The Blind Leading the Blind

Remember that diversity you heard so much about on pre-frosh weekend? FM does. It’s true that people of all proclivities

Remember that diversity you heard so much about on pre-frosh weekend? FM does. It’s true that people of all proclivities and pastimes roam this campus, but sadly, once freshman week is over, they tend to find their own and stay with them. The same applies to dating, which inspired FM to play cupid this Valentine’s Day. Two apparently disparate pairs were handpicked to give it a try over a free dinner at Spice, raising a multitude of questions. Could the Bee and the Co-op click? Eurotrash and country punk? Meet the dates below, and then turn the page for excerpts from their sizzling encounters.

Emily M. Kaplan '05

House: Currier

Concentration: English

Hometown: New York City

Extracurricular pursuits: None

Ideal date: Anything involving sweatpants and amazing movies from the 1980s.

Ideal mate: Ryan, the firefighter poet from ABC’s “The Bachelorette.”

Your sexiest physical trait: My voluptuous breasts.

Best way for a guy/girl to get your attention: Bad dancers are always strangely cute.

Where to find you on a Saturday night: At a bar, most likely embarrassing myself.

First thing you notice about a guy/girl: Personality?

Your best pickup line: Nice bum, where you from?

Most memorable pickup line a guy/girl has ever used on you: “Hey, wanna go make out in the Spee phone booth?”

Favorite thing about Harvard: The Spee phone booth.

Most important thing you’ve learned at Harvard so far: In Expos: There is no word in the English language that rhymes with “month.”

Sketchiest moment at Harvard: When Lowell Thomas ’05 found out where we kept our key freshman year and climbed into my roommate’s empty bed, threw his boxers at me and passed out.

One thing you must do before graduation: Primal scream.

Describe yourself in three words: Boo-ty-licious.

In 15 minutes you are: Taking a cab from the Square to Currier.

In 15 years you are: Living on a beach somewhere and being fabulous.

What are you hoping will happen on this date? I hope that I meet a super dreamy boy.

What are you worried will happen on this date?  I’m worried it will be like that show “Star Dates,” where the girls think they’re being set up with Brad Pitt, but it’s really Gary Coleman or that little batboy from “The Munsters.”

Jordan A.A. Bar Am '04

House: Dudley Co-op

Concentration: Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Hometown: Maplewood, New Jersey

Extracurricular pursuits: Fair Trade, cooperative living, UC.

Ideal date: Good food, good fun.

Ideal mate: Wouldn’t I like to know.

Your sexiest physical trait: My ankles.

Best way for a guy/girl to get your attention: Talking to me is a good start.

Where to find you on a Saturday night: Probably 3 Sacramento Street.

First thing you notice about a guy/girl: Their appearance? I don’t know.

Your best pickup line: “Hi.”

The most memorable pickup line a guy/girl has ever used on you: I’m too clueless to know if a girl is hitting on me.

Favorite thing about Harvard: The people.

Most important thing you’ve learned at Harvard so far: To be conscious about the assumptions under which I operate.

Sketchiest moment at Harvard: It would be hard to pick just one.

One thing you must do before graduation: I would love to see Martin Feldstein read a book to a bunch of small children.

Describe yourself in three words: Jordan Bar Am.

In 15 minutes you are: In the shower.

In 15 years you are: Living somewhere beautiful.

What are you hoping will happen on this date? To meet somebody new and have a nice time.

What are you worried will happen on this date? I’m not too worried.

Andrew R. Suggs '05

House: Leverett

Concentration: VES

Hometown: Parrottsville, Tennessee

Extracurricular pursuits: Costume design,

Harvard Photography Journal, BGLTSA board member.

Ideal date: Sick boy.

Ideal mate: Avril Lavigne, of course.

Your sexiest physical trait: My eyes.

Best way for a guy/girl to get your attention: Offer me sex/drugs/alcohol/Jesus.

Where to find you on a Saturday night: In my room with a Milwaukee’s Best and a severe depressive longing for poetic words to ease the pain. Listening to The The.

First thing you notice about a guy/girl: Clothing/accessories

Your best pickup line: “Are you a born-again virgin?”

The most memorable pickup line a guy/girl has ever used on you: “Are you from New York?”

Favorite thing about Harvard: Cigarette breaks and HeartThrob.

