Fenno

BY

Fenno was pissed.

Flyout week was over. Fenno had pulled every trick in the book to snooker his callback firms into fronting what was essentially a ten-day vacation – an orgy of room service, fitness centers, and in-room movies, topped off by a single, wondrous night of passion in Washington with an impressionable young lady who had a weakness for free hotel soap. Sure, there were callbacks to attend, but Fenno knew the drill: once you had a callback, you had to fuck up pretty badly not to get an offer, or so he’d been told. And except for that one incident at Akin Gump – and really, who wouldn’t get a little freaked out shaking their first prosthetic hand, even if it’s attached to the hiring partner? – he was in the clear.

Recruiting season was also pretty much over, which gave Fenno pause. As tiresome as it was to throw on a suit each day, as puerile as it was to answer the same questions over and over again, and as frustrating as it was to get a callback from Hotshot & Badass but get dinged by Noname & Whocares, Fenno actually kind of enjoyed the whole process. He would miss the constant interaction with his fellow classmates at the Charles, the camaraderie forged by daily updates of the latest callbacks and rejections, and, above all, the chocolate-covered pretzels, Fenno’s daily intake of which had escalated to six by the third week of OCI. Now, with the end of interviews having arrived, Fenno wistfully looked back on the month of October. All that lay ahead were the November doldrums: four straight weeks of skies growing grayer, winds growing colder, and days growing shorter. And that was only a precursor to three long months of winter. Blech.

To top it all off, daylight savings time had ended the previous Sunday. Which meant Fenno now found himself walking to Professor Fried’s afternoon con law class with the sun already setting. As in, going to class in the dark. And not even like in high school, where it would get lighter as the class progressed. It would just get darker. How discouraging. And they were probably still discussing the damn dormant commerce clause in class. For the fourth straight week. How doubly discouraging.

As usual, Fenno arrived late to Fried’s class. Professor Fried was already well into his presentation for the day. Curiously, though, it seemed to consist entirely of expletives.

“Shit, batshit, dogshit, and horseshit,” Fried declaimed. “Motherfucker, cocksucker, ass-clown shit-for-brains.”

Fenno didn’t quite know what to make of this. He vowed never to miss the first few minutes of class again. Befuddled, he spied Jesse Panuccio nearby.

“Hey, Jesse! How’d flyout week go for you?” Responded Panuccio, “Pretty good, Fenno. I got offers from every place I talked to. Take note, however, that this doesn’t affect my utter hatred of law school and all things legal.”

Duly noted, thought Fenno. A few rows down, James Sullivan had once again raised his hand to probe Fried’s mind.

“Professor Fried, when you say ‘damned double-dildo monkeyfucker,’ are you referring strictly to monkeys, or can we take that to mean all members of the ape family?” Sullivan’s sweet southern accent was all that prevented Fenno from chucking his casebook at him.

“Because I would make a third argument,” Sullivan continued, “that it extends even more broadly to all primates.”

Fenno had no choice but to launch his book. Twelve pounds of Gunther & Sullivan walloped the gregarious gunner upside the head. “Dang!” Sullivan exclaimed, a wide smile remaining on his face.

At the front of the room, Fried continued his stream of profanity: “Dickwad, fuckface, shithead…”

Fenno had to figure out what was going on. Off to the side, Liz Arora focused rapt attention on Fried’s every obscenity, her gaze fixed on him in profound veneration. Gushed Arora, “Fried is a god. A golden god. I would bury myself in a pit of human waste just to tread upon the same ground that he walks. I would lick his boots until gaping holes burned painfully through my tongue just to hear him speak. I would–”

Arora was shouted down by several hardcore Fed Society types nearby, including Charles Molluzzo and Ken Reinker. “Heretic!” they cried. Soraya Freed tossed a stylish pencil case at her. It wasn’t easy being the only Fed Society member on Legal Aid. Or the only Fed Society member on CR-CL. Or the only CR-CL member in the Fed Society, for that matter. But it didn’t faze Arora.

