Rants and Rehearsals

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t been writing as much for the Harbus this semester as I did last year. Some of you may not have noticed or cared, and many of you are probably relieved (particularly the boys from the rugby team). However, I do feel that I have been neglecting my faithful readership somewhat, and so this article I hope will serve as part explanation and part peace offering. Enjoy.

The HBS Show and Job Titles
So, the reason that recent Harbuses (Harbi..?) have lacked my usual scribblings is that much of my time and creative energy has been going into the HBS Show, for which I am performing the honorable function of Assistant Director. Notice the important distinction from Director’s Assistant. This means a lot to me. The latter is merely a glorified PA role involving fetching, carrying, and printing scripts, whereas as Assistant Director I am occasionally allowed to suggest creative changes for everyone to ridicule and ignore. Sigh. Such is the business of show.

Lack of section norms in EC year
Back in RC year we had section norms. We had meetings about section norms. We had long email discussions about section norms, and we had whole-section meetings on whether we should have meetings about section norms. We knew where we were. We understood each other. There were distinct and recognizable cues for clapping, cheering, whooping and stamping of feet. We were, to use a terrible cliché, on the same page.

Not so in EC year. Segregated as we are by interest in a particular topic rather than by the all-knowing Section Allocation Algorithm, we no longer have any framework for what constitutes acceptable behaviour.

The result of this anarchy? I tell the guy next to me who keeps waving his namecard to stop messing around. People only manage stuttering half-applause when someone with a visitor makes a comment. The sound of knuckles rapping on the desk does not induce the guy at the back mumbling quietly to speak up. Everyone stares at me when I get out the tequila, salt and limes for the traditional “First Friday Morning Cold Call Body Shot” (OK, maybe that was just a Section J thing).

Community Values are just no substitute. Sorry Mr. Badaracco.

People in Yoga Class
There are two kinds of people in my yoga class that really irritate the heck out of me. One is The Breather. This person has heard that yoga is all about ‘The Breath’. They have taken this information to heart. They appear to think that what this means is that they must spend the entire class snorting, sighing and generally sounding like Lucifer with a severe cold, after smoking four packs of cigarettes and doing an impression of a heaving breathing prank caller. This is not pleasant.

Equally annoying, but for different reasons, are the Yoga Chic girls. These girls wear designer matching yoga pants and a top that is more revealing than many women’s bras, usually in baby pink. They wear their hair artfully tousled and have full makeup on for the whole class, which somehow never sweats off. They will lean over while in the lotus position to reapply their lipgloss. They always beat me to the spot in the studio furthest away from The Breather. I hate them.

Anti-smoking invective
Yes, smoking is unhealthy, expensive and can endanger others as well as yourself. It is also often smelly and unpleasant for other people. You know what else fits those criteria? Drinking alcohol, snowboarding, playing rugby, climbing big mountains and having children, to name a few, and for some reason I’m not allowed to be mean to people who do any of those things.

Smokers are already punished by being forced to stand outside in the fresh air at parties and to enjoy conversations with likeminded people away from all the noise (OK, its not as good as it sounds. Not with Boston weather).

Please stop telling us to quit. We know.

People who laugh inappropriately loudly to prove that they got the joke
I first recognized this phenomenon when the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’ was released (I was in undergrad at the time) and I had the misfortune to go and see it at the same time as a bunch of English Lit majors who insisted on braying with forced laughter every time an obscure literary joke was made about Ben Jonson liking blood or Christopher Marlowe having secretly given Shakespeare all of his ideas. They couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else in the theatre thinking that They Didn’t Get It.

Now, even more distressingly, I see it in class. Someone makes a vaguely humorous reference to a political figure (9/10 times it’s George Bush) or a topical news event (9/10 times it’s Eliot Spitzer) and everyone who is actually listening laughs their head off to prove how up-to-the-minute they are with current affairs.

Do you realize that by doing so you are giving the people making these tired cultural references the impression that they are funny? This will not end well.

People who complain about the extraordinary volume, inaccuracy and stickiness of HBS gossip
To you I shall quote Oscar Wilde:
“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Plus, if you don’t want to be gossiped about, don’t start making out with a sectionmate in the middle of a dancefloor at an HBS party. And if you do, don’t post the pictures on Facebook.

April 14, 2008
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