Big Fish

Trivia Writ Large

Nowhere in the world compares to Harvard Square for sheer arrogance density. Tens, hundreds, countless young men walk about Cambridge contentedly bearing the secret of their own grandeur. Perhaps their judgment is accurate, perhaps a vast ironic joke undermines the very core of existence of the University--but for some reason or other nearly every Harvard man considers himself the top man of his private totem pole.

Merely in the past week, for instance:

* A football player declared, with becoming modesty, that he doesn't feel worthy of the tremendous respect and prestige he and the rest of the team are so universally accorded.

* A Phi Beta Kappa member remarked that he feels superior to his contemporaies, and is most comfortable among other Phi Betes.

* A holder of unpopular political views stated that he was getting, by virtue of his opinions, a better education at Harvard than other people, and is, conversely, imparting to his friends a superior education.

* Three leaders of the Cambridge literary cadre debated heatedly among themselves the question "who is the most well-known undergraduate," each making a persuasive case for himself.

Meanwhile, of course, final club charter members and well-appreciated drama types are surveying the rest of the madding, pretentious crowd with subtle scorn and the perfect knowledge that they are the golden elite.

It is a wonderful thing, a relativistic meritocracy, where each man makes his own rules, and wins.