“…We now had a more urgent problem: Our friend C. had elusively disappeared into the skimpy pockets of people and become our night’s Waldo.”
- The Harvard Crimson, February 18, 2010
When I’m walking around Harvard Square, I take special care to remove any trace of Tufts from my person. Efforts to detect a hint of shame for my plebeian institution of origin will hit a wall; I am not embarrassed (mostly) to be a student at Tufts. Rather, I shudder at the idea of once more coming across a Coop attendant who, spying the Tufts pin on my bag, senses my puzzlement with the newest issue of the New York Review of Books that I have picked up (mistaking it for Newsweek) and cautiously directs me towards their collection of Nora Roberts potboilers located in a gutted bunker in their sub-basement, or to a stack of colorful post-its by the register, or (far worse) to the delightfully accessible musings of David Sedaris. He adds more salt to the wound ripped open by this intellectual profiling by revealing, upon my asking, that he went to Brandeis.
Walking around Cambridge earlier this month on my way back from a shopping trip, I broke with usual protocol. Riding on a wave of pride for my alma mater, due of course to the scores of tasteful admissions videos submitted by prospies who can rap with a mouthful of rubber-bands after reconstructive jaw surgery or deepen critical understanding of Lady Macbeth by delivering one of her monologues while striking a perfect downward dog yogalates pose, I boldly displayed my Tufts pin.
In a flash, an unmarked white Chevy Astrovan screeched to a halt in front of me, and I was restrained and thrust inside. My captors revealed themselves promptly: the Editorial Board of The Harvard Crimson. Before I began to panic, they explained the reason for my seizure. Facing an apparent dearth of something, anything more interesting to write about, they were planning a series of reviews of the party scenes of neighboring schools and needed an “in” at Tufts. Their proposed date: February 14th. “No!” I protested, “that’s Valentine’s Day, and I plan to be… erm, busy that night.”
As it happened, my schedule for the night of Valentine’s Day was empty, by no fault of my own, I might add. The Valentine’s Day cupcakes, which were doubtlessly delivered to my door by the dozens, went inexplicably missing. I woke up at two that afternoon, bracing myself as I opened the door for a meter-high pyramid of baked goods. Seeing none, I knew at once that they had been stolen. I berated a few of my hallmates, but they refused to admit their indisputable guilt. Luckily for me, I care far more about the cupcakes themselves than for any accompanying inedible sentiment. Feeling more than a little lonely after gorging myself on umpteen heart-shaped bonbons, I decided I might as well take the Crimson editors up on their offer.
As luck would have it, Professors Row is a mere two-dollar cab ride from my room in Lewis, though a last-minute detour to the Danish Pastry House increased the fare marginally. As I have discovered during multiple DPH Sunday brunches, their iced chai is the perfect mixer for really any kind of liquor. In an astonishing coincidence, the cab driver that picked me up had just dropped off my Harvard conspirators at their destination on Pro Row. On the way to DPH, I chatted with the cabbie in his mother tongue, Haitian Creole. Of course, Creole and French are not mutually intelligible, and he ruefully described how the crew from Harvard had barked at him in the language of his colonizers, disregarding his request (in English) for proper communication.
Regrettably, my narration ends here. I knocked back too many vodkachinos and André au laits in the cab ride to Professors Row, and my memory was wiped clean. It is now that I must reveal, for the first time in print, that the beguiling and elusive temptress referred to only as “C” in the notorious Crimson piece is none other than yours truly. As my Harvard collaborators tell it, having arrived at the frat, I disappeared briefly in pursuit of a “feminine grace,” only to return unharmed and partnerless. Fat chance. More like: I came to at five in the morning on the floor of the Metcalf handicapped bathroom. Sharpie marks on my face, items adhered to my clothes and hair with what I hope is only Natty, and a slew of new contacts added to my Blackberry all form a sort of fossil record of what must have been the best night of my life. And with that, I defer to the startling insight of my Harvard peers: “Just getting out is sometimes rewarding enough.”