Authors: Lauren Kunze
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #Friendship, #Dating & Sex, #School & Education
By Lauren Kunze
with Rina Onur
OR MY FRIEND AND
regory Bolton knelt in front of the love seat in Harvard’s Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub, staring straight into the green eyes of Callie Andrews and ignoring that his friend and teammate Clint Weber sat beside her, his arm wrapped around her shoulders.
In Gregory’s coat pocket was something so small that no one could have ever guessed what an epic misunderstanding it had caused. It was a note: old and faded after months of being forgotten, tucked away among various loose papers in his bedroom. Still, he didn’t need to read it to know, almost word for word, what it said.
What happened at Harvard-Yale was a huge mistake. It was wrong for us to have slept together, and if I could take it back, I would. I messed up the room dynamic, and I probably blew it with Clint. I may be a terrible person, but if I am, then you are just as bad, if not worse. I cannot believe that I was ever stupid enough to put my trust in someone like you.
There is no hope for us in the future. I don’t see how we could even just be friends.
There’s nothing I can do about the fact that we’re living in such close quarters—believe me, if I could, I would—so let’s just try to stay as far away from each other as possible.
He also knew now what he hadn’t known before: that this note had never been meant for him—as he’d assumed these past few months—and had instead been a response to a nasty “Manifesto” written by Callie’s roommate Vanessa Von Vorhees and then taped to Callie’s bedroom window. At this point the details of how the mix-up occurred were irrelevant; all that mattered was that he was here now, prepared to set the record straight.
And, if it wasn’t enough to prove how he felt, he had something else in his back pocket as well: his cell phone. In the outbox there were several drafts of unsent messages written and dated in November after that fateful football game at Harvard-Yale.
ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY.
M GOING CRAZY. WHY . . .
THE BALCONY WHEN IT STARTED TO
HE WAY . . .
YOU WANT ME TO LEAVE YOU ALONE
UNTIL YOU WORK TH . . .
S LONG AS
M NEVER SENDING THESE
YOU TO KNOW THAT . . .
YOU PROBABLY THINK I COULD
NEVER CHANGE, BUT MAYBE . . .
E-MAILED ME AGAIN, WHICH IS WHY
M NOT SENDING THES . . .
RE AN IDIOT. YOU KNOW YOU
NEVER SEND THESE.
The messages said what he had been unable to admit out loud before. Soon, however, he might finally be able to bring himself to delete them; for he was resolved, tonight, to tell her everything.
ear Second Semester Freshmen,
Or Toddlers, as I prefer to call you, and welcome to your Terrible Twos: otherwise known as second semester. For most of you, surviving your first several months in the Ivy League probably felt like a battle; it’s safe to say, however, that the war has only just begun. But before we dive back in to all the drama both in and out of the classroom, what better way to kick off the new year than to take a moment and reflect on what everyone in America knows college is
all about. . . .
(If you guessed “studying the elementary subatomic constituents of matter and radiation,” please GO FISH, get a life, and enroll in Leaving the Library 101 this semester.)
Various outsiders might contest that our campus has a better chance of producing prize winners (Nobel, Pulitzer) than parties, but that’s only because most Harvard gatherings, including the following, are so exclusive that a rare few ever manage to secure an invite.
Five (In)Famous Harvard Parties (And Your Guide to Getting In)
This annual party at one of the eight male Final Clubs risks running a cliché, but we Cantabridgians don our twin-sized sheets from the Target Dorm Collection with a postmodern, ironic spirit—kind of like the way I wear my hot pink Harvard sweatshirt. For the first hour spontaneous speeches that all inevitably begin with “Friends, Romans, Countrymen,” ring through the halls, the bagged wine flows like water, and students embody the pinnacle of civilization. . . . Then the DJ shows up, Rome is sacked, and the whole thing degenerates into a drunken, fratty, signature Delphic mess.
Party Grade: A-
Crash-ability Level: Easy; ladies substitute a pillowcase for your sheet and the bouncer will be putty in your hands.
The Social Network:
Ever since that wordy Aaron Sorkin tried to capture our antics on film, hopeful partygoers have been storming the Phoenix praying to find the bus full of stripping, drug-doing model-actresses playing state school girls at a “typical” Harvard party from which nerds who aren’t half as hot as Jesse Eisenberg will forever be excluded. Apologies for the bubble burst, but those scenes were filmed at the Spee and were the stuff of fiction. Still, give Thursday nights at the PSK a try, and if you don’t make it past the front door, go home, crack a beer, write a complex equation on your window, and console yourself by inventing the next Facebook.
