The Big Green Beast

Brass Tacks

THERE'S A BEAST stalking Harvard. It's big, green, and smells like stale beer. I had never seen it until yesterday when it snuck up and hit me from behind.

It was lunchtime, and I was sitting in Elsie's dividing my attention between a Turkey Deluxe and a copy of the Undergraduate Council's divestment referendum. To no one in particular I muttered, "Sure, divestment's all right... the council may as well throw in a good word for it." Then it happened. My Turkey Deluxe and I were knocked to the floor. I rose to confront my assailant, and there it was--the Issue Hyper-Sensitivity Beast.

As it slimed its way back out the door, it turned and snarled, "You callous political schemer...you devious turncoat, that'll teach you to meddle in council politics." Standing amidst the remnants of my lunch and the smell of stale beer, I realized that in expressing my opinion on the divestment issue, I had unwittingly become an accomplice in a council coup d'etat.

Feeling important, if a little hungry, I set off for OCS-OCL to look for a summer job. Maybe someone would hire a devious turncoat. I couldn't help chuckling at a poster touting Sylvester Stallone as Hasty Pudding Theatricals' Man of the Year. This time, the Beast grabbed me by the throat. "Imperialist dog," it growled, "Rambo-loving fascist! I bet you step on Third World nations before breakfast."

A Turkey Deluxe is one thing, life and limb another, so I politely explained that I had simply been on my way to see if anyone would hire a vacationing Social Studies concentrator, and I had thought it funny that an actor with fewer lines than Rin-Tin-Tin had won a dramatic award. As it released me, it winked, "Social Studies, huh? Well, have a nice day, comrade."

Ah, Harvard. Where else could my political affiliations be trumpeted to the world by the courses I choose and the movies I watch? Where else could I be a political schemer, an imperialist dog, and a chain-smoking socialist before I even finished lunch? Certainly not at Dartmouth.

Dartmouth! Even the most bumbling turncoat could have figured it out. The Issue Hyper-Sensitivity Beast had come from Dartmouth. Big, green, and smelling of stale beer. Late one night, hundreds of Dartmouth students must have gathered all their issue sensitivity into a ball and rolled it down Route 91. It snowballed all the way into Harvard Square.

Clearly, Issue Hyper-Sensitivity had been interfering in such Dartmouth-like activities as drinking beer, skiing, and drinking beer. But no more. At Harvard, drinking a cola made by a company that operates in South Africa might be a way to show one's opposition to divestment. At Dartmouth, even demonstrations and petitions are too subtle. To get a point across at the Big Green, one sledgehammers activist shanties in the pre-dawn darkness.

Bruises and hunger aside, I'm not altogether unhappy with our new Beast. It saves us hours of tedious intellectual discussion, promotes easy stereotypes, and saves wear and tear on heavy tools. Still, I really miss the good old days when I could drink my morning coffee without being labeled a puppet of Brazilian coffee monopolists.