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The Poison Ivy League Part 37-Goodbye to All That

May 3, 2011

The debate year concluded with an unexpected surprise for Kimel when he and Scipio were named the top speakers in the tryouts for the annual Triangular Tournament with Yale and Princeton. Scipio had spoken on the topic of reparations to African Americans, and Kimel on the subject of whether patent laws on drugs should be allowed to be broken in sub-Saharan Africa, one of Jason’s cases. Kimel planned to use the cash prize to actualize a life-long ambition and take a trip through Egypt from Alexandria to Abu Simbel. As a boy, his Israeli family had refused to take him any farther than St. Catherine’s Verginiastery in the Sinai, habituated by warfare to fear their neighbors. Whatever the case, Kimel paid dearly for his victory when he and two others were sent all the way to Princeton and back in a single day for the honor of losing a round to their rivals.

The new debate board competently ran Triangulars and the in-house “Incest Fest” tournament. The two events were signals that the school year was all but over. Before long, Kimel bid goodbye to a host of characters who had been his constant companions for two years running—Scipio, Fabius, Cynthia, Trimalchio, and Messalina.

Cynthia, the Comp Director who had nurtured Scott, Horatius, and Sulla C, was returning to Singapore and about to embark on the challenges of a long distance relationship with her boyfriend, a former debater. Kimel would miss her sweet disposition and passion for gossip. As for Trimalchio, despite their differences the previous year, Kimel respected him for his great improvement as a speaker over the course of his career and, perhaps more importantly, for his former performance as Treasurer, when his foresight resulted in the creation of a computer tabulation program that ensured his legacy on APDA. Both Cynthia and Trimalchio would go on to great things, the former in the Singaporean Government, and the latter in the business world. Scipio would be close by next year as a graduate student at Harvard, where Messalina would be studying law. For his part, Fabius was off to Cornell Law School.

Kimel realized that the graduation of Scipio and Fabius, 2004’s National Champions, would be a great loss for HSPDS and APDA in general. Scipio had been a decisive President who prided himself on his approachability and fair-mindedness. Since his junior year, all eyes had been upon him as the spiritual leader of the team. By the end of his career, he had learned to channel his great intelligence into a compelling in-round persona, and while he was less eloquent than Fabius, his wisdom alone served as a garnish to his orations effective enough to make them positively savory. One of those men devoted to the company of women, he seemed to love Aemilia entirely, and the warmth of their relationship combined with their easy-going natures was attractive to all who knew them—they were the rare couple that was rarely cloying in their affections, but that made their affections clear nonetheless. Scipio’s only vices were nepotism and occasional self-importance, comparatively mild failings that, far from diminishing his character, served only to enrich it by complicating it. His sincerity proved to be an able match for Fabius’s drama as a friend and debate partner and Sulla A’s ruthless single-mindedness as his Presidential successor.

As for Fabius, Kimel had at least since Fordham come to count him among his inner circle of friends, and he realized that he was losing not only a comrade, but a role-model. Fabius was at bottom a complicated figure, but one who always seemed optimistic and witty to onlookers. This was a man who knew how to wear a mask with style and flair. Arianna’s quiet dignity but equal vivaciousness might have complimented his character well as a lover. Instead, he persisted in a long relationship with Messalina that finally ended upon their graduation. Kimel considered Messalina a magnificent young woman in many ways, ruthlessly intelligent and outspoken, one of those rare people blessed with an indelible character that nothing could serve to conceal. In her public and private affairs alike, she was a soul that the spotlight seemed to follow. Along with Vergil, she was also one of the greatest competitors of the season, and Kimel regretted that she had no title or specific victory to encapsulate her success. APDA would be a less interesting place without her. Together, she and Fabius likely enjoyed one of the most heated relationships in the circuit’s history—no easy alliance of like-minds, but an ongoing contest of giant personalities.

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