical here too, but I’ll get into that later.

My visit to Ole Miss BYX could not have started any better (except that I had to drive through Dallas to get to the airport). I flew into Memphis and was immediately met by a few officers. They took me straight to Memphis BBQ Company. I guess when I talk about food all the time in my blogs, my guys know what to do when they hear I’m coming. I wanted to try a few kinds of meat, so I ordered a combo plate, which came with ribs. The waiter asked whether I wanted them wet or dry, and what he said next was beautiful: “In competition, we serve them wet.” If you’re winning competitions with the stuff, that makes my decision pretty easy, sir. Thank you.

After a spectacular dining experience, we drove back to Oxford, passing many picnicking groups (including a few dogs just chilling alone) along the road. Southern Tennessee and Mississippi have prime picnicking real estate right next to the interstates apparently.

We arrived at chapter meeting, and I was greeted by the rest of the Ole Miss brothers. I gave an exhortation to the chapter, and their bid ceremony followed, officially welcoming five new men into pledgeship. I had the pleasure of meeting these brothers, and I expect them to bring great energy and creativity to the chapter.

Now this chapter has one peculiar ritual. On nights of celebration such as this one, they all go to Applebee’s. If you’ve never had Applebee’s, I envy your innocence. It’s basically all the food Chinese buffets, Taco Bell and McDonald’s reject, reheated in a microwave. Thankfully, I was surrounded by a good number of brothers to share the unnecessary calories.

I enjoyed catching up with the guys I knew and getting to know the guys I didn’t. When a certain old pop song came on in the restaurant, they introduced me to the “BYXstreet Boys,” in whom I was deeply disappointed and at whom I laughed hysterically. These guys are a riot to be around, to say the least.

SAMSUNGThe next morning began a marathon of officer one-on-ones, a familiar event on my visits. I talked with President Ken Warren about how to improve on the chapter’s weaknesses and maintain their strengths. If there’s anything this chapter is good at, it’s leadership and organization. Ken has taken the status quo for Ole Miss officer teams and demolished it. His mind is torn in many directions as president, but he remains focused and organized in leading his men in the pursuit of excellence. The officer corps as a whole has implemented a system of planning and execution that will surely take them to the next level of success. Organization is key in running any organization, and these guys get it.

Chaplain Kyle Otte updated me on the improving state of cell groups, much to my delight. Pledge Captain Nathan Adler walked me through his plan for this semester’s pledgeship, and these pledges are in for a great ride. I discussed methods of improving communication among the chapter with Secretary Will Alexander, and I got a stellar budget report from Treasurer Nick Wofford.

Vice President Reid Hale concluded my workday with a discussion of social affairs at Ole Miss. This chapter is making progress toward some serious impact on this campus socially. Relationships with the Greeks and the campus community are growing, and this officer team is poised to make the most of it.

Between meetings I was able to try some true Oxford originals. At Ajax Diner at The Square was the first time I genuinely enjoyed a “home cookin’” restaurant. Normally, these “down home” joints take any other genre of food and make it extremely bland. The climax of the night was “Dean’s Party,” affectionately named for a particularly esteemed guest, from what I understand. It was held in a building that was previously a Walmart, so there was clearly ample space for activities. There was Spikeball, water pong, video games and fellowship. In short, there were not enough hours in the night to enjoy all these brothers’ company.

The next night was what really sent this visit over the top. I got to attend an Ole Miss basketball game against Kentucky, which they decided not to compete in until the final three minutes. It was great, except the Rebs didn’t want to rebound…or score. Thankfully, I didn’t have any emotional investment in the game; I offered the consolation, though, that my boys from old Florida crushed Kentucky when they played them. Hey, I dog on the football team enough, I deserved that one.

Graceland TooWhat followed the game was one of those experiences that you are never able to un-experience. Remember all the Elvis fans in Mississippi? Well, there’s a certain resident of the state who lives in a house which he has dubbed Graceland Too, after Elvis’ mansion Graceland.

Yo! Paul Macleod is a 106-year-old man (I don’t think that’s an exaggeration) who lives in Holly Springs, Mississippi. You can knock on his door at any time, day or night, and he will open up and give you a tour of his paraphernalia-laden home for a small fee. And the BYX guys apparently frequent the place.

Friends, there was not one inch of his walls or ceilings that was not covered with Elvis paraphernalia, nor was there very much that came out of his mouth that made sense (nor was it very clean.) He loved The King, and he spent from 2:00 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. telling us about it. There aren’t enough words in all of Texas to write about that experience, so if you want to see for yourself how weird a person can possibly be, visit Graceland Too.

It was finally time to depart, but not before enjoying some more Memphis BBQ at the Germantown Commissary, another unbelievable joint you should visit, with my boy Jonathan Rogers on the way back to the airport. Their homemade banana pudding was good, nay outstanding. This has certainly been one of my more eventful visits so far, and I pray these men remain committed to their new-found standard of excellence.

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