In my days as a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign I ran about four miles every day. My dorm was located on Fifth Street and Daniel, very close to most of the male fraternity houses. I ran on the sidewalk and always passed most of the houses on Saturday and Sunday mornings. From what I could tell, fraternities love recreating the comforts found inside the frat house on the outside of the frat house. On the mornings post-party, I saw chairs, tables, leather couches and entire bedroom suites parked on the front lawn of these houses. And garbage. Ever see those CNN videos of a town post-tornado? That's what the yards/street looked like. Pizza boxes, cans, plastic bags. Usually the brothers were outside making a decent effort to clean up the place, gotta give them that. There must have been some awesome partying at the great U of I. Almost makes me wished I'd pledged.

The greatest display of frat party bone-headedness I ever saw was one morning, like any other morning, I was running past a house where about ten or so guys were outside picking up the remains from last night's shindig. They had what looked to be their living-room couches on the lawn. No ordinary couches mind you, but these awesome blue, corduroy couches.

I wouldn't have paid it a second glance but a couple of them were standing next to the couch and laughing a you-know-they're-up-to-something laugh. One of them pulled out his lighter and set the frayed arm of one of the couches on fire. I just shook my head and kept running.

I doubled back at the end of the street and on the way back I saw the biggest pillar of flame I have ever seen. As I got closer, brothers were scrambling all across the lawn with a water hose trying to bring it to service. A couple more brought cups of water from inside and were trying to douse the couch. But to no avail. I stood there and watched. People from houses across and down the street had noticed and were gathering. The couch, the fabric covering, the foam filling, the wood frame, the whole thing burned to the ground in a twenty foot high tower of fire. It only took like two or three minutes it burned so fast. The only thing left were the blackened metal springs. If it had only been a little closer to the house. hah.