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The Poison Ivy League Part 25-Fabius at Fordham

May 3, 2011

Kimel admired Fabius, appreciating his wit and sassy energy in rounds. Thinking about the former Tournament Director’s chronic talkativeness and the weight of his opinions on the team, to say nothing of the chance of success in outrounds, Kimel realized what a good idea it would be to partner with him. If he showed himself to be skilled to Fabius and made a splash with a good performance, it might lead to positive buzz among people who mattered and greater success on the circuit. Fabius was immensely popular and knew more people on APDA than anyone else on the team. He had just narrowly lost the election for the APDA Presidency the previous year, largely due to lack of support from Livia and Tiberius, or so rumor had it. Now, he was not so serious about his TOTY race with Scipio that he denied Kimel the chance to be his partner at least once. At the very least, Fabius knew that he would be given new ammunition for his mimicry.

Kimel agreed that Fabius could be Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition, even though these were his usual positions. The exception was when they ran Kimel’s cases; then, Fabius allowed his younger partner to be Prime Minister. Kimel learned a great deal by paying close attention to Fabius’s rapport with judges. It became clear that the best speeches, those that won rounds, were sensitive to subtle reactions from the audience that were easy to ignore if a speaker was too focused on himself. Points that the judges seemed to find interesting needed be dwelled upon without exhausting the issue. Fabius was very good at doing this and simultaneoussly bringing a sense of charming irreverence into his speeches. At the same time, while Kimel learned from him, Fabius was impressed that his partner was in fact a strong, logical thinker with a unique ability to summarize important issues intuitively. Fabius gossiped to others about his surprise on this front, as Kimel had foreseen and hoped.

As confident as Fabius seemed in rounds, this did not carry over into downtime between them, which was always occupied by Messalina. She would often get angry with him when she wasn’t successful, and he patiently endured her tears, complaints, and even fists and teeth, all before the eyes of entire rooms of debaters. Perhaps Messalina was annoyed by the fact that try as Fabius might, it was clear he thought himself a better debater than she was, and at the very least, cared much more about his success than her insecurities. He probably denied this many times to her, but his smugness when he won debates just couldn’t be concealed. By the time of the third round, they were having one of their fights again. Messalina pushed him away and stormed out of the general assembly room. Fabius was slouched over with what might have been sorrow, boredom, or a combination of the two. He promptly lit up, however, when he began imitating a diminutive girl on the Fordham team. The poor thing pronounced her Rs as Ws, so there was wide scope for his humor.

Fabius and Kimel just squeezed into out-rounds and were pitted against Princeton C. Seneca and Lucan ran the case against them that records obtained from Nazi doctors and scientists should have been published in conventional medical journals. While Fabius had outperformed Kimel in many of the in-rounds, here the younger competitor excelled on Opposition. He said that the results of the experiments could be published elsewhere in special volumes devoted to their content. Being intrinsically offensive, they by no means belonged alongside legitimate research that adhered to ethical standards. Would a journal publish an article known to be plagiarized, Kimel asked, even if its contents were interesting and important? Of course not. Ethical standards exist in the world of medical journals due to the very nature of scientific research.

Kimel and Fabius outperformed their opponents in every way that round. Lucan completely ignored the plagiarism argument, and Seneca’s speech was uncharacteristically unfocused and repetitious. When Kimel and Fabius learned that they’d lost the round on a 2-1 decision, they were both very dejected, particularly Kimel, seemingly condemned to losing early outrounds. For the record, Princeton C later lost the tournament to Vergil from NYU, who was debating with his friend, Maria, by no means as effective a speaker as he was. Princeton B had fallen in semi-finals and might have been even more pleased than Vergil with the result of the final round.

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