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The Poison Ivy League Part 34-Explosion at the Clark Tournament

May 3, 2011

The 2003-2004 debate season was winding to a close. At the end of March, neither Kimel nor any of his classmates qualified for outrounds at the Yale tournament, which, like Princeton before it, was run a bit differently from normal competitions. Teams were forced to debate specific topics rather than subjects of their own choosing. The tournament was notable for being a rare instance of a speaker without a partner carrying the day. Iulia and Vergil had both broken to outrounds, but Iulia was called away on an emergency, leaving Vergil to iron-man, or debate alone. He proceeded to single-handedly triumph over his opponents, no small accomplishment. In the final round, the openly gay speaker memorably defended the concept of same-sex marriage. In doing so, he spoke to the sympathies of the room; one of APDA’s strengths as a community was its general tolerance for sexual diversity.

Kimel began to wonder with whom he would debate at Nationals. The Sullas would be partnered together, of course, and Fabius was debating with Scipio. Trimalchio had long since seized Jason. As he considered the possibility of being shut out from the cream of the crop, Kimel began to worry for the first time about the shape of the upcoming season. Josephus was already talking about the possibility of embarking on a TOTY run with Jason. If that partnership came to pass, Kimel worried that he would be left in the same position as Cassius, who was shut out from MIT A his senior year. The wild card in all of this was Petronius, who was extremely talented and might make for a strong consistent partner. He had a wonderful way of laughing through his speeches, chuckling so heartily at his opponent’s points that judges were often charmed into dismissing them more readily than they should have. Moving quickly to beat Josephus to the punch, Kimel made plans to debate with Petronius at Nationals as a test run to see how they might fair together as a team.

The final tournament that Harvard attended before Nationals was Clark College. Kimel was partnered with Scott and eager to take his friend to finals. In fact, they won all five of their in-rounds and advanced to semi-finals as the top-seed. They then disappointingly lost to a team from Bates dominated by a man with a thick East Indian accent. Bates ran the case against them that felons should be allowed to vote, and Kimel unwisely called it tight, or inherently undebatable because the Government’s position was simply cprrect.

Fabius and Messalina were by now approaching the end of their relationship and seemed by all accounts to be on-again off-again. Matters between them came to a very public boiling point at Clark when Fabius, partnered with Arianna, proceeded to defeat Messalina and Melissa in a round. Messalina soon fell into a heated argument with Fabius, or rather seemed to hope to provoke one. She began discussing matters like their comparative success on standardized tests like the LSATs, and at one point she hurled a piece of jewelry in his direction, just barely missing his head. It broke to pieces on the floor to the obvious bewilderment of the Clark team.

Matters reached a crescendo when Messalina threatened to confront Fabius’s “debate girlfriend.” Who could this person be? Melissa promptly provided the answer. She infamously screamed, “Somebody stop her, she’s going to be mean to Arianna!” revealing that Fabius and she had been a brief item. Eventually, Fabius and Messalina reconciled, for the moment. The subsequent situation must have been painfully awkward for Arianna, a girl of high standards who seldom entangled herself in relationships.

For her part, Melissa became immortalized on the Harvard team with her inadvertent revelation. Clark proved to be one of her last tournaments. Disgusted with the social and competitive atmosphere of APDA and the Amherst team in particular, she abandoned the circuit, fulfilling of her own free will Messalina’s prophesy at the previous year’s Wellesley tournament that she would never break.

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