Fenno: Up in smoke


Fenno took a deep breath. As the rising sun stabbed his eyes, Fenno noticed that the air tasted wrong. Something had changed. Fenno crawled out of the bushes in front of Hastings and furrowed his brow.

A night in the nippy September air had stricken Fenno with a runny nose. He wiped it on his flannel sleeve and immediately noticed the relatively fresh scent of his rumpled shirt. Fenno remembered what the difference was: Cambridge was smoke-free.

Fenno shook out the last Camel and did his duty to the counter-revolution. In truth, Fenno’s heart was of two minds on the matter. Fenno appreciated that the new regulation would substantially reduce the laundry time of a committed barfly like himself. On top of that, his lungs could use the break. But on the other hand, what the hell kind of totalitarian regime would deprive so many people of their right to choose? Commie-Nazis were running the city and McBain was off on the wrong coast playing politician.

Fenno tossed the butt, scraped his teeth with his thumbnail and tried to pat his hair down into a roughly respectable shape. It being Wednesday morning, Fenno had no classes to worry about for the rest of the week, but he probably ought to get to a shower before the 1L talent got a whiff. A night in the bushes did not do wonders for a man’s odor even if the bar had not been smoky the night before.

Fenno meandered up Massachusetts Avenue, weaving through the throngs of besuited 2Ls headed to the Charles to sell their souls. Fenno amusedly noted that among their numbers were the most outspoken radicals of the Class of ’05, proud socialists who sneered at those silly twits who believed in private property. After the shock of a sudden change in Cambridge bar life, the constancy of HLS hypocrisy steadied Fenno’s nerves.

Fenno stopped in front of the Methodist Church. “Youth on Fire” had always struck him as an odd name for their program for troubled youngsters, but then he remembered the old saying: “Give a man a fire and he’s warm for a day; light a man on fire he’s warm for the rest of his life.” Fenno examined the fresh new church sign and then saw his old friend Anjan approaching.

“Hey Fenno, your column could use some dialogue,” said Anjan.

“Greetings, oh mighty Class Marshall.” Fenno abased himself before his better.

Anjan grinned. “Do you have your clerkship yet?”

“Ummm . . . am I supposed to?” asked Fenno. Clerkships were a sore subject for Fenno. The interminable application process had driven him to drink, which in turn had led him to sleep in the bushes.

“Silly Fenno, you can’t fool me. Who did you get? Wilkinson? Calabresi? Reinhardt? It’d be great if you were out on the 9th with me.”

Fenno sighed. He had lost the clerkship game, and he knew it.

“I have an interview with the Supreme Court of Palau, but their airport won’t be finished until January. I also interviewed with a bankruptcy judge in North Dakota who told me he’d get back to me, but when I called to check on it his phone had been disconnected.”

“Oh well, Fenno – better luck next year. Hey, it was great seeing you, but I have to get back to the salt mines.”

Anjan headed toward Gannett House. Fenno watched him head into the bastion of diversity and saw Greg Lipper jumping up and down excitedly pointing at the “No Girls Allowed” graffiti he had sprayed onto the side of the house. “I get to be in The Record again! I get to be in The Record again!” crowed Lipper as he danced awkwardly.

Fenno was glad that the plight of women was being taken seriously – Fenno proudly noted that in the newly-radicalized Record it was he who fired the first shot at Gannett. But the last time Fenno had seen Lipper, the less-than-best oralist had been wearing bunny ears and debasing himself in a failed attempt to get into Amanda’s pants (she has pictures and she’d be happy to show you – not of her pants, but of Lipper at the party), and Fenno had hoped he would not have to see the misshapen hack again.

A flier on the wall of Hastings drew Fenno’s attention. Apparently the Women’s Law Journal would acquaint him with ladies of questionable virtue in return for a few hours of his time. Fenno waited by the door to the Hastings basement until an unsuspecting 1L opened it for him, then headed straight for the WLJ office.

“I want to have sex. I’m willing to subcite,” said Fenno.

Anne Robinson stared at Fenno blankly. Erica giggled.

“We already have men, Fenno, and frankly they’re better than you,” said Anne.

“Come on, none of them could hold Rick Coe’s jockstrap,” replied Fenno, a bit disappointed that nookie was not forthcoming.

“None of them would want to hold Rick Coe’s jockstrap,” Anne retorted.

Fenno shrugged and walked away. Disappointed by the WLJ’s false advertising and frustrated by his lack of a clerkship and a good night’s sleep, Fenno decided he needed a drink. He headed to Cambridge Common. There he could ogle Rachel and drink in peace.

“PBR please,” Fenno said. He turned to the man next to him. “Can I bum a smoke?”

“I’m sorry, you can’t do that anymore,” interrupted the bartender.

Fenno looked up at the bartender with the dead eyes of a damned man.

“Just gimme the damn beer.”

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