Most important thing you’ve learned at Harvard so far: A toboggan is really just a sled.

Sketchiest moment at Harvard: Vodka, root beer and punch drunk madness in the Quad.

One thing you must do before graduation: Take my friends camping in Tennessee.

Describe yourself in three words: Fragile turnip curds.

In 15 minutes you are: Getting fucked-up with the boys.

In 15 years you are: Getting fucked-up with the boys.

What are you hoping will happen on this date? A tornado.

What are you worried will happen on this date? Nuclear warfare.

Venu A. Nadella '04

House: Adams

Concentration: Sociology and Economics.

Hometown: Copley, Ohio.

Extracurricular pursuits: Kuumba, Dorm Crew, COACH, IOP, AMBLE, D&D.;

Ideal date: We’d either go to the Aquarium or go ice-skating, then to dinner. We’d talk a lot and at the end maybe give each other a peck on the cheek—and I don’t mean the ones on my arse.

Ideal mate: Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Affirmative Action, but when it comes to men, I tend not to be an equal opportunity employer.  Call me Disney, ‘cause I like them Snow White!  That aside, he would be really sweet and affectionate and would make me feel special.

Your sexiest physical trait:  My caramel-colored eyes.

Best way for a guy/girl to get your attention:  Girl?  Ew... He’d do something really sweet—bring me my favorite drink: Yoo-hoo!

Where to find you on a Saturday night: Doing silly stuff with friends, waiting for Prince Charming to knock on my door.

First thing you notice about a guy/girl: He smiles at people he doesn’t know and is comfortable enough with himself to hug/kiss friends in public.

Your best pickup line: The only thing I’ve picked up in my life is trash. Litter, not people.

Favorite thing about Harvard: I love the people...I love you all!  Um, maybe not, but whatever.

Most important thing you’ve learned at Harvard so far: Be yourself and friends will come.

Sketchiest moment at Harvard: Um, I rub my ass against friends everyday in the dining hall and occasionally air hump them.

One thing you must do before graduation: Actually go to Widener once.

Describe yourself in three words: Cheesy like Velveeta.

In 15 minutes you are: Asleep.

In 15 years you are: In Stockholm or Helsinki with my Swedish/Finnish lover.

What are you hoping will happen on this date? He will say “thank you” when the waiter brings us food. I don’t like pompous assholes.

What are you worried will happen on this date? He will not say “thank you,” and I’ll get bitchy.

Emily M. Kaplan and Jordan A. Bar Am

The combination is inspired, in a Dharma & Greg laugh-track kind of way. Emily, a polite and perfumed sophomore member of the Bee from the Upper East Side of New York, meets Jordan, a Jersey native who lives in the Dudley Co-op and made headlines by being a member of the PSLM sit-in while still a first-year at the college. Still, Harvard is a small, small world. It turns out that the two have met once before, while dining with Manuela L. Zoninsein ’05, Emily’s roommate and Jordan’s FUPpie. The pair seeks—largely unsuccessfully because that was the point—for more common ground. On the topic of extracurriculars, Jordan asks Emily about her activities outside of the classroom.

Emily: Oh, um…none of my friends do anything legitimate…You do FUP, right? What else do you do?

Jordan: I’m involved with Fair Trade Coffee. I heard about it when I took a class on community organizing and got into the campaign.

Emily: So you’re, like, responsible for the whole program? I’ll look for the coffee next time I’m in the dining hall.

The pair take the edge off by discussing dating shows.

Jordan: The people on those shows are such idiots!

Emily: So funny!

Jordan: Why would someone subject themselves to that?

Emily confesses that she had reservations about the date.

Emily: I was nervous. I thought it would be one of those weird set-ups, that I would be set up with a twelve-year-old boy from a local elementary school or something. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Both pick at their food.

Jordan: So, where are you from, go to school?

Emily: New York City…Manhattan, the Upper East Side. I went to Spence, an all-girls’ school. Then boarding school...and you?

Jordan: I’m from Jersey. Went to public school.

Emily asks Jordan about his living situation.

Emily: Dudley...that’s where you all have certain jobs, right? Is it fun? What do you do?

Jordan: We bake our own bread.

