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Freshmen unused to the wiles of Cambridge find the art of being a Harvard man harder to master than the study card, class schedule, and H.A.A. ticket embroilment all rolled into one. For one groping in the dark this way it is particularly important to understand that the foremost pleasure of being a Harvard man comes from the fact that there is no such thing.
The common American conception of such an individual comes from a mass of propaganda circulated abroad by certain malicious agencies with offices in New Haven, Princeton, Hanover and other provincial cities. This picture of the Harvard man, now generally taken for granted along with Mrs. Landon's harp and the Constitution, is the product of the same sort of mind that thinks every Italian should look like Mussolini and almost every Russian should wear a beard.
Yet it is not enough for Harvard merely to protest that it knows no stamp and has produced no type. The myth must be blown skyhigh, like the rumor of the iron in raisons or the alleged intimacy between Camels and Mrs. Cabot's throat.
There is the question of the "accent." At this one wonders whether Dudley Hall or Eliot House is meant. Ten thousand men of Harvard may pronounce "Seagram" ten thousand different ways, but the country at large brands them all with the affectation of Back Bay. Man once again suffers from the company he keeps.
As for the wardrobe, it is well to remember the proverb: 'Clothes make the Princeton man, but the Radcliffe girl makes her own clothes." Here, on the right side of the Cambridge Common, one also makes his own clothes--do the trick. The attire of the Harvard man is as mythical as his accent. The last one in captivity, answering the description, was found lying in the gutter in front of the Statler the last Saturday night of last November. His grey flannels were eight inches from his shoetops, his saddle-back shoes were an oyster gray, and his head showed the latest San Quentin coiffeur. The police thought they were on the right trail until they discovered a large blue "Y" on his undershirt.
"Indifference" is a word no longer able to bear the strain put upon it, but the Harvard man's lack of interest in the foibles of his neighbors is traditional and accurate. As there is no uniformity in manners, so there is no catholicity in taste. If a Denver student dunks his doughnut in his coffee back home he should by all means dive in to his wrist at the Union breakfasts. If one from Pass Christian likes to hang blankets over his fireplace and sing "Empty Saddles" in the shower, all the frowns of an Eastern roommate should not strip his walls or silence his matutinals. He, after all, is the "typical Harvard man."
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