Party Grade: C
Crash-ability Level: Medium-Hard (due to all the hype); try calling yourself a “friend of Eduardo’s, enemy to Zuck, and hater of all things Winklevoss” at the door and see what happens.
The Great Gatsby:
Arguably the best party on campus, this white-tie affair takes place at the Fly Club and truly transports its guests back to the summer of 1922. Based on a strict interpretation of the literary text, no expense is spared, from the live jazz band to the vintage couture and the green light that flashes intermittently that night outside the club’s front door.
Party Grade: A+
Crash-ability Level: Impossible; this party is a date event in the strictest of terms—not even Jay Gatsby + Daisy Buchanan could get in if their names weren’t on the list.
Whether you define the word as a “pejorative term for Europeans” or defer to the Urban Dictionary delineation (
: A human sub-phylum characterized by its apparent affluence, worldliness, social affectation, and addiction to fashion), you will have fun at this shindig celebrating—ironically, of course—our campus’s beloved international contingent.
Party Grade: B+
Crash-ability level: Medium; it all depends on your costume and how authentically you can air-kiss, rock tight jeans and greasy hair, and remember that loafers should never be worn with socks.
Boxer, Formerly Known as the “Boxer Rebellion”:
This outdoor springtime gathering at the Fox Club—where it’s difficult to determine which is more awkward: the ’80s cover band or the fact that every male present is pants-less—used to derive its name from the proto-nationalist movement in turn-of-the-century China. Until some angsty
ites at our beloved school paper started raising hell about political correctness, i.e., the enemy of funny and fun.
Party Grade: A-
Crash-ability Level: Hard; they are extra careful to exclude undercover enemies of fun after the op-ed upset—men, be mindful of your underwear selection and prepare to check your pants at the door.
Work hard/Play hard,
Alexis Thorndike, Advice Columnist
Harvard University’s Authority on Campus Life since 1873
o the two of you ever stop kissing?” OK Zeyna asked, speaking in his BBC British best. “This is a party. You are supposed to socialize; you know, interact with others?”
“You are being
,” Mimi Clément agreed, wrinkling her nose. “All this touching
en public . . . c’est dégoûtant
Callie Andrews broke away from her boyfriend—yes,
, which she never tired of saying—and smiled at her neighbor and roommate, aiming for
but failing to wipe the gleeful expression from her face. “We’re sorry, but—”
“We can’t stop,” said her boyfriend, pulling Callie back to him. “We’re making up for lost time.”
“Sorry!” Callie called again, giggling but unable to lean away as he kissed her neck. “Just—give us—”
“That’s it! We’re going now!” OK cried. “Far, far away—to the bar. Milady?” he added, offering Mimi his arm with a surprisingly dignified look on his face for someone sporting nothing more than a twin-sized sheet with bright, multicolored pink polka dots. He appeared, however, to have fully forgiven Mimi for cajoling him into wearing it earlier that evening.
“You’ll be missed!” a muffled voice called, its owner’s smirk buried in Callie’s short blond hair.
“Mm-hmm,” Callie murmured, incapable of saying more as her lips were now otherwise occupied.
“Pfft . . .
Les adolescents de nos jours
,” Mimi muttered, shaking her head as she and OK abandoned the new couple standing at the base of the Delphic Club’s enormous spiral staircase. After picking their way through the main room where students danced to a DJ, their bodies wrapped in togas and heads wreathed in ivy, she and OK approached the cedar-paneled bar.
Callie watched them order drinks. “Maybe we should . . .”
“Whatever you want,” her boyfriend replied.
She smiled impishly, running her fingers along the sides of his navy-colored toga, his hips lingering inches away from her own.
“Do you want a drink?” he asked.
“No,” she said, kissing him on the cheek.
“Dance?” He nodded toward the main room.
“No,” she said, kissing him on the other cheek.
“We could go upstairs. . . .” His eyes danced wickedly.
“Oh?” She leaned back to look at him.
on the big-screen TV.”
“No!” she cried, shaking her head and kissing him on the lips.
“Well, there’s only one place left. . . .” he said, kissing her in return.
“Game room.” His head tilted to the right, where there was a large open lounge full of fat leather couches, dark wooden walls, and a pool and a poker table, where the members often played cards.
