Fenno

BY

“Goddamned chastity belt!” Fenno gnashed his teeth and yanked at the metal lock again, tears of effort streaming down his cheeks.

“Do you have a screwdriver?” he yelled. The girl pointed to a stack of storage boxes under the bay window of her Hastings room. Fenno lunged across the room, tripping over his boxers, which were pushed down around his ankles, and fished through the box. He grabbed a Phillips head and dove at the woman, who lay naked on the bed.

Fenno stabbed the screwdriver at her crotch. She flinched as he pried at the thick lock around her waist. The plastic-wrapped mattress creaked under his knees. The chastity belt was custom-fitted from thick, industrial-strength steel, the kind only her husband could afford: he had graduated last year, and was in his first year at Wachtell drafting business contracts. He didn’t trust anyone.

Fenno was getting nowhere, and from the shrinking feeling below his waist, he knew more effort was useless. He had only tried so hard because her husband had won the executive editor election over Fenno at JOL, and Fenno relished the thought of psychosexual revenge. But the Kong buzz had been sweated away, and the metal had outlasted Fenno’s virility. He threw the screwdriver across the room. “Screw it,” he said. “Call me when you get a copy of that key made.”

She watched Fenno pull on his clothes and leave the room. “Sorry Fenno!” she yelled after him. “If you weren’t such an incompetent loser, you could’ve gotten through! You couldn’t even rig the JOL election competently!” She clunked metallically into her desk chair, slid her diamond ring back on, and began to write a love letter to her husband.

Man, did women suck! Fenno’s love life was a travesty: he had already combed through the 12,435 women in his Friendster ‘personal’ network, most of whom didn’t even have proper grammar. The law school chicks had been a disaster: anywhere from chastity belts to just plain horrible in bed. Fenno was sick of wasting money on alcohol to have unsuccessful rum-addled vanilla sex. Fenno just wanted a… wife. And stat: he only had one semester left. Not sex, not love: just a cohort in power, someone to tackle the legal world with, tandem. He mentally decided that he would propose to the next suitable female he saw. (Did loans figure into the two months’ salary for a ring?) Amanda Goad walked out of the Hark onto the patio. Bingo.

“Amanda, wait….” She turned around and looked impatiently at him. “I was thinking. I’m a loser, and since lesbians can’t get married anyway: want to go to Vegas this weekend? I’ll pay.”

“Are you drunk, Fen…wait, stupid question. You know, with how much you skip class, I would think you still check the news occasionally. All I have to do is wait six months, and then I can get married in Massachusetts.” She noticed Fenno’s slack jaw, and added, “yep, gay marriage. Not civil union, baby: marriage. Unfortunately, they haven’t passed any legislation to keep you from being a loser.” She turned and walked across the patio.

Fenno’s head swam like crazy, and he swooned into a wooden bench. He spit into the shrubbery, and turned his head to see Duncan Kennedy sitting next to him, smoking a joint.

“Professor.” Fenno had gone to two or three torts classes his 1L year, and Kennedy had since developed a preternatural ability to act convincingly like he recognized Fenno. The Dunc nodded coolly, and took another drag off his hand-rolled cigarette. Fenno gulped, and asked: “Is it true about gay marriage in Mass?”

Dunc smiled, nodded again, and said: “I know what you’re thinking – oh, crap. In six months, the female pool will be even smaller, right? No chance at bagging a repressed frigid lesbian looking to secure her parents’ blessings, huh?”

Fenno nodded, wide-eyed: who was this guy? “Why are you getting married – love?” Kennedy asked.

“No.”

“I didn’t think so – not sex, right? You don’t get any of that, right?”

“Er… right. Yeah, I just don’t want to worry about it, you know? I need stability.”

“But, let me see, you’re a law student: working for a firm, no?” Fenno said yes, and Dunc continued: “so you need a power partner.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Well, Fenno…the law doesn’t just apply to lesbians. Dunc lifted a brow. Fenno began to understand. “And now, the law says we can all get married. Lots of powerful, lonely guys around here. You know, might makes right.”

Fenno jumped up, pumping Kennedy’s hand. “I know, I’ll ask the next important man I see. I’ll never be alone again. Thank you, professor!” Fenno ran off toward Gannett House.

Kennedy chuckled into his fist, and wondered who the kid was. They were such easy targets: he’d have half the male population married to each other by 2005. He took another drag.

Fenno burst into Gannett House, and ran smack into Jared Kramer. Fenno fell onto the floor and rolled back onto his knees. He stared lovingly up at Jared and asked, “Why are you here at midnight on a Saturday?”

“Working.” Fenno’s heart fluttered. “Why are you here? Alcohol is still available for two more hours.”

Fenno had never heard so many words from Jared, and was surprised at the rich sing-song voice. The voice of power. “You went to Princeton, right?”

“First in my class.” Fenno dropped one knee.

“And Sears prize?” This is what love felt like.

“Both years, of course.” Fenno reached out his hands, and took Kramer’s wrist. “What the hell are you doing, Fenno?”

Fenno proposed: “Jared, I’m not gay, and I want you to marry me. Look, marriage – it’s about the law, not love anymore. Let’s make a statement, a true power couple. You can have 180 days to think about it.”

Jared looked down his nose at rumpled, drunken Fenno on Gannett’s floor. “You fool. You think it’s news to us? Anjan and I stayed up for three weeks working on the legislation; now we have the world in our hands. Our wedding is in June. Anjan lost the bet: he’ll be taking my name – I don’t like Jared Choudhury anyway – and our girlfriends will be the best men. Let the new rule of law begin!” He kicked Fenno out and stomped back to work.

Fenno sat on the stump and buried his head in his hands. Duncan Kennedy walked by and nodded sagely, wondering if one of his law review protégés had spurned this drunk kid. Kennedy smiled smugly: his plan was flawless. Kennedy would use the egos of the law review kids against them to accomplish his goals.

Kennedy lit another joint, and mused over his next policy project, which would involve getting the law reviewers to convince themselves their workload was illegally stressful. The Dunc exhaled happily: the Law Review will be the best argument in existence for medical marijuana.

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