Harvard one-room doubles are notorious for causing tension. Take any two people, and no matter how much they like each other to start off, you can be sure that during some point in the year one of them will feel like moving out. The lack of privacy, especially for those who are unaccustomed to living in such quarters, can rapidly bring any conflicting personality traits to a boiling point. Perhaps nobody escapes the anxieties caused by these living conditions. But the pressures of dealing with social life at Harvard can be heightened to the point of impossibility by living in a one-room double.
Adrian Harris and Louise Cart-wright arrived at their spacious shell in Hollis on the first day dorms opened in September. Things began well enough as the two of them unpacked their belongings and decided, compatibly where to hang their impressionist prints and ivy pots, and agreed on where to place the beds, desks and chairs. There was not a whole lot of room for creativity, but the process occupied most of the first week-end of freshman week and provided ample time for the two to discuss their families, high schools and become acquainted. Adrian and Louise discovered that the Freshman dean's office had created a very suitable match, in fact, they were amazed how much they were alike. Both had attended private, suburban day schools. Louise was from Bethesda. Adrian from Providence. They both had similar tastes in clothes, and as Adrian watched Louise fill her drawers with cotton shirts, straight, just-below-the-knee length skirts and corduroy pants, she though that the she could easily be unpacking her own suitcases which were sitting untouched near the bricked-up fireplace.
Adrian and Louise realized that each of them was attractive and they sized up each other's appearance as they decorated the room. Although they did not discuss men--this would later become a common topic of conversation--each of them secretly wondered who would be the most likely to receive the most attention. Adrian had noticed that Louise had a way of looking at her which she suspected, if she were a man, could be very alluring--a sort of serious, penetrating look, right into her eyes. Men, however, did not seem to be a safe topic of conversation for that first afternoon, even though both of them were thinking about it.
Louise had long, straight, auburn colored hair, dark brown inset eyes, and a perfectly clear complexion which was lightly tanned from the summer. She had spent a few weeks in the mountains which added a healthy glow to her already striking features. She seemed to know exactly where she wanted to place all her photographs and little knick-knacks, and her side of the room rapidly took on a warm homey appearance. Adrian was a little less sure of where she wanted her things to go, partly because she felt that nothing she could ever do would make that cavernous hole, look any better. Adrian was very blonde and blue-eyed, with a more austere face than Louise's which often tended to make her look indifferent when she did not feel that way.
The week proceeded well enough. There was lots of time for COOP shopping, Square browsing and the freshman week dances and picnics. Louise attended these functions with great enthusiasm. They provided the perfect opportunity for her to meet lots of people. Adrian was a little less turned on by freshman week. After that freshman picnic up at the Radcliffe Quad on Tuesday night, Adrian had decided that she did not like many people in the Freshman class--at that point she felt like she hated everyone, nor did she like the way everyone seemed to be looking for members of the opposite sex to date.
By the fourth day of the week, Louise was complaining that the phone which had been installed by one of the two large windows facing the Yard hadn't been connected yet. Adrian couldn't figure out what Louise was bitching about, after all, there were plenty of phones in the Square. But as Adrian was soon to find out, the phone would come to play a crucial role in Louis's life and the lives of all the men she would attract.
Even without the telephone, a sizeable number of men, with that "Boy look what I've found" gleam were finding their way to Hollis 16. Men learned very rapidly where Louise lived, and as Adrian soon realized, it was Louise they came for, not her. On Tuesday for instance, the two of them had ventured down to Skippy White's in Central Square to buy a record which Louise thought would be fun to play if they ever had a party--a song she had heard on the radio all summer and had not been able to find. On the subway ride back two boys with suitcases were sitting in front of them. Louise, in her friendly manner, managed to start up a conversation by mentioning, a little too loudly to Adrian, that they would have to go for their bursars card pictures as soon as they got back. As it turned out both David and Peter were sophomores at Harvard, something Louise might have guessed from their obvious "we go to Harvard" look. They devoted all their attention to her, as she asked questions about their freshman year, Harvard in general, and where all the good restaurants were in Cambridge. By the time they pulled into Harvard Square, Adrian was amazed at how well Louise could make small talk, and thought it remarkable just how interested these guys could be in her roommate after one three-minute train ride.
Whatever she did, it sure worked well, for David arrived at their door five minutes after them, after having somehow surreptitiously followed them back to their room. He quickly seated himself on the black wooden Harvard chair and Adrian prepared to leave the room soon afterwards saying she had to meet somebody. She figured that Louise could deal with David. The minute he appeared she had sized him up as a real loser who thought he would get a head start on the rest of his classmates by courting Louise. Besides, he was Louise's responsibility since she had been the one to be so damn friendly on the subway.
By the end of the week, Bell Telephone had managed to hook up the phone and Adrian soon began to understand its importance in Louise's life. It never stopped ringing. All Louise had to do was talk to some guy in the library, smile to someone on her way through the Yard and as soon as she stepped back into the room, the phone would be ringing.
Louise was always at her best during meals, and brunch on that second Sunday at Harvard was no exception. Adrian and Louise got up around the usual hour, 11 o'clock or so. They chatted amiably and exchanged stories of their Saturday night adventures. They dressed and each looked themselves over in the mirror, Louise taking a little longer to comb out that last stray wisp of hair, and finally, pleased with the results, they were ready to leave. Weekend meals were proving to be more interesting for Louise than Adrian. They provided her with the opportunity to flirt with real men, not those cloddy freshmen who were always bumping into your chair in the Union with a loaded tray and spilling milk all over the jacket you had hanging over the back of your chair.
Brunch at Lowell House started off in the soon-to-be-typical style. Adrian and Louise sat down at one of the short rectangle tables and were immediately surrounded with eager-looking upper classmen running back and forth fetching more orange juice, scrambled eggs and coffee for Louise. No matter how much she ate, however, Louise always managed to keep up a running conversation with all the surrounding males. And she was interested or at least feigned interest in any personal details the male population had to divulge about themselves: law school, plans for next year, what courses they were planning to take, that great year off between sophomore and junior years--absolutely everything.
The lanky-dark-haired guy, who looked a little older than the rest was obviously going to be the morning's prize. Martin had been happy to tell Louise that he was a grad student in government and a House tutor, very much under the illusion that his status gave him a special advantage over the others. Louise had plunged right into her routine, asking him questions, smiling at just the right moments, holding herself up straight, sneaking in a little giggle here and there, staring captivating, trance-like right into Martin's eyes and finally, at the end of the meal, leaning back in her chair, with a lighted cigarette between her fingers. Adrian found the whole scene revolting. After all, she thought, it was noon on a Sunday. Wasn't it time to stop thinking about men until the weekend? Wasn't Harvard going to be more than one long Friday night?
Brunch ended with Louise saying that they really did have lots of things to do and even though they hated to leave, it really was time to "hit the old books." Her intonation, however, gave guys like Martin the impression that she would probably love to see them all again sometime soon. Adrian managed a slight smile--after all she hadn't even been introduced to these people--or actually, hadn't bothered to introduce herself. She certainly didn't want these guys calling her up and asking her out next week-end. Adrian was going to think of something else besides men while she was at Harvard, even though she hadn't yet thought of any other diversions besides school work.
Louise and Adrian made the trek back up to the Yard with Louise saying hello to practically everyone they saw. By the time they got back up to their room, the phone was already jangling. After a few unnecessary rings, Louise picked it up.
"Hello," Louise said in her best telephone voice--a soothing voice that sounded like your mother's when she answers the phone in the middle of a big fight you are having with her--very pleasant, very annoying.