I HAVE A DATE, a dress, reservations at a romantic restaurant, and an invitation to an elegant ball to be held in the Yard. There's only one thing missing.
Last month the Dean of Students' office sent out some 6600 invitations to an outdoor black tie affair on October 11, as partial compensation for holding the bulk of the 350th celebration while undergrads were out of town. I saw it for what it was: a tail-between-the-legs attempt to avoid student criticism and smooth our ruffled feathers. But what the hell, I'm always up for a good party.
The lavishly printed invitation mentioned limited space and advised a quick reply--along with $15 for each ticket. But by the time I received my invitation, there were only two days until my return to Harvard. I figured it would be faster to take my check and my reply card to the dean's office personally, rather than sending them in. I went to the dean's office right from Logan Airport, my check in hand, my new dress still wrapped in tissue, my floral crown on order, and my mind dancing with visions of an evening Daisy Buchanan would envy.
"Two 350th tickets, please," I whispered breathlessly.
They politely told me to look for an announcement in The Crimson the first Friday after school started. They smiled at me. They turned back to their file cabinets. They already had their tickets.
One of them who had a shred of compassion told me to go ahead and mail the check and the reply card in. She said they would be put into a pile in case more tickets were issued. Pathetic, but good enough for me. I went straight to the nearest mailbox.
I rushed home to get the keys to my suite, put down my suitcases, and asked my roommates what they planned to wear to the ball. Lo and behold, none of them had tickets. One of them had been leading the Harvard Band through the real 350th celebration when her invitation arrived at her home. It's too late for her to get a ticket. Think of it! The others had stories just as heart-rending, if less cruelly ironic.
Actually, I have yet to find anyone I know who has tickets. Even if I do get the tickets I ordered, who wants to go to a dance where you don't know anyone? And who wants to go to a dance populated by people who sat home all summer with stamp and checkbook poised waiting for their invitation? Not me, boy. Unless Friday's announcement says they'll make room for everyone who wants to go, I don't think I want to be there.
I don't know many of the details. Apparently, there is only room for 3500 people in the tent. That is barely more than half the number of undergraduates, and who knows who else was invited? Apparently, the ticketing process just couldn't wait until students arrived on campus. Apparently, unless you were at your mailing address in August in order to open your mail the instant it arrived, you deserve to be excluded from yet another round of Harvard's birthday party.
Apparently, the dean's office enjoys fostering elitism by fidelity to mailing address.
It was a nice idea, but badly organized. At this point, I simply don't care anymore. Next time, don't bother inviting me.
The pleasure of your company is requested at the 350th Ball in celebration of the founding of Harvard college
Memorial Hall Courtyard
Eleventh of October
One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty-Six 9 o'clock p.m. until 2 o'clock a.m.
Black TieResponse Card Enclosed