Turning, Callie spotted Vanessa Von Vorhees, another one of her roommates, sitting on a couch swathed in a Diane Von Furstenberg sheet from the designer’s new Home collection. “My own take on the classic wrap dress,” Vanessa had called to no one in particular while she safety-pinned the sides of the lavender-colored sheet in the girls’ common room in suite C 24 of Wigglesworth Dormitory prior to the party. Such announcements used to be directed at Callie—back when they were still on speaking terms.
These days their interactions were characterized by a cool formality: a volatile politeness that, though uneasy, was still preferable (according to Mimi and Dana Gray, the final of the four roommates) to the shouting matches and slamming doors of the previous semester. The exact reasons for the fight that had escalated from a battle into a full-on war seemed somewhat hazy now. Had Callie
Vanessa’s crush and her Hasty Pudding club membership, or had both simply
Callie over Vanessa? Had the nasty words Callie wrote after Vanessa trashed her bedroom constituted slander or merely venting, since Callie had never meant for “The Roommate from Hell,” a diarylike practice piece for
magazine, to be seen by anyone else’s eyes, let alone Vanessa’s? Would saving Vanessa from missing their Economics 10a exam—and from possibly flunking out of school—after she had overslept be enough to bridge the divide? Which mattered more: actions or words?
“Actions,” Callie accidentally blurted out loud.
“Talking to yourself again?” That smile that she loved so well shined down on her.
“Oops,” she said, wrapping her arms around him and resting her chin on his shoulder.
Suddenly Vanessa’s face lit up from across the room and she grinned. For a split second Callie’s heart stopped. Her hand rose to wave—
But then Tyler Green, whose exact status in relation to Vanessa (Boyfriend? Lover? Consecutive Hookup? Man/Arm Candy?) remained a mystery, sat down next to her, and Vanessa smiled at him—again—with her orthodontia-perfected teeth, tossing her strawberry blonde curls over her shoulder.
“Why the long face?”
“No reason,” Callie murmured, tearing her eyes away from Vanessa, who was laughing now and leaning in to Tyler. “Though, actually, I am a little parched. Would you mind—”
“Not at all,” he said. With one more parting kiss, he turned and started for the bar.
“Thanks,” she said, her gaze flicking back to the game room. Was it weird to feel jealous of Tyler?
While for the time being her fights with Vanessa had ceased, there was also no more giggling about the adventures of the day, lying head to feet on Vanessa’s twin bed. There were no more wonky witticisms from the Vanessa Von Vorhees School of Thought on how to dress for class (or mostly how
to dress, in Callie’s case) and “capture” a potential husband. No more nine-thirty breakfast buddy (Mimi was never conscious before noon, while Dana tended to rise before the ungodly hour of seven); no more spontaneous dance parties or spontaneous “shopping” trips through
Le Closet de Vanessa
; no more GChatting in Lamont Library or in class even though they were sitting right next to each other; and no more safety net in any given 911 social situation.
Yes, she had a boyfriend now—a
boyfriend, she thought, watching him lean up against the bar while he waited for their drinks—but still no wingman, no Goose to her Maverick, no one with whom she could navigate this new college world of firsts. . . .
At that moment Mimi zoomed past her and into the game room, where she jumped onto the pool table and started shaking a bottle of champagne that she had most likely “borrowed” from the bar. Callie laughed and shook her head. Nobody was more fabulous than Mimi, but Callie had difficulty considering her a
friend because she operated on an entirely different wavelength, always seeming to speak her own private language (in addition to the five other foreign tongues she was fluent in, including her native French).
Callie had an even tougher time relating to Dana, though the studious, staunchly moralistic girl was lovable in her own way. But Dana rarely had time for anything other than class, the library, and church with her chaste semi-boyfriend, Adam, and would never last more than five minutes at a party like this. Callie cracked a smile, picturing Dana storming out in a tangled huff of bulky white sheets and disapproving glares. In fact, she and Mimi
tried to convince Dana to join them that evening but, even in spite of their well-meaning yet slightly disingenuous references to ancient Rome and “tradition” (reality looked a lot more like cocktails, keg stands, and flashes of colorful undergarments from beneath an even more colorful array of togas), Dana had still refused.
Callie propped herself against the banister at the base of the stairs and sighed. Even though she and her high school BFF, Jessica Stanley, were downright religious about their weekly e-mail updates, something was still lost in translation between the billion miles separating Harvard from Stanford. There was no easy way to convey, for example, how even in the middle of a crowd, Callie still sometimes felt so alone, or how even with invitations to many of the most exclusive events on campus, she still sometimes felt uninvited.
