Ah, the infamous fraternity formal cooler. The project that college girls– sorority members and non sorority members– spend hours upon hours making come springtime. What is this cooler, you ask? I had no idea what it was either so I asked my mother who, once upon a time, belonged to a sorority. I figured she’d know a little more about the traditions of Greek life than I would. She didn’t. Apparently this time consuming tradition has only become popular within the last twenty years. I guess somewhere some crafty sorority girl decided that she was going to paint a cooler (yes, the thing you use to keep food and drinks cold) with cute, complicated designs. After that, it has become tradition for the girl to paint a cooler for she and her date to use for the weekend of formal.
When I got invited to a fraternity formal, I had no idea about this project. One of my friends who also got invited asked me if we needed to make a cooler, which led to a lot of questions on my end and the decision to ultimately ask our dates. We were told that it’s “not required, but encouraged”. Not wanting to stand out as one of the only non-sorority girls, I knew I had to take on this project. Fourteen hours later, I decided to share with everyone the reality of that decision. So here is every single thing that ran through my mind while making my cooler.
Okay, where do I start? What kind of cooler do I get? How big?
Wait– is this going to cost money? I’m too poor for this.
Why do all these coolers have weird designs on them? How am I supposed to paint over this?
Oh, spackling paste. That’s a cool concept.
My dad has some of that at home. Perfect.
Dad, can you bring me all the acrylic paints we have at home, all the brushes, sandpaper, spackling paste and a tool to apply it? Don’t ask.
Okay, if I just put spackling paste over this whole thing that’ll make it smooth, right?
Wrong. It makes it weirdly textured.
But I have sandpaper! Perfect.
Well that was messier than I thought. I hope someone vacuums the carpet in our hall on a regular basis.
Okay, time to brainstorm ideas. To Pinterest!
Whoa, I am definitely not as artistic as these ladies.
How long did this take them to make these?
Seriously, do you not have class or homework or other responsibilities?
Okay, I found something that looks manageable.
Looks like the paint doesn’t go on as well as I expected. Maybe I’ll try just painting everything white to start off.
(At this point, someone told me about a thing called primer.) Nah, that’s just extra money. I don’t need it.
What have I gotten myself into?
(Over My Head by The Fray plays in the background)
Oh, it’s 1 am? Shoot. I have class in the morning.
I want to cry.
This looks worse than originally expected.
I hope everyone’s looks this bad.
But at least I have a side done. 4 more to go!
This sucks. When will it be over?
Oh right, when I finally finish the cute-yet-clever design that someone did 10x better two years ago on Pinterest.
I really should have just painted the sides one solid color and called it a day.
Update: still want to cry.
Do frat boys really understand how much work this is?
But things are looking up. I have two sides down.
Painting is actually pretty calming if you just turn on some good tunes and get in the zone.
After a five day brainstorming break, I’ve decided what I want to do for the remaining two sides.
Yaaaaaas home stretch here we go.
I think I can see my tears mixed in with this paint.
Oh my goodness. I’m done! I’m really done! This is a miracle.
Time to spray it with some finishing paint and everything should be great.
Now my 14×14 foot dorm reeks of paint. Nice. (Note: I was smart enough to spray the paint outside, don’t worry.)
(This is the day where I actually transported the cooler to its intended destination)
I should have used primer.
If I’ve taken anything away from this experience, it’s that paint chips easily. And also that traditions are sometimes really dumb. I hope my date appreciates my FOURTEEN hours of blood, sweat, and tears I put into this thing, because I will never be doing it again. Incase you were wondering what my final masterpiece looked like…