My name is Leslie. Not really. I am from Dobbs Ferry, NY (a town chosen for its obscurity). I’m torn between Harvard and Yale, and I want to study math.
It’s important to be creative with one’s prefrosh persona. Mine has been carefully crafted in advance. Starry-eyed Leslie O’Shea is as far from my urban, Visual and Environmental Science, Yale-deferred self as possible. But I kinda like her.
For one thing, she gets way more action. As a prefrosh, I’m receiving more male attention than in my entire freshman year. Right now I’m getting a hug from Mark. My research assistant Lauren E. Berk ’06 (’07 for tonight) and I had approached him and two of his friends, who immediately welcomed us to their table in Loker. Mark is biding his time: he wants to arrive “fashionably late” for the ice cream bash. I share my dual-school dilemma with the group. Anne strongly endorses Harvard, then admonishes me for not getting the “Yale: Harvard for Dummies” T-shirt, saying, “You’ll need it when you go to Harvard.” We engage in some Sarah Hughes gossip, seemingly a popular pastime among the incoming class. Figuring what the hell, I claim to have had a Hughes sighting this morning. Mark is impressed, but Anne cynically sniffs, “I don’t care.”
We join the line outside Annenberg for the ice cream bash. This is a line of epic proportions. I want to warn the masses that ‘Berg ice cream isn’t worth it, but fear it would give me away. We approach two girls, Anoushka and Becca, and exchange the standard “Where are you from? Where are you staying?” dialogue. I tell them I’m “staying” in Matthews. Little do they know I’ve been “staying” there for eight months. With a puzzled look, Becca asks if Matthews is in the Yard. We move on.
Further ahead in the line is a guy with a name tag. “Imram,” I say smoothly, “how have you been since I saw you last?” Imram takes this in stride, considering he’s never seen me in his life. Pretty soon, we’re catching up like…people who have actually met before. Imram regales us with his astute observations and up-to-the-minute Harvard knowledge. “That guy Dean Kirby, I heard he got kicked out. The new dean is Dean Gross.” He’s a regular Tom Brokaw. He goes on to point out the startling resemblance Annenberg has to Hogwarts from Harry Potter. I am stunned by this comparison, or rather my alter ego Leslie is. “Wow, you’re right! That’s so wild!” she replies. Inwardly, I’m cringing. Imram also knows a kid in a dorm called “Wiggleworm House.” That’s so wild, we agree in chorus.
Finally—blessedly—we’re at the ice cream. A prefrosh is scooping, and seemingly trying to pick up each girl by giving her scooping tips. A representative piece of advice is, “Go for the side, it’s softer that way.” I compliment him on his arm definition and ask where he learned these skills. Modestly, he chalks it up to life experience and “common sense.” While two excited prefrosh bust out their moves on an Annenberg table, we wander aimlessly through the dining hall, eventually settling on a table in the back.
As much as I want to mock the prefrosh, there’s something about their friendliness, the wide-eyed quality they have. It’s nice to be around people who are enthusiastically discussing their favorite books and what they want to study, rather than griping about Quantitative Reasoning requirements and unintelligible teaching fellows. It doesn’t hurt that Matt wants to major in English and is gushing about F. Scott Fitzgerald. “You have to love Gatsby,” he says with the authority only a prefrosh can muster. “Everyone loves Gatsby.” At the other end of the table, Leila brazenly announces that she doesn’t love Gatsby. As Matt jokingly makes the devil-sign at her, Leila expounds on what she does love: Bluebell brand ice cream. ‘Berg’s stacks up O.K., but, “You know, I’m just really partial to Bluebell.” As yet another smitten girl approaches Matt with more than Gatsby on her mind, we decide to move—straight into the clutches of the deadly Andy.
Andy is nothing if not confident. His ambition is “to be the next Pope.” In case we don’t understand the Catholic hierarchy, he uses hand gestures to indicate that “God is here” (upraised left fist) “and the Pope is here” (right fist held an inch or two below). Lauren asks about the celibacy thing. “I’m going to change that,” he tells us, explaining his intention to marry a woman while Pope. What if the Catholics don’t go for that? Andy is once again armed with logic. “If I’m the Pope, they can’t kill me,” he reasons. Hmm, most competitive class in history? I don’t know about that.
Thankfully, the talk turns away from Andy’s clerical plans and back to me. “I’m all about the math. And physics,” I tell him as Lauren muffles her laughter.
We then discuss summer plans. Lauren, my fellow infiltrator, shows a remarkable talent for improvisation and says she’s going to live on the beach, in a tent. It’s a living experiment. Following suit, I announce that I am doing a photo essay about her and her tent life. Andy swallows this story whole. I suppose he’s heard stranger things this weekend.
It’s time to leave—all this ambition is beginning to grate on me. We bid Andy goodbye and wish him good luck in his plan to scale the Catholic career ladder. “Speaking of Catholic,” he tells us, “my host said there will be a party tonight where girls dress up like Catholic schoolgirls and party like you’ve never seen.” It is now officially time to leave. We bid goodbye to Pius ’07, along with our peppy prefrosh personas. Math-loving Leslie O’Shea has been good to me, but I’ll have to put her on the shelf—at least until next year.