And why are you are interested in our firm, Fenno?”
Fenno paused. What the hell firm was this, again? Let’s see… Tuesday, Charles Hotel… shit. Fenno was totally drawing a blank. It was the third week of OCI, and by this point, Fenno had raked in enough callbacks to be flown to London, San Francisco, and Miami for jobs he had no interest in, and still kiss enough ass to get the Skadden job he was angling for.
But back to the matter at hand. Fenno didn’t want to totally embarrass himself in front of the pleasant lady from…wherever it was. There were still ten minutes left in the interview, after all. And no lawyer wants to be reminded that an applicant doesn’t give a flying fudgesicle about her firm. It was time to pull out the big guns, Fenno thought. He knew his next lines by heart.
“I especially appreciate the camaraderie on which your lawyers pride themselves. They take their work very seriously, as do I, but they also understand that successful client representation is a team effort, from the staff up to the managing partner. At the end of the day, it’s the people that make the biggest difference, and that’s what is most important to me as well.”
Fenno sat back and watched the interviewer’s face transform from furrowed brow to welcoming gleam. Bingo. Operation Horse Manure had succeeded once again. Full of self-satisfaction, Fenno continued, “And that’s why I want to work at–”
Uh-oh. Trapped. Think, man, think. Arnold & Porter? Debevoise & Plimpton? Baker… yes! Baker something. Baker Botts? Baker & McKenzie? Baker & Fisher? How many goddamn Bakers could there be in the legal market? Fenno decided it was now or never.
“–work at… Baker… Botts.”
Fenno looked up for some sort of confirmation. The interviewer stared at him oddly. A beat. Then another beat. And finally… a beaming smile. “Wonderful!” she gushed. “That’s just what we’re looking for as well.”
Fenno shifted his body on the couch, subtly drying the sweat off his hands. His mind still on his big save, the rest of the interview was a blur to him. He vaguely made out a few words and phrases coming across the interviewer’s lips: “lifestyle firm,” “great for families,” and “2400 hours minimum.” But time was soon up, and Fenno, relieved, said his goodbyes and beat a hasty retreat down the elevator, out the revolving door, and back to campus.
Passing through the Square, Fenno took in the sights and sounds around him. Some were welcome: the Spare Change guy provided a bit of a reality check after Fenno’s lap of luxury in the firms’ hospitality suites; moreover, it made him feel better for pilfering a few bags of cheese popcorn and some Diet Cokes before leaving the hotel. Some were not as welcome: the ear-splitting noise emanating from that weird guy out in front of the Coop, bowing his single string, reminded Fenno of Professor Ferrell trying to write on the blackboard during Sec Reg. And some were just getting old: the super-happy, super-enthusiastic Kerry/Edwards volunteers, clogging the sidewalk with their clipboards and voter registration forms.
“Hi! Do you want to help elect John Kerry?” one volunteer spoke-sang, stepping in front of Fenno’s path.
Engaged voter though he was, Fenno, fresh from a harrowing interview experience, wasn’t in the mood. He grunted, lowered his head, and kept walking forward, brushing the volunteer aside with more than just a little force.
“Okay, well, make sure you go out and vote on November second!” the eager beaver chortled.
That’s how you do it, thought Fenno. Show no mercy, keep walking forward, and you can navigate these crazy streets of Cambridge without offending any–
Fenno groggily opened his eyes. Everything was dark, save for some wan light radiating from a few far-off candles.
“Ah. I see you are now awake,” said a sinister voice. His eyes adjusting to the shadows, Fenno looked up, only to find himself staring at a gaggle of faces. He peered at the center face. It was Billy Rahm. As in practically every class he attended, Rahm spoke.
“We saw how you treated that volunteer. You practically shoulder-checked him into the subway entrance. Explain yourself.”
Fenno blinked. “What the hell is this? What are you doing?”
Rahm continued, “We’re Just Democracy. We ensure fair practices at the polls on election day, to make certain that everyone’s vote is counted properly. I’m the president.”
“Harvard chapter president, you mean.”
Rahm slapped Fenno. “Damn you, Fenno! I’ve founded twelve organizations, sit on seven boards of trustees of other groups, serve in a non-elected advisory capacity to four adjunct nonprofits, and tutor amputee mutes on the side. Just because I didn’t think of this idea first doesn’t mean squat.”
At his side, Cassie Marlantes looked up adoringly. “I just love a man who… founds things,” she purred.
Rahm continued, “And I won’t have you screwing up our mission by plowing through Democratic voter registration volunteers in the square.”
“What do you care?” asked Fenno. “I thought you were non-partisan.”
“Yes, that’s right,” he chuckled, “non-partisan.” He laughed louder, joined in by the chorus surrounding him. It soon became a deafening roar. Fenno scrambled backward, clawing at the cold floor beneath him. He had visions of worse things to come at the hands of the Just Democracy army: being seduced by the beautiful and demure Becca O’Brien, forced into construction labor by the rugged Micah May, or subjected to good cop-bad cop torture tactics by tag-team twins Eve and Leah Pogoriler. He wanted none of it.
“Fine! Whatever you want!” shouted Fenno. “Just let me go.”
“Go out and spread the word!” Rahm growled. “Fair and equitable polling procedures for all! And we’re non-partisan!” He shoved Fenno through a previously unseen hole in the wall. Fenno found himself sliding down a cold chute, the chants of the assembled figures echoing around him as he rushed through darkness: “non-partisaaaaaaan!”
Fenno found himself out in front of the subway entrance, crumpled and confused. He picked himself up and dusted himself off. Nearby, he spied the same Kerry/Edwards volunteer whom he had previously encountered. Their eyes met. Each squinted, cognizant of the faceoff at hand. But this time, Fenno raised his arm and gave a quick wave, his abject fear masked by faux cheerfulness. The young pup exuberantly waved back and returned to pestering passersby. Surreptiously breathing a sigh of relief, Fenno turned and resumed his walk back to campus.
As Fenno walked through the Common, he heard a low buzzing noise. A shadow appeared over his shoulder, and the buzzing got louder. Fenno looked up. It was David Abrams, flying his vintage Ercoupe plane perilously close to the ground. So close, in fact, that Fenno could hear what Abrams was shouting to him.
“Hey Fenno! You might have thought that writing a longer column this week would make up for your lack of a column two weeks ago! Nice try, but I don’t think so! I’m off to drop DDT on your apartment! Ha ha ha ha!!!” And with that, he sped off.
Fenno sighed. DDT and Just Democracy, all in one day. He didn’t know which was worse.