Bellinis at breakfast? Check. Coterie of well-heeled and tenaciously
loyal friends? Check. Four-inch heels to section? Double-check.
For Erica S. Birmingham ’06, Harvard is an all-pink, Champagne-drenched party of her own invention. She’s the closest thing Harvard has to a true celebrity: like Paris Hilton, she is known solely for being known.
She’s a character, quite literally. She checks into hotels under the name Rosalind Connage, the debutante from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘This Side of Paradise.’ “When she buys clothes online, she has her parcels delivered to “Duchess Erica Birmingham.”
Sure, there’s a Harvard dweeb in there—she’s writing her thesis on the Latin American drug trade. The girl’s nobody’s fool. But she exudes an effervescent sensibility, all manicured nails, dress-up outfits, and very tall pumps.
Take a typical Thursday night at the Hasty Pudding. Erica stormed in (rather, teetered in) and insisted that everybody tie themselves together with purple ribbon for a drinking game.
Gleefully sipping the champagne she carried in with her, she ordered everyone to play fair—and then winked and ensured that all hell broke loose. “Everyone must be called by the name of someone they’ve hooked up with, punks!” she commanded. “And later, we’re all going out!”
And Erica does go out. “Let’s just say that it’s been Senior Spring for seven semesters,” she said, ever committed to the good life. “Erica decided the best place to enjoy our intoxication one intersession would be the themed restaurant, Jekyll and Hyde,” recalled Sarah G. Heyward ’06. “We spent two hours, at Erica’s request, interacting with creepy cast members and becoming lifetime members of the Jekyll and Hyde club. We were forced to take vows in front of the entire restaurant. Up on stage.”
This, er, magnanimity extends into her personal life. “My friends are the reason I love it here,” said Erica. Her friends can’t get enough of her, either. “Her most remarkable quality is the genuine kindness and loyalty that she shows to her friends and the people around her,” said her blockmate Kate B. Yearwood ’06.
“I should tell you that I balanced work and play,” said Erica, sipping a Kir Royale in Daedalus. Her rabbit stole dropped to her hot pink sequined bag. Erica rolled her expertly lined brown eyes, shrugged, and smiled mischievously. “But no, I’ll be remembered for being polite and having fun. I didn’t take anything too seriously!”
Watch out, Paris. Watch out.