Fenno Gets Active


FENNO SURVEYED the room around him, silently ranking each fresh new face. Flocks of overeager 1Ls were passing him by without so much as a glance. So young and yet so heartless, he thought. But just as he was about to resign himself to the casebook balanced between his knees, Fenno was – at last! – greeted by one of the sprightly neophytes he’d been hoping to meet all evening.

“So is this, like, a newspaper or something?” the girl asked, picking up a frayed old copy of the Record. Fenno wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to do – sell her on the thing? He’d agreed to give his old Record friends a hand by manning their table at the activities fair – but only because he thought it’d involve more flirtation than finesse. Unfortunately, this one wanted some kind of pitch. Suddenly, Fenno was actually nostalgic for that case note on quantum meruit he’d been pretending to read for the last three hours.

“Something like that,” he replied, blithely. “At least, it’s never even really been clear to me. I think you can write pretty much anything for it. In fact, they’ve been printing my adventures for what’s felt like decades now.” The girl, who’d looked bored as soon as he started talking, started to shuffle through the last week’s edition, her eyes finally alighting on Fenno’s column.

“Is this you?” she asked. “You’re this Italian guy, or whatever?” She skimmed her way down the page. “Oh,” she said, finally, “you’re that guy in Jonah Tweedman’s con law class. The only one who isn’t allowed to use his laptop. I remember you.”

With a curt laugh, she turned to walk away – but a friend blocked her path. “Aaaamber!” she shrieked. “What are you doing with this loser? I mean, HLS has a newspaper? Why?”

“Uhh,” stammered Amber, struggling to defend herself. “This is that kid who lost his laptop privileges in Tweedman’s class. I was just giving him a hard time. Or something.”

“O.M.G.” the friend said, enunciating each letter as if she were trying to buy time to process her thought. “Tweedman! He. Is. An. Adonis!”

Rolling his eyes, Fenno cocked his head in the direction of some other clubs. He was amused to see that the Allies of Israel and Peace for Palestine were stuck at the same table. In another corner of the room he caught sight of the card-table Napoleons of the Global Poker World Domination Society, plotting something serious with their silver-maned master.

The girls, however, had not stopped. “We so have to take his class next semester,” one of them continued. “What is it again? ‘Shariquah in Historical Context’? Or something like that.”

“I’m pretty sure it’s Shaniquah,” said the other. “Like the name. It’s Islamic law, you know? Crazy stuff, like ‘women can’t drive in the left hand lane during Ramadan.’ I think.”

The girls manning the Peace for Palestine display, Fenno noticed, had started to take unwelcome notice of this conversation. The Allies of Israel crew were quick to take notice of their distraction. They began surreptitiously occupying the Palestinian half of the table with an intimidating stack of Dershowitz tomes.

Fenno decided it was time for a break. He abandoned his casebook along with the Record display, which no one had really noticed anyway, save for those who were in line for the neighboring Shooting Club. Making his way around the room, Fenno sampled the various clubs’ signature snacks – from the Federalists’ originalist flavor M&Ms to the Mooseburgers and Aerially-Hunted Wolf Forelegs offered by the Alaska Law Students’ Association – which, Fenno noticed, were conspicuously more popular than the Environmental Law Society’s Tofu Treats and lentil-flavored lozenges.

Finally, he reached the poker players. “Heyy!” one waved him over, “ready to experience the greatest development in poker since the mob founded Vegas?”

Fenno was unimpressed. “Haven’t you guys seen that movie 21?” he asked. “And didn’t they basically do the same thing? Wasn’t it illegal?” Fenno had to raise his voice to be heard; there was some commotion coming from the direction of the Israel/Palestine table.

“Nah,” said the poker prodigy. “Okay, well, Kevin Spacey got beat up by Laurence Fishburne. But, anyway, 21 was small potatoes. We’re not talking about Vegas. We’re not talking about blackjack. We’re talking about poker. And the world! But, uh, we do need practice . . . so we’re ripping off Mohegan Sun this Friday. You in?”

“You’re beginning your bid for world domination by robbing the poor Native Americans?” wondered Fenno aloud, before recalling at least one successful precedent for that. “Anyway, speaking of Spacey, what happened to your leader?” In the background, the situation between the Israeli and Palestinian clubs was becoming even more tense. The Federalists and Rifle Club members began chanting something about the Second Amendment and rushed to the Israelis’ aid.

“Oh, he went off to Cambridge Common,” the poker player answered. “Not the bar, the park. He said he had some, uh, business to take care of before the nightly 9 PM crime wave set in.”

But, suddenly, there he was, standing over them with a grin as wide as a Royal Flush. “How’s it going, boys?” he asked, before seeing Fenno and adding, with characteristic flair: “Woo! Look at the new members you’ve got here. I’m fired up! We’re blazing!”

The combatants near the Mideast table must have heard this, because they were all suddenly screaming, “fire! blaze! bomb!”

All around Fenno, panicked 1Ls were rushing from the room. He decided to use this excuse to follow them out. It was still early, and he had plenty of time to make it to the next item on his calendar – OPIA’s public service orientation. For, like 1Ls, the night was still young, and Fenno knew that most of the first years at OPIA events were just looking for a fling, anyway.

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