The Craving Contests

Note: This series is fictional.

The total area of Austin North’s blackboards rivaled the square mileage of most Midwestern counties; nonetheless, Fenno’s Torts prof was struggling to find a sliver of space on which to write some nonsense about incentives or something. Fenno wasn’t listening—no, it was the rest of the blackboard that had his full attention. That glorious 98 percent of the board was occupied by announcements for Free Lunch.

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The First-Year’s Guide to the Law School has this to say on the subject of “Lunch”:

The only thing justifying the existence (and funding) of Student Organizations. It is known that Lunch motivates a greater percentage of a law student’s actions than the next three motivators (fear of failure, a self-image tied totally to academic performance, and the DT’s) combined. This fact, combined with most students’ (at best) ambivalence towards any opportunity for bona fide intellectual or social growth, means that Student Orgs must funnel the vast majority of their meager funding into foodstuffs. The Law School itself is aware of this, of course, but maintains funding as a way to covertly subsidize the crucial Lunch, thereby avoiding the riots that would inevitably ensue if the student population were to purchase Hark Food by the pound more than three (3) Lunches per week.

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Some poor, cold-called soul was stumbling over some gibberish involving gratuitous use of “ex ante” while Fenno picked through the rainbow of chalk. Half of it was old news already, advertising Lunches that had come and gone; between that and trying to keep all of the “LAW AND ______” (insert: “gender,” “horticulture,” “philately”) groups straight, Fenno required maximum concentration.

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The Guide contains a separate “Lunch and Linguistics” entry:

One must exercise caution in choosing your Lunch. It is a common mistake to choose an event based on topic group affiliation; such a route is to be avoided. Decisions should instead be made along the three relevant categories: “Lunch” means “Pizza,” and generally connotes lukewarm and sober Pinocchio’s; best for hangovers or similar need-for-congealed-grease-on-bread situations. “Non-Pizza Lunch,” is for the gamblers among us; likely contains soggy burritos or bland sandwiches, but there’s a non-zero chance of cookie. “Thai Food” is the holy grail, for reasons not requiring explication.

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Fenno was walking headed for a back-row seat in “Hands Off My Jenny: Invert-Error Recalls and the Supreme Court’s Takings Jurisprudence,” burritos in tow, when he bumped into Chevy. The third-year gave him a glance.

“Where,” queried Chevy, “are you off to?”

“Um. That chair? It seems like it will serve my current needs.”

Chevy’s brow arched slightly. “I didn’t take you for a stamp man.”

“Well it was either this or pizza with the Archery Tort Defenders League.”

“That’s… not what I meant.” Upon taking note of the quizzical look on Fenno’s face, Chevy felt something that might have been wistfulness. Or a headache. Either way, he just muttered, “Ah, youth.” After a quick side-to-side glance, he slipped an unopened foil pan marked “CHICKN” into a Coop bag and walked out the side door.

Fenno was stunned by this complete disregard for basic human courtesy. Then he looked down at his burrito. Up at the screen, where somebody was prepping powerpoint slides covering, in laborious detail, failure-points in various printing techniques. Over to the empty chair. Sideways to the door. Freedom.

Out in the hallway, Fenno saw Chevy leaning up against the wall, rice caught in his stubble. The elder gave the younger a brief, prideful nod, then ducked into the stairwell. Fenno found a quiet bench outside, and thought that he’d never tasted chicken so tender.

“Fenno” is a fictional serial written by an anonymous law student. The main character is always named Fenno and is always a 1L, but his or her character changes every school year. This installation is part of the series for the 2012-13 School Year, entitled “Fenno: Mostly Harmless.”

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