“I want to have his children. I want to drink his bathwater. I want to–”

At the podium, Fried was still going: “trick-ass playa hata, bitch-ass pigfucker, ball-sucking assmunch. And this concludes this my list of twenty-seven things never to say to a policeman when arrested. Tomorrow, nineteen names not to call the judge during your criminal trial. Now, let’s once again reacquaint ourselves with the dormant commerce clause.”

That was it. Fenno had to get out of there. He exited the side door of Langdell North and made his way into Pound. Lying on one of the seats in the hallway was a copy of the undergrad Harvard Crimson. Fenno thumbed through the pages. In the editorial section, he came across something rather unexpected: a letter submitted to the Crimson defending Professor Tribe against charges of plagiarism, co-written by seven current and former HLS students. Fenno read the letter thoughtfully. It generally noted how well-regarded Professor Tribe was by alumni and practitioners, and in how much esteem his scholarship was generally held. Fenno re-read it again, to ensure he hadn’t missed any of its finer, more nuanced points. Reflecting prudently, he then reached his own carefully wrought conclusion about the letter: what a pile of crap. As if it’s somehow okay to copy passages verbatim if everyone agrees you’re a swell person in general. Fenno was a super guy, too – especially according to the girl in Washington – but he had a feeling he wouldn’t get away with lifting quotes wholesale. If so, he was really looking forward to exam period for once.

While reading the letter in the Pound hallway, Fenno passed by the wall of professors’ portraits. Curiously, he noticed that Professor Tribe’s frame was missing. That’s odd, thought Fenno. Where did it go? He continued walking down the hall. As he passed by a dimly lit Pound 102, he heard strange noises. A sucking sound, or slurping, or something like that. Peering through the door window, Fenno made out the figures of two of the co-authors of the Crimson letter, Michael Fertik and Dan Richenthal. Fertik was holding something up close to his face. It appeared to be the missing Tribe portrait.

“Mmmm… yeah. Just like that. That’s how I’d do it.” Fertik mused dreamily.

Richenthal grabbed the portrait from him. “No way,” he responded. “If I got the chance, I’d do it like this.” With that, he moved his face toward the frame and planted his lips softly on the glass. “Yeah… that’s nice.” His mouth roved the portrait glass sensually. “Mmmm. Good stuff,” Richenthal murmured delicately. Fenno thought he glimpsed a little tongue.

Fenno just couldn’t let this opportunity go to waste. He swung open the door and called out to the two 3Ls. “Hey fellas! What’s up?”

Fertik and Richenthal turned toward Fenno, horrified. Richenthal dropped the portrait, which crashed to the ground. Fenno hadn’t seen Richenthal in quite a while; he wondered what he’d been up to. It certainly wasn’t charm school.

“Er, uh, hey Fenno! Um, what are you doing here? I thought you had con law right now.”

“I cut out for a little while… say, guys, great letter to the Crimson. Really made a good point.”

Fertik’s face lit up. “You think?”

Replied Fenno, “No, of course not, you sniveling mass of back hair. All you did was basically admit that Tribe plagiarized, but then said it’s okay as long as the guy is admired by others. I mean, what the fuck?

“You don’t get it, Fenno,” replied Fertik. “It’s all about the c
ontext–“

“Oh, bullshit, it’s all about the context. You either copied or you didn’t. And by the way, did it really take seven people to write a four-paragraph letter? Did you actually divide up the twelve sentences, or were five of you there just to pat each other on the back?”

Retorted Richenthal, “Suck it, Fenno!”

“From the looks of it, you seem to be taking care of that,” Fenno answered coolly. “By the way, be sure to wipe down those smudges before you put the frame back up. You don’t want to leave a mark.” And with that, he headed out of the room.

Fenno found himself back in the hall. He figured he should probably get back to Fried’s class. Outside, the skies were already pitch dark, and the wind looked to have picked up. Rain was threatening. Gotta love those Cambridge falls, thought Fenno. Or was it winter already? Sometimes it was just too hard to tell.

Comments