Looking Out For Harold And His Friends
THERE is startling and fierce efficiency in the way upper-middle class adolescents intents socially Throw 30 of them together sometime in the morning, and by lunch they will have aligned themselves in farm groups from the trend setters to the sleep. They all worry about "their records high school not criminal and each June some 800 do something about it, they show up for the Harvard Summer Session.
True to-life first day scene Cars till the Yard at 8 a.m. and families find their kid still won't get the good bed because some people arrive a full day early and get to the dorms by 7.30 a.m. Proctors stand calmly near entryways, checking off names and absorbing effusive admiration for attending an Ivy League school I must want to be a lawyer, no. They think I write recommendations no?
An obvious flake unloads his home computer from a Mercedes station wagon with Connecticut plates, and Dad says something like. "So really, what does it take to get in He's got top-notch scores, will he make it?" They told us about this at proctor orientation but it hadn't seemed possible "Yes," I reply, "I can guarantee it."
Proctoring means keeping an open mind" also kept popping up at the orientation sessions, but as the hordes march back from their first encounter with Sebastion Sandwiches at the Union, the caste lines are already becoming clear. A quick primer on how the nation's eleventh grade elite arranges itself.
Trend setters Comfortable with the opposite sex and partial to high fashion, the ranking socialities insist on an appearance of casualness while they grind it out just like the rest of them. They shake hands and peck cheeks with studied grace. Sometimes sleep together, and always talk about it within earshot of their elders.
Older women A sub-division of the trend-setters, they smoke British cigarettes and seduce proctors. They are not older in years, merely more weary of the world and more prone to peasant skirts, husky laughs, and hoop earings. The never join the trend setters for mid-Yard tanning sessions, and they call their prep school boy friends "lovers."
Sheep They do what they're told.
Flakes Burdened with parer's who compare their SAT scores like golf handicaps, the flakes respond in various ways. Some ostentatiously unload home computers on the first day and effectively guarantee a summer of alienation right there. Others talk only about science fiction, and some boast prodigious drug habits. These are the kids who read the newspapers and know every hatted of the Vietnan War. Many come from Bronx High School of Science, where they win debating trophies or excel at ping pong.
Special interest partisians These are flakes who are up. They re pound that they read the papers and know every battle of the Vietnam War but are enough he admit their lust for the trend setter bunne. No, they must still atone for their occasional outbrusts of sarcasm or thier lingering interests in science fiction. Predominantly male (but includeng a few young women who write bad blank verse and read Virginia Woolf) the special interest partisans the hope and promise of their generation.
Standing above all this exictement, the proctor with integrity ends up taking sides at some point. You can't help but sympathize with the science fiction fan. Harold who falls for Suzi Scarsdale and does all of her physics homework, only to be scorned as "too serious" and left alone with his calculator while Suzi lets some Chip of Chuck sweep her away to an evening of mystery and adventure.
So you he to Harold and tell him it's not important and that he's more of a man for sticking to his guns and being serious if that's the way he wants to be. Inside you kick yourself because the bottom line is that making out with Suzi Scarsdale is making out with Suzi Searsdale. Her elder sister pulled the same crap on you.
"Let's go get some ice steam you say it Harold and spend a bitter sweet should baning arguing about the Red Sox
THE WARM WEATHER and musky smell of subway construction from the Square has a profound effect on the youthful hormone system, and this creates problems for the proctors as well as the Harolds of summer school. Naturally you have a professional duty to restrain from philandering with the guests, but when opportunity knocks at 3 a.m., wondering if you have a match when you've said repeatedly that you can't stand smokers--well, you do the best you can.
Poof! A puff of smoke and a little red devil on your right shoulder whispers in your eat. "Whaddaya doing putz--You're two years past your sexual prime and slipping fast: you gonna pass this up sucker?.
Ding! A flash of light and a little white angel on your left shoulders asks, "Didn't they just discuss this at the meeting this morning? You wouldn't would you?".
She would be a mother of two in some less developed countries. You bet he would.
"What it she spreads the word among her friends."
ATHLETICS are another important aspect of a summer proctorship. In fact a surprisingly large proportion of your colleagues are members of varsity teams. You've got the infield of the women's softball squad most of the gridders starting secondary and the middle distance runners of both sexes. All of this is of course, the result of a wholly impartial selection process. In which the written applications of all those interested are given equal scrutiny.
The athletes tend to sponsor 10 kilometer runs and dorm parties, but intimate cookouts give the less physically fit a chance to join in the fun. As the fire smolders and the bugs start biting, the whole gang sits around and chews the tat, until the trend-setters leave to change for the evening.
The talk often turns at those casual affairs to matters of academic prowess and the key to the successful college interview. "I hear coming here is just as good as being on student council," a particular fellow actually said one night, and they didn't let him forget it until August.
Five questions tend to surface over and over when considering higher education with the up wardly mobile products of advantage.
1. What were your scores?
2. Were you on student council?
3. What were your scores?
4. Do you work all the time?
5. What were your scores?
Best to divert them with takes of double-800s who are happily attending state schools and absurd geographical diversity cases this made it into Harvard. They don't believe you, but it seems to make them feel better until the topic changes to sex, by which time only the Haroble are lot and you lead them on into the humudity beyond the Yard for bitter sweet chocolate ice cream.
This article is reprinted from the Crimson "Summer Supplement," The aythor worked as it protector duiing the 1981 summer session.