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A Vision of the Future

By David A. Fahrenthold

This was supposed to be a column about my first experience with streaking last week, sprinting stark naked at midnight through the Yard while ululating at screaming onlookers. From that experience, and from running in Primal Scream the very next night, I had drawn a number of profound lessons about pride and identity at Harvard. But those turned out to be a load of response-paper crap, so I threw most of it out. Here's the short version:

I was there, naked. You were there, gawking open-mouthed. Gaping, like the Bad News Bears on the set of "Eyes Wide Shut." Staring, as if the nude bodies of your classmates were jiggling out a message from your ancestors. I swear: Many of you are messed up worse than little Elian. It's a good thing Harvard doesn't have too many nude drawing classes, since from your "found the peephole into the girls' locker room" look at Primal Scream it seems that a stationary naked person might give you an aneurysm.

Also, please look up the meaning of "ululate" before suing me for obscenity, contacting Ralph Reed, or coming to my room and bludgeoning me as a "message from Kyle."

Instead of that first drivelous column idea, for my final message to underclassmen (or, in The Crimson's gender-neutral language, "half-pints"), I tried to get back to the core of my Harvard experience. On a sunny day, I sat out by the Charles with a beach towel and a cool drink and watched the crew boats go by. Then I thought: who am I kidding? Through my four years at Harvard I've never had time to sit by the river and relax: I've done as much sunbathing as a sightless mole. I've heard that if you sit out by the river long enough, Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 comes along and hands out computer science problem sets so you'll get back to work. So instead of sunbathing, I got an enormous cup of coffee and sat down at my computer at 3 a.m. Ah, the college life.

Suddenly, though, I feel a little strange. Maybe a Store 24 employee put some of their, uh, personal brew into tonight's coffee. Maybe that green stuff on the pizza wasn't pesto. Anyway, suddenly everything's hazy, then black. When I wake up again, my hair is graying, my underwear is aluminum and Ricky Martin is president. I look at the wall clock--it's the year 2020 (No complaints about the segue. If you want plots, read the Salient).

Much of my vision of the future I can't reveal, especially sports scores and the Next Big Thing in pop music (though I will say that if you're in a klezmer band, better get an agent and some new leather pants). But to answer your most pressing questions about the future: No, Major League Baseball teams will never wear those God-awful "Turn Ahead the Clock" uniforms, and yes, it's true--spray-on pants.

Just FYI about the future: Since Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) was elected, politics has changed tremendously. With the requirements of residency and political experience thrown out, all you need to get elected anywhere is to be famous and have a reputation for being intelligent. Since Clinton's election, Marilyn Vos Savant, Stephen Hawking and Dr. Dre (street smarts) have all been elected to the House from Utah. Alex Trebek is King of Canada.

In local news, business at the Crimson Sports Grille was crippled when, in 2010, the United States lowered its drinking age to 15. The bar's owners responded by debuting a loveable new animated mascot, Sketchy the Alkoholic Anteater. His "krazy" antics, plus Captain Hook-Up's Fountain of Red Dog, draw in customers as young as 8. The competing mascot at Charlie's Kitchen, Donnie the Tenderhearted but Syphilitic Townie, has gone over less well.

But the most surprising thing about the future is this: Twenty years after Harvard, the state of your brain matters a lot more than the state of your resume. Some workaholic students emerged in the spring of my senior year looking like Charlton Heston after he comes down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments--burned out and still smoking, clutching a Hoopes Prize instead of stone tablets. Still today (the future), these people have the dynamism and social warmth of a strep throat culture.

Knowing them, this is my advice from 2020: Be smarter and happier through doing things you like. Enjoy Gen. Ed. 105? Get some friends. They'll help you make the same sorts of discoveries about yourself. Afraid to say what you really feel because of Harvard's hyper-liberal atmosphere? Say it anyway--most of those people like a good fight as much as you do. Then you'll know yourself well enough to know what you really want out of life, and you'll know others well enough to make them give it to you. These may sound like the tritest of truisms, but we Harvard students disobey conventional wisdom like the producers of "Battlefield Earth." Take my advice, half-pints, and in the future you'll do just fine.

Except for all you people leering instead of Screaming at Primal Scream. You're going to be ushers at adult movie theaters in Nevada. And don't think I'll be sorry.

David A. Fahrenthold '00 is a history concentrator in Dunster House. This is his final column.

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