About the author: Fenno is a long-time contributor to the Record, recently returned from hiatus. A perpetual Harvard Law student, Fenno never ages, graduates, or experiences liver failure, but continues to sporadically attend classes whenever a busy recreational schedule permits.
I woke propped like a plank across two leather footrests in Caspersen Student Center. I spent a good five minutes working out which of my limbs was which, and which muscles controlled which limbs. Then I executed a controlled roll onto the adjacent couch. The sweaty skin on my face came unstuck from the leather with a sound like saran wrap being removed from squashed banana. I blinked into the hideous brightness. I attempted to utter the words “Good morning, cruel world” in a quiet voice of world-weary cynicism, but all that came out was “Nrrrrrrrrrrrrk.”
“Hey, you okay?” asked a voice approximately three feet northeast of my head.
I was not okay. I was hung over. My brain was being viciously palpated, like a lump of dough in the hands of an aggrieved baker who possibly moonlights as a masseuse. Also, I suddenly couldn’t get over how gross it is to have a tongue.
“You want a glass of water?” said the Good Samaritan, who seemed to be seated in the chair just on the other side of my armrest.
“I want a steak,” I croaked, “a cigarette, and a quick death.”
“Uh, okay.” A clittering sound of keys indicated the Samaritan’s attention had returned to his laptop. “Well, good luck with that.”
I rose to my feet. My vision started to swim, poorly, quickly got in over its head, and began to drown in earnest. I shambled to the nearest bathroom. I drank some water from the sink.
The water was lukewarm, and tasted as if it had been strained off the top of a can of albacore tuna. I procured from the inside pocket of my coat two sticks of gum. I chewed them, swallowed them, spat, drank more water. This time the water tasted as if it had been strained off the top of a can of albacore tuna, chilled in a metal bowl, and seasoned with a sprig of peppermint. Progress.
I pulled out my phone and checked my e-mail. The usual stuff. “Distinguished Speaker Series”—am I the only one who thinks the speakers should wear monocles or cravats or something? “Please Review Student Financial Aid Services!” Ten out of ten, would use again, made taking on soul-crushing debt so quick, so convenient. E-mail from writing tutor, which went as follows:
I’ve attached comments on your draft open memo. This is a good start, but I see you’ve forgotten to include questions presented, brief answer, facts, discussion, and conclusion. Please make sure you include these sections in your final draft. Also, please remove the 26-page Wikipedia article on bears that’s copy-pasted into the body of your memo.
I look forward to seeing you in conference.
As my dry lips slowly rehydrated and the gum settled in the pit of my stomach, I began to feel slightly more human. I tapped out a swift but masterful reply.
The bear material is essential factual background. I adhere to the view that all ferae naturae are agents of the federal government. The bear was acting within the scope of his employment when he devoured that child. I have witnesses placing the child at the scene of multiple mass murders. You will never silence me. I intend to take this to the highest court in the land.
Pleased with myself, I stormed off to Wasserstein in search of something to eat.
Peering through the window of a promising classroom and seeing it full of students, I marched around to the back door, ducked in and grabbed the nearest elbow. “Quick, quick, does this event have lunch? Is it something good or something weird?”
“Dude, Fenno,” whispered the student attached to the elbow, “this is our Contracts class. And it’s, like, three in the afternoon.”
“Oh,” I said.
“Where the fuck have you been all day?” said the student, apparently my section-mate, whose name was something like Jeremiah or Gregory, I don’t know, who has time to learn eighty people’s names?
I drew myself up with all the dignity I could muster. “For your information, I’m participating in a walk-out.”
Jeggery looked skeptical. “Really?”
“Yes. Unlike most of the Big Law lobotomy-cases at this school, I care about the ninety-nine percent.”
“What are you guys protesting?”
“I’m protesting all… all this!” I gestured expansively. “Carpets! Chairs! Overhead projectors that don’t need those transparency things you have to clean with Windex! Decadence! Decadence! DECADENCE!”
“Fenno, please stop screaming ‘decadence,’” said my Contracts professor from the front of the room, “and tell me what happened in Jacobs & Young v. Kent.”
“Jacobs & Young v. Kent was an inside job!” I shouted, and fled from the room.