Emerald walking-dress, rose-red shawl, high plumbed hat, gold-plated umbrella: Aisha I. Muharrar ’06 walked in to Adams Dining Hall last week in style.
Actually, that’s a total lie. She wore blue-jeans and a T-shirt. But it’s all Victorian in her mind.
“I live my life like I’m in a Jane Austen movie all the time,” Muharrar said casually as she mixed granola in with her yogurt. Asked if she had meant to say novel, she said, “No, movie. It’s all so sensationalized.”
Three years ago, Elise M. Stefanik ’06 had never met Muharrar when one day she approached her on the stairs of their freshman dorm. “She grabbed my elbow and said, ‘I foresee us becoming great friends!’” Stefanik remembers. “I was like, ‘You psycho!’”
In the first semester of her freshman year, Muharrar started comping the Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine. The next semester, she was admitted.
“I’m prone to write about 19th century ladies,” Muharrar said, “etiquette and all that.”
In the magazine’s most recent issue, themed “A Man for All Seasons,” Muharrar wrote a dialogue piece titled “Men and Women in the Workplace.”
“She won’t understand! She’s a woman!” one of the characters says.
But eventually his audience, someone named Tom, does it anyway: “Dolores, a penis is a man’s genital organ.”
“What?” says Dolores.
“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE US!” replies someone named Alan.
“Wow,” Dolores says. “I heard stories my whole life, but thought they were just preposterous legends...if you’ll just excuse me, I have to go discuss something with the ladies at the water cooler.”
Muharrar, one of nine women on the 33-member masthead of that issue, is now vice president of the organization. From the start, she says, she never felt her gender would be a barrier. When she came to Harvard as a pre-frosh, she asked a woman on the street how to get to the Lampoon building. The woman showed her how to get there—and then gave her a tour. It turned out she was a member.
At the time, Muharrar was already a published author. Her book “More Than a Label” was largely inspired by a friend who had recently moved from Littleton, Colorado.
“She insisted Columbine wasn’t any different than our school,” said Muharrar. “And though labeling wasn’t the only cause of the problem, I couldn’t help thinking about how it must have contributed.”
But Muharrar can be serious about less morbid subjects, too. “She says things like ‘lady parts’ in all seriousness,” wrote her roommate, Amara G. Madu ’06, in an e-mail. “You have to love that!”