Fenno: April Fennools’ Day

BY

FENNO WAS incensed. Just who did his editors at the Record (or the Wrecker, as they obnoxiously insisted on calling it this week) think they were, calling him back from his Caymans holiday so early? Sure, he had missed a few days of classes on either side of Spring Break, but Fenno had always considered those discretionary for 2Ls in the same way that 3Ls could pick and choose whether to ever go to class at all.

That, and Fenno had been looking for a job. And when one opened up, he was first in line. The Crown Prosecution Service needed assistance punishing the anti-globalization protesters looting around London, and the British government thought the beleaguered Caymans, tax havens fallen on hard times, could use a stimulus in the form of an institution that had always served Brits well in a pinch: penal colonies. Since the place was being run on the cheap, Fenno would be a camp guard, cafeteria worker, and Justice of the Peace. All in all, it wasn’t exactly the haze and laze of a summer associateship, but Fenno thought playing Viceroy was something he could handle.

And with that, his entire attitude changed – it was out with the old Fenno, and in with the new. What was it, Fenno asked himself, that all the smart, capable, with-it students did at HLS? He thought he knew where to find out.

***

THE WALK to Gannett House was still brisk this time of year, but Fenno made it from his berth in Ames to the Law Review’s colonnaded portico without so much as a coffee break. He performed the secret knock on the door, recited the secret password, and, when the Sergeant-at-Arms opened the heavy oak frame enough to allow his arm to extend, performed the secret terrorist fist-bump ritual. There were benefits to being around HLS as long as Fenno had.

Up in the President’s office, surrounded by gilded portraiture, a roaring fire, and the assistance of minions small and large, Fenno laid out his case. “I’ve been appointed Viceroy of the Caymans’ new Gitmo,” he explained, “and it won’t do for me to be little more than a subciter on the Journal of Law and Order. I need to get on the Review.””But…” the President wondered, “that sounds like a perfectly respectable non-prestigious journal. Why not just work up the ranks?”

“There’s not much time,” Fenno explained. I need to be seen as a serious student before graduation. And besides, it’s the Journal of “Law and Order”. About the TV show.”

The President nodded in agreement with the severity of Fenno’s situation. She glanced over at the stacks of law review competition materials towering over her armchair, waiting to terrorize 1Ls’ early summers, then up at the portraits of Law Review Presidents past. What would Obama do?” she wondered. And then it struck her – if Obama could appoint someone as fumblingly clueless as Tim Geithner, Fenno could surely ascend to the glories of Gannett. “He does already know about the first-bump,” she explained, later, to the board. “Most of you didn’t even raise a fuss when he snuck in to use our big-screen TV.”

“He said he was gathering sources for a subcite!”

“On the Journal of Law and Order?” the President asked, rolling her eyes. “I can’t believe you were all so daft as to fall for that.” She glanced over at the na’ve board member. “We brought you on because we thought you were clever, despite the gross error of an italicized comma in your Bluebooking test. Fenno, meanwhile, infiltrated our HQ and fooled you. Can you imagine what happens when something like that gets out? A Harvard Law Review board member – wrong? You’re supposed to be one of the smartest people on the planet! But you’ve failed me for the last time. You’re out, and Fenno’s in.”

***

FENNO BARELY HAD TIME to process to the news of his promotion to Executive Editor of the Law Review – he was off to his next stop. The Federalist Society was hosting yet another non-pizza lunch talk with a boring conservative judge about maintaining traditions. He was so there.The judge, who was from some forgotten cornstalk county in central Indiana, droned on for at least 45 minutes, touching on the Founding Fathers, baseball, the hotness of Ann Coulter, baseball, some obscure point of doctrine, and an allegory about baseball. Why, Fenno wondered, were conservatives always so obsessed with baseball? But he had hardly gotten time to muse on the subject when a raucous disagreement erupted among FedSoc’s faithful.

The schism was over the Weekend Social, the two hour period each Saturday when FedSoc members emerge from re-memorizing their CivPro outlines and do something fun. The last four Socials had been baseball games, but the Society leadership was having trouble picking up the tab for the next one.

“Isn’t Glenn Beck on Saturdays?” someone suggested. Another wanted to form a book club. “It’s the Ayn Rand Revival!” she preached. “It’s everywhere!”

This was where Fenno stepped in. “Look,” he asserted, “I don’t get you people and your fanatical devotion to burning the midnight candle, and you’ve never understood how it was possible for me to have slept through four exams in a row 1L year. But I’ll make you a deal you can’t refuse.” The members of FedSoc were all ears.

“Make me your leader, and I’ll give you two things – first, a solution to your weekend problems, second, all the booty you want from the outline closet at the Law Review. I’ve just been made Executive Editor.”

This elicited a cacophony of hoots from the FedFlock. “You?” someone asked. “Law Review?”

“Call Gannett House yourself,” Fenno confidently replied. He noticed one or two members making their way to the Hot Line the group had to Law Review headquarters. “Back in the good old days,” someone explained, “we needed that, to avoid, um, war.”

Before Fenno could ask what she meant by that, the response had come through. Fulfilling his side of the bargain, he promised FedSoc members they could easily watch Glenn Beck and read Ayn Rand at the same time. “Let’s face it,” he noted. “Their positions are such common sense, you don’t really need to think about them deeply, ever.” He would be the least likely – and most popular – President FedSoc had known since a California actor seized the White House in 1980.

***

THERE WAS ONLY one more institution left on Fenno’s hit list. He paid a visit to Acting Dean Jackson’s office. “Who are you!?” howled Howell.

“I’m here to solve your problems,” said Fenno. “You need some environmental law profs, and I need something to tide me over until I become Vice-Regent of the Grand Cayman Gulag. I’ve already claimed the Executive Editorship of the Law Review and the Presidency of FedSoc, making me, officially, the most powerful student on campus. Give me a professorship. Now.”

Acting Dean Jackson looked at his roster for the 2009-2010 year. The curriculum was good, but filled with holes. No one was teaching Secured Transactions, but Richard Parker was getting away with teaching Thomas Mann – and eating away at the wine and cheese budget.

“Goddamn you, Parker,” he muttered under his breath. He was reading fiction while Jackson was strong-armed into playing dean? “Okay, Fenno,” he relented. “The next empty chair is yours. Meet me in the Casperson Room at three for your lecture.

***

FENNO COULD NOT believe his luck. He had gone from HLS’ most dormant student to the youngest professor in Harvard history in a matter of hours. Gleaming, he decided that, between now and his triumphant accession to the AIG Professorship in Legal Ethics, he could use a cold beer and a nap. Just to celebrate, Fenno thought.

He woke up, on April 2nd, with a mild hangover, 235 unanswered emails, and a dream deferred. His phone rang; it was Gordon Brown. He could practically hear the pitchfork-wielding mob of unemployed Britons skeweing government ministers in the
background. “Been a change of plans, Fenno,” the surly PM barked. “We – the whole UK government – are jumping ship. To the Caymans. Sorry, lad, but we’ll be needing that job back. Finish your studies at Harvard; maybe someday you’ll be like that president of your…wait, what the…gahhh! Stop! I had nothing to do with the Northern Rock bailout. That was all Tony’s fau…ahh!”

Most of the emails were letters of regret that he had missed his Casperson gig, but among them were also a note from the Law Review President (“sorry to say, our secret handshake has changed” – no details included) and a brief but very formally written letter from FedSoc.

“We’re sorry to say,” the note ran, “that since you missed our morning meeting, we were forced to impeach Your Excellency as President. Fortunately, we do have other positions open. How would you like to write for the Record?”

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