And then there were some things that she felt reluctant to put in writing—like the ginormous mess she had made of last semester, from her botched friendship with Vanessa to her first B
to getting cut from
magazine in the final round.
She had only herself to blame for those particular disasters, and even the things that were seemingly beyond her control could not be blamed entirely on others, like:
a) the secret sex tape her diabolical ex-boyfriend, Evan, had made in high school, and
b) the way said tape had fallen into the hands of her arch nemesis and former
COMP director, campus queen bee, Alexis Thorndike, who
c) had then used the tape to coerce Callie into doing her bidding for months.
She, Callie, had put her trust in the wrong person (Evan) for too many years (two). And she, Callie, had been too quick to bend to Lexi’s will, doing whatever the older girl asked out of fear that she would expose the tape. Now that Callie had neutralized the threat by coming clean to the entire school in an article for the
, hindsight was twenty-twenty. What had seemed like the worst that could happen had happened, and the fallout—so far little more than the odd sideways glance or sudden silence when she walked into a room of particularly catty Pudding girls—had been far more manageable than she ever could have imagined.
Callie craned her neck, but she couldn’t see Lexi anywhere, not even gossiping at the top of the staircase or on one of the upstairs balconies where she often presided over a party with her entourage of fellow juniors. That had to be the best perk to coming clean: two blissful, Lexi-free weeks and counting.
No, false: the best perk was walking toward her now, two drinks in hand.
“To putting the past in the past,” she said, taking a glass and raising it—staring into the set of eyes that made forgetting everything very, very easy.
“To the future,” he agreed.
She clinked her cup against his and then took a sip. The future did seem promising. She had learned just as much from her mistakes last year re: friendship, love, and making the right choices as she had inside the classroom from some of the most esteemed professors on Harvard University’s payroll. This semester, with new classes, a new COMP director who didn’t already hate her guts, renewed friendships or just new ones, and best of all, a new boyfriend, what could possibly go wrong, except—
—the toga knotted at her back felt loose and started to slip—
Her drink spilled as she reached for the sheet, and she knew, just
, that in one more second she would be standing in front of the entire population of one of Harvard’s elite secret societies and their guests in only her bra and underwear—
“Easy there, I got you.” His hands were steady, holding the sheet together at the base of her back.
She breathed an enormous sigh. “What would I do without you?”
He laughed. “Go naked in public?”
“Hey!” she cried, swatting him.
“Hold still now, Andrews,” he admonished her. “This should only take a minute.”
“You’re only ten weeks late.”
“I know, but I’m here now,” he said, taking a step forward, “and I want to talk about what happened.”
“What’s taking so long back there?” she asked, trying to peer behind her at the knots securing the sheet.
“I changed my mind,” he said. In one hand he held her toga together while the other slid around her waist and pulled her into him.
“It’s too late.” The words nearly choked her.
“But what if I have something that might change your mind?” His hand moved to his pocket again, reaching into the place where he kept his cigarettes.
“Why don’t we go home now,” he murmured, his lips grazing her ear, “and I can help you take this off instead?”
His resolve appeared unshaken as he pulled not cigarettes but a small white piece of paper from his coat. Worn and folded over several times, the paper rested in the palm of his hand.
“Very tempting . . .” Her fingers traced the lines on the palm of his hand. “But I think I’d prefer to make it out of here without flashing anyone.”
“If you say so,” he said, chuckling and pulling the corners of the sheet nice and tight. “All set.”
“Thank you!” she cried, whirling around and kissing him. Keeping her arms looped behind his neck, she tilted her face and looked at him.
“What?” he said, his easy smile spreading into a grin.
“Nothing,” she insisted, standing on her tiptoes to kiss him again. “I’m just so glad . . . that you’re
He laughed, letting go of her waist. “Well, who else would I be?”
Gregory stared at Callie, still kneeling next to the love seat where she sat with Clint in the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub. “I have to talk to you,” he repeated, his eyes never leaving her face.
She shook herself. “Now?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Everything all right, man?” Clint asked, glancing between them.
“Yeah,” said Gregory. “Yes,” he repeated, as if registering his friend and teammate’s presence for the first time. “Sorry to interrupt. Just need to borrow . . . It’s about . . . class.” He gave Callie an imploring look. She said nothing but continued to stare, marveling at how much Gregory, whom she had never known to be without half a dozen sarcastic comments or biting comebacks, seemed to be struggling with his words. Besides, classes hadn’t even started yet.
“Would you mind . . . ah, coming outside with me?” he said, tilting his head toward the door.