The pair giggles when they see that the waitress has brought them a romanic Thai iced tea with two straws. Emily tugs at her turtleneck collar, blushes, and looks away. Avoiding drinking from the dual straw, she discusses her concentration, English, and Jordan, a Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations concentrator, talks about his summer in Israel.

Emily: So, what are your summer plans?

Jordan: I want to go teach English in an Arab village in Israel. You?

Emily: I want to go work for a fashion magazine in London…I wish I could say I was doing something worthwhile like you, instead of finding the new trends in jeans.

Emily’s mention of London leads Jordan to ask about her previous travel experience. She tells him about her year off between boarding school and Harvard, which she spent in Paris and backpacking in Kenya.

The conversation flows back into standard first date fodder when Emily asks about his intersession trip to Tulsa, OK, to visit a friend.

Emily: How was Tulsa?

Jordan: Lots of Wal-Marts. There’s even a Super Wal-Mart, where you can get everything: groceries, guns…

Emily: Oh. Wow.

Looking for something to do, Jordan offers Emily a tofu tile.

Emily: Oh, I’m fine, thank you. Chicken puff?

Jordan: Uh (laughs). They have……them.

Seizing the opportunity to learn something new, Emily asks about the details of being vegan.

Emily: So, what’s your qualm about milk and eggs?

Jordan: It mostly has to do with the state of the dairy industry. They separate cows from their calves right after birth, and you can hear the mothers and calves crying for each other…It’s a very invasive industry that forces cows to be constantly pregnant.

Emily: That is a very sad story.

Jordan: Yeah, I was in a kibbutz in Israel this summer near a dairy farm and there were baby calves who had this oral fixation and who would suck on your finger for a long time because they longed for their mothers.

Emily bites her lip and eats some chicken.

Emily: Did you go to the Pudding parade?

Jordan: No, I had to cook for 40 people.

Emily: Is that for Dudley?

Jordan nods and smiles, then asks her if she enjoyed the Pudding festivities, which she says she did. Emily confesses that she loved when Sarah Jessica Parker was in town for last year’s Roast, leading the pair to bond over their mutual fondness of “Sex and the City.”

Emily: I feel like boys secretly like it…but it’s funny, my parents always walk in on the sexy parts.

Jordan: Yeah…like the episode with female ejaculation.

Emily: Yes! My dad walked in right when they were talking about that!

Emily encourages Jordan to try her pad thai.  He politely reminds her that it contains shrimp and chicken, lest Emily forget about the weeping calves. Emily steers the conversation away from bovine torture.

The conversation warms when Jordan talks about his sister’s job in the fashion industry, piquing Emily’s interest. She’s even more interested in Jordan’s sister’s dog, confessing a love for dogs and a secret wish to have a puppy in Currier House.

Jordan: That would be a little hard, since dogs need space to run around.

Emily: Well, Currier has a little courtyard…

Still, Emily knows in her heart that the plan isn’t feasible, based on her experience with a St. Bernard in a New York City apartment.

Perhaps because orally-fixated calves are a hard image to shake, Emily steers conversation back to Jordan’s vegan lifestyle.

Emily: So, I feel like vegans are converters. Like, they’re out to get people to join them, or you get bonus points for conversion.

Jordan: Yeah, I’ve converted a few.

Emily: So, what you’re saying is that it’s a cult. (giggles)

Jordan laughs.

Emily: Seriously, though, in principle, what if there was a farm that treated its animals well? Would you drink milk then?

Jordan: Hmm...I guess because there’s no way to do it humanely, I can’t picture it. But I guess I could eat eggs more than milk. It’s easier to get those humanely.

Emily: In other words, you’re open to the possibility. Interesting.

Jordan: Oh, yeah, I’m open. I miss cheese. I haven’t had pizza in two years. Soy cheese is like plastic.

Emily: So, what are you doing later tonight?

Jordan: I have a birthday party for a friend later on…and yourself?

Emily: I was thinking about going out, maybe a final club…which is probably silly. I’ve made a pledge every year to go into Boston more, but I just get lost there. I don’t go across a certain perimeter.

Venu A. Nadella and Andrew R. Suggs

Andrew strolls into Spice with an air of chilled-out expectancy. His piercings are many, and his artsy, punk, black t-shirt and jeans getup screams VES. As his blind date later reports, upon first seeing Andrew, he “thought of Campbell’s Soup—‘mmm mmm good.’” Restaurantgoers are similarly impressed; one asked the photographer whether Andrew was the porn star featured in FM last week. This poetry-loving, southern-bred Leverett House sophomore has agreed to go on a blind date with a gentleman of FM’s choosing. The stakes are high, and the potential for disaster rather large, but at least he gets a free meal out of it.

