Or, should I say, potential inagural classmates. Overall, they picked people who clearly had some research experience. There were only a few kids still enrolled as undergrads even at the interview. "Oh, I'm also interviewing at Harvard and MIT," I heard from more than one kid. Ah, to be among the bright young thinkers of the day. Most were just fine.
The car service picked me up, and the driver says, "Ok Sir, Where we go? Airport?". He was serious. I'm like, "uh, you're the driver, aren't you supposed to know?". Eventually I give him the address from my paperwork and he takes off - in the wrong direction. Eventually we pick up the other interviewee, who's pretty green, living back at home with mom and dad. He tries to be Mr. Cool and says, "well, I'm going read up on my interviewers," pulls out a folder obviously removed from his Mead Trapper Keeper that's filled with ink-jet print outs from the website bios. Please note, these are at least 3 years out of date. I reply with, "oh, good idea," and pull out a boring manilla folder and study the journal articles I printed out. He gulps.
After checking into the hotel, and barely finding my room because the hallway is so damn dark, I chill, read, and then head downstairs to walk to the reception. Ahead of me on the street are 2 guys dressed up, carrying messenger bags and obviously heading to the same place I am. The one on the left has high-water slacks on, with white socks. I'm looking over my shoulder for Carson Kressley to jump out of a black SUV and pummel him. Unfortunately, he makes it to the reception unscathed.
Later, I realize I'm chatting with Mr. White Socks, and he's actually a pretty nice guy. If we become friends, I mentally note to advise him to buy longer pants and darker socks.
Fast Forward to the dinner after the play, everyone has come in out of the cold wind and is waiting in the bar before we sit down. Mr. White Socks is again wearing too-short trousers and white socks - this was his interview outfit, I learn, which he borrowed from a friend. So someone else is giving him bad fashion advice, poor guy. I get a drink, and somehow end up talking to two guys I hadn't really spoken to thus far in the process. One guy, we'll call him Mr. Naive, asks me what's in a martini. I tell him it's either gin or vodka, plus a little bit of vermouth and maybe an olive or two. "Is that good?" he asks. I prevent myself from laughing in his face and explain that some people find them delicious. His story? He lives at home with mom and dad, doesn't know what he's going to be doing for the next 6 months except chillin' and moochin' and eating milk and cookies in Maryland. Best of luck with that.
Then I turn my attention to the other guy. The only thing I know about him is that he's from Columbus, Ohio. He complains that he needs a scarf because his dress coat has a large open V-shaped area around the neck. "Nobody bought you a nice scarf to go with your fancy new coat?" I said directly to him, quickly realizing I haven't eaten in a long time and 3 sips of vodka work quickly. He presses the other people in the circle about their stories, and everyone obliges nicely, I even give him a 30 second bio on myself.
Then I stop him and say, "so what's your story, where did you go to school?"
"Oh, well I'm a senior at Ohio State University and I'm studying..."
"Woah, woah, woah woah, woah.... don't you mean, THE Ohio State University?"
"Well, actually, yes I do mean THE Ohio State University but I didn't want to seem arrogant and pretentious."
At this point I am forced to close my eyes to prevent anyone from seeing how hard I'm rolling them.
"Okay, well that's smart, so, did you have any friends in the Hitler Youth... I mean, the Marching Band?"
"Oh yes, my best friend dotted the i...."
Eventually he turns the topic to his work and spews forth an obviously prepared statement until I stop him yet again and say simply, "Hey, wait, look. We're in a bar, chill out. You don't need to bring your A game tonight." His jaw drops open. I am saved by the hostess, who seats us at that moment, bless her heart. He chose to sit at a different table than me. Go figure.