Fenno was in a classroom. At least, it seemed like it could be a classroom. Twenty-somethings wearing Ralph Lauren sat facing the front of the room, where the three-dimensional image of a white-wigged man smoking a pipe was projected by a laser array out of the floor behind the podium. Thelonious Monk was being piped over the P.A. system through Bang & Olufsen speakers while men in tuxedos circled the room with silver trays carrying what appeared to be champagne cocktails in fluted glasses. The chandelier suspended from the domed ceiling refracted light from the holograph machine onto the blond heads of the “students,” who flashed perfect teeth as they exchanged stories of golfing and horseback riding from last weekend. A not-so-apologetic throat-clearing interrupted the polite banter; it was time to begin.
“My dear students of the Harvard Business School, I am truly sorry I cannot be with you in the flesh today,” the professor began. “As you know, the school has introduced a no-smoking policy, and I dare not deliver this particular talk without the benefit of the little weed that so well clears the head for concentrated exercise. Besides, I have been dead for over 200 years. Let us resume our discussion of the salutary effects a moderate degree of inflation presents in connection with arresting the progress of a generally tiresome middle class.” Forty hands shot up at once.
Fenno was confused, not to say unhappy. Here she was at the Business School listening to a lecture by the ghost of Adam Smith. She looked in her purse for her day planner. Maybe she’d scheduled something weird. There next to her wallet was a skee-ball ticket from Jillian’s.
She turned it over: “Congratulations, you’ve been EXCHANGED. And it’s a three-way! An HBS student is at the K-School, and a K-School student is at HLS. Have a good time! — The HL Central HLS-HBS-KSG Exchange Committee.” Well great, she thought. I’ll just chill out here and listen to the dead guy while I live on crudités and brut. But oh no! she realized, suddenly panicked. If I’m the HLS student here, then that might mean….
Back at the Law School, 100 screaming 2Ls were pouring out of the squalid tenement that is Pound Hall, where Rob Jackson had just begun to recite Ronald Coase’s The Problem of Social Cost verbatim to Professor Kraakman. Jackson punctuated each sentence by striking the table and proclaiming a successive digit of pi. Fenno knew she had to get back, and fast. If not, this thing would end up worse than an all-LL.M comparative tax class.
Fenno took off her heels and ran after a city bus stopped at a corner. She boarded and sat down next to a familiar-looking young woman. “Hey,” Fenno said, turning to her, “aren’t you—?”
“Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. Edison, New Jersey. Nice to meet you.” She extended her hand.
“What are you doing out here in Allston this time of day?” Fenno asked.
“Oh, well, thanks to Kaplan, I aced the test and got into Harvard Law.”
“But Harvard Law’s on the other side of the River.”
“I know, but thanks to Kaplan’s advertising money, the MTA lets me ride public transportation for free, so I’m maximizing my mass transit time.” She indicated with a pencil the open pages of an oversized paperback resting in her lap. “Wanna help me ace this logic game?”
Fenno noticed Chris Kolovos sitting across from them. He had apparently overheard their exchange. Narrowing his eyes quizzically, he asked, “Technically, wouldn’t you have needed to get a 180 instead of a 178 to have aced the LSAT?” Alexandria muttered something disagreeable and moved to the back of the bus. Chris narrowed his eyes even more quizzically and followed her.
Fenno debarked at the southern edge of campus and walked briskly up the path behind Hastings. Outside the journals entrance, D. Hara Sherman was explaining the rejection of the Environmental Law Journal to Jill Zimmerman. “It makes perfect sense. Obviously the Journals Committee joins me in assuming the environment is sexist. We can’t have a journal devoted to sexism at Harvard Law.”
Jill nodded slowly in an appeasing display of near-understanding. She replied, “But it was the Entertainment Law Journal that was rejected. The Environmental Law Review has been around since 1976.”
“Exactly,” Hara rejoined. “Nineteen seventy-six. The bicentennial. The beginning of the end of pre-post-feminist feminism. It’s all in the numbers, this enviro-sexist capitalist conspiracy.” She seemed to become a bit flustered. “Have you noticed it’s kind of humid today? I’m going to my locker to get an umbrella. On second thought, an umbrella’s a little too phallic. I think I’ll just go hang out inside my locker and think about art.”
Fenno wanted to stop and learn more, but there wasn’t time. Up at Pound, people had evidently overcome the initial trauma caused by Jackson’s avant-garde math/law fusion jam. By now, everyone was standing around in small groups, each actively engaged in not caring about the World Series. This highly-emotional distraction soon proved too much, and talk turned inevitably and with much relief to the subject of flyout week.
One male student had a theory: “Interviewing as a guy sucks. I heard all a girl needs to do to get a ‘special’ call-back at Quinn is to find the shortest, goofiest associate on the dance floor at the Hong Kong, ask him for a fourth scorpion bowl, and start making out with him until he ‘calls’ her back to his hotel room. Either that or get her head bashed into the ping-pong table at the Inn. I’m not sure which works better. Guess she might as well try both.”
The circle of students voiced their agreement. Donovan Rinker-Morris, however, seemed to disapprove: “I think you are displaying an instinct towards moral simplification. Making out with a Quinn Associate and having one’s face bashed into a ping-pong table at the Inn are classic tactics, ones that Hitler used. I think you are all Hitler, and I don’t intend to resign from anything for pointing that out.”
Meanwhile, Rob Jackson emerged from Pound with Kraakman in a cold sweat looking white as a sheet. A sort of sweaty sheet. Fenno quietly snatched Rob’s skee-ball ticket out of his hand. Students began frantically dialing cabs for him. “No, my people, all is well,” Rob responded to this manifest solicitude for his safe travel back to the K-School. “I will take advantage of the Law Review car service. Farewell. I hope that when we meet again, you will all be much, much smarter than you are right now.” He threw back his head and set off proudly towards Gannett House.
Fenno waited a moment and followed him, just to be sure. Finally satisfied at seeing him duck into a black Town Car, she turned left and entered the basement of Austin. She hadn’t had a chance to check her email in a few days, so she stopped in front of the iMacs. Her OpenMail contained the following messages:
Re: [MARSHAL] Class of 2003
Thanks Rachel. I will send out an e-mail about Fogg soon.
Re: [MARSHAL] Class of 2003
in the email about the fogg, we need to make sure people know it’s right here at harvard, not in boston, in addition to
telling them about the ticket sales…
That oughtta hold the little bastards.
Re: [MARSHAL] Sorry!
We are aware that we accidentally sent part of our conversation to the whole mailing list – we’re very sorry, and thanks for letting us know. Stay tuned for details about the Halloween party…
The little bastards oughtta really love that.
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: [MARSHAL] Sorry!
Perhaps I can be of service….