Venu saunters in fifteen minutes later, sporting a tan leather jacket and a Euro-chic haircut. As it turns out, the two have met before. After all, as Venu asks rhetorically, “Can a date really be blind when you’re gay at Harvard?” They greet each other with affected relief, and a waitress guides the pair to an “intimate” table for two, under the gaze of a camera and reporters.

The two fall into predictable conversation patterns. Topic A: favorite movies. Topic B: long term aspirations. When silence gets the better of them, they look across the reporters’ table to the other couple involved in FM’s little experiment.

Andrew: What if we want to talk to the other couple?

Venu: I could dig a girl. Why not?

Andrew reveals that he was secretly hoping for a date with a girl. The banter takes a turn for the intimate. Andrew brings up the classic relationship dilemma, “Marry, Kill, Do,” also known as “Do, Dump or Marry.”

Andrew: You pick three people and say one of those things for each one.

Venu: What about me?

Andrew: Well, I’d marry Will [Adams, FM Associate Editor], because I know him…and I’d do you.

Venu: Oh! That can be arranged.

The conversation turns to hedonistic pursuits.

Andrew: What do I do for fun? I guess I get drunk a lot. Study and beer.

Venu: I joined Kuumba this year. So, besides getting drunk…Oh, do you get drunk, or just drink?

Andrew: I get drunk, pass out mostly…Last night, I apparently danced with a lot of girls aggressively. Inappropriately.

Venu: Well, you’re allowed, right?

Andrew: Yeah, but I was touching them. Not allowed at Quad parties, apparently.

Venu: I touch girls all the time. I jiggle girls’ breasts all the time. They’re my friends, though. (Pause). At least, I hope so.

The two continue to discuss beer, a beverage untapped by Venu:

Venu: I feel so innocent. Like, I’ve never tried any of this stuff.

Andrew: You’ll grow up.

Andrew: So, what do you think about BGLTSA?

Venu: Honestly, I don’t think you guys do anything. I mean, when I first came out, I was like, cool! But now, whatever. You don’t do any political action stuff.

Andrew: We do, though, we really do.

Venu: Well, maybe you should publicize what you do do more. What’s your position on the board again?

Andrew: Publicity chair.

The two wax philosophical on love, dating and the hallowed notion of “the fuck buddy.”

Venu: Can you really be physical with someone without emotional attachment?

Andrew: Yeah.

Venu: Oh.

Andrew: I may be more promiscuous than the average person, but I ain’t a ho, okay? I ain’t a ho. Some may beg to differ.

Once again, silence pushes them in the direction of couple number two.

Venu: I wonder if it’s going well. Sparks may fly! Well, maybe for us too…

Andrew: Ha.

Venu: Can you imagine if it did? Can you imagine telling this story of how we met to our grandkids?

The M-word arises.

Venu: Would you get married if you could?

Andrew: I don’t know. Maybe for tax purposes, or some other practical reason...I don’t really have romantic ideals. I can’t see myself being with one person for the rest of my life.

Nearly done with his cashew chicken, Venu returns to the salient topic of the evening: random hookups.

Venu: Sooo…those people you did stuff with but didn’t keep in touch with: how did you meet them? How does it work? Teach me, Andrew, teach me! [Gestures wildly.]

Andrew: Well, once I met this guy. I started hanging out in his room, and then one day he came out to me…

Venu: It was all you. You motivated him. You should put that on your resume.

Andrew: [laughs].

Venu: Special skills.

The dinner comes to an unceremonious end. Before heading out to their respective rooms, Venu insists to FM, “We’re going to have sex…Call me. Oh, I guess I should be saying that to my date.” Despite valiant efforts on both parts, the post-date wrap-up reveals a mutual reluctance toward the next step. “Maybe we’re a bit different as people,” Venu notes astutely. “He’s more like the artsy, punky boy, and I’m more into social causes—more European.”

For his part, Andrew says he “doesn’t really want to date anyone right now.” But, he admits, “Venu definitely has the European appeal.”