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The Poison Ivy League Part 26-Trimalchio and Jason

May 3, 2011

With Harvard A and B increasingly in the spotlight, Trimalchio and Cynthia were kept lurking in shadows on APDA. Cynthia never attended enough tournaments to become really dominant in rounds. Debate was a leisure-activity for her, and she was ultimately more interested in gossip and friendship than plastic awards. But Trimalchio was a creature of a different sort. He didn’t begin with much success at debate, but by sheer practice gradually became more and more eloquent and sure of himself. As his hurt feelings when Kimel had partnered with him the previous year showed, however, he was still touchy about his reputation. He wanted so much to excel, and it was so difficult for him.

Unsuccessful in rounds, Trimalchio had devoted considerable energy toward being a dedicated Treasurer the previous year, and was likely one of the best ever on the Harvard team. The computer tabulation program that he sponsored meant the difference between financial solvency and bankruptcy in many of the lean days ahead, and is to this day used by schools across the country. Trimalchio even initiated a T-shirt sale which, while unsuccessful in its first year due to an ultra-violent design chosen by Jason, became quite lucrative when the team made use of the Harvard logo instead, probably breaking copyright law. There was little wonder Trimalchio knew so much about money. His teammates were taken off-guard when he showed off an original Andy Warhol painting in one of his parents’ houses in New York.

At December’s MIT tournament, the team was out in full force, as usual for that occasion. Two pairings from Harvard broke to quarterfinals: Scipio and Fabius were one, and Trimalchio and Jason the other, to Trimalchio’s delight. Messalina and Alexander also broke to quarter-finals, as did Sulla A’s former girlfriend, Metella. She and Lucan were the South’s “it couple,” for the moment. Metella was partnered with Sappho, another junior from Swarthmore and the single most intelligent person Kimel ever saw to speak on APDA. Were debate a completely analytical activity divorced from tricks, strategy, and emotion, Sappho would likely have become even more famous than the legendary Brian Fletcher. Her speeches were like long lists of insightful points elegantly but off-handedly presented. Charming and erudite in and out of rounds, she never spoke badly of anyone. She was seldom quite aggressive or cocky enough to advance far into out-rounds, though.

Amherst and Swarthmore fell in quarter-finals, and Harvard A in semis. Jason and Trimalchio made it all the way to finals and lost to a team from Yale led by Tertius’s frequent partner, Hirtius. This was the second year in a row that Harvard lost to Yale in the finals of MIT. Of course, Yale’s roster had seen itself sadly depleted since the days of Germanicus and Livia and Tiberius. At the Brown tournament, which again included a musical written by Gracchus, one of the lyrics had tellingly been “Put Hirtius on a plane and Tertius on a bus.” Yale’s victory at MIT doubtless meant a lot to the team, which fielded not one pairing in the top ten TOTY that year. As for Trimalchio, he was so carried away by his success that he hardly minded losing the final round. He began to partner with Jason more frequently in hopes of more good things. Sadly, MIT finals would be both the beginning and the beginning of the end of his career at the top. He eventually became more notorious for his unreciprocrated crush on Arianna than for winning rounds. Jason, however, was on a roll, and would go on to win so many speaker awards at upcoming tournaments that he would end the year as Harvard’s only speaker in the top ten SOTY race at tenth place, just ahead of Trajan at eleventh.

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