The fear of the unknown
The third cocktail probably had the desired effect. Eduardo could not say exactly because he had tipped the three drinks - the empty plastic cups were now piled in accordion-like fashion on the windowsill behind him - so quickly that he could not tell when the change had occurred. But she had undoubtedly entered, he could feel it on his body, from head to toe. The pleasantly warm blood circulation in his otherwise pale cheeks; the relaxed, almost rubbery manner in which he leaned against the window - it was in stark contrast to his usual stiff, slightly hunched posture; and most importantly: the easy smile on his face - that was what he had before tonight for two hours without success Spiegel practiced before leaving his dorm room. Without a doubt, the alcohol worked and Eduardo was no longer afraid. At least not the overwhelming urge to piss off here as quickly as possible.
Granted, the room he looked into was intimidating: an enormous crystal chandelier hung from the domed cathedral ceiling; thick, red velor carpet seemed to bleed out of the majestic mahogany paneling; A two-part staircase snaked up to the legendary, winding, ultra-secret upper floors. Even the window panes behind Eduardo's head looked creepy, behind them an angry bonfire flickering that took up most of the outside courtyard. Twitching flames licked the old, pockmarked windows. It was a terrifying place, especially for a boy like Eduardo. He hadn't grown up in poverty by any means - for most of his childhood he'd been flown between the upper-middle class milieus of Brazil and Miami before enrolling at Harvard.
A question of self-confidence
But the ancient East Coast opulence that exuded this room was completely alien to him. Despite the alcohol, Eduardo felt the uncertainty rumbling deep in his stomach. He felt like a freshman again, walking into Harvard Yard for the first time and wondering what the hell he was doing there and if he could ever belong there. Can he ever belong here? He pushed along the window sill and peered into the crowd of young men who filled most of the vault. It was more of a pack; huddled together at the two bars that had been set up especially for that evening. The bars themselves were rather shabby - wooden tables, little more than countertops that didn't match the venerable ambience at all - but no one took any notice, as the bars were occupied by the only girls in the room: uniformly busty blondes in low-cut tops who had been brought in from one of the local girls' colleges to serve the pack of young men. The pack was in many ways even more terrifying than the building. Eduardo wasn't sure, but he guessed they were about two hundred - all male, all in similar dark blazers and equally dark trousers. Mostly in their sophomore year, ethnically mixed, and yet their faces all had something in common - a smile that seemed so much more informal than Eduardo's, two hundred pairs of eyes full of confidence:
These guys weren't used to having to prove themselves. You belonged here. For most of them, this party - and this place - was just a formality. Eduardo took a deep breath and a sharp taste made him start slightly. The ashes of the fire in the courtyard were already seeping through the window and yet he did not let go of his lurking position at the windowsill, not yet. He wasn't ready yet. Instead, he turned his attention to the closest group of blazers - four guys of medium stature. He didn't know any of them from any of his courses; two of the boys were blonde and neat looking like they'd just got off a Connecticut train. The third was an Asian and looked a bit older, but that was hard to tell. The fourth, however - African American, very slick, from a smile to perfectly coiffed hair - was definitely in his fourth year, a senior. Eduardo felt his back stiffen and he glanced at the black student's tie. The color of the fabric was the last clue Eduardo needed. The guy was a senior and it was finally Eduardo's turn. Eduardo pulled his shoulders back and pushed himself away from the windowsill. He nodded to the two Connecticut boys and the Asian, though his gaze remained fixed on the older man - on him and his black tie with the distinctive pattern. "Eduardo Saverin." Eduardo introduced himself by shaking the guy's hand vigorously. "I am pleased to meet you."
In the club of the successful
The guy gave his name, which Eduardo filed in the depths of his mind: Darron so and so. The guy's name didn't matter, the tie said everything Eduardo needed to know. The aim and purpose of this whole evening was in the little white birds with which the black fabric was sprinkled. The tie identified the person wearing it as a member of the Phoenix-S K; he was one of the twenty or so hosts that evening who had mingled with the two hundred younger students. “Saverin. You're the one with the hedge fund, aren't you? ”Eduardo blushed, but inwardly he was thrilled that a Phoenix member knew his name. It was a bit of an exaggeration - he didn't have a hedge fund, he'd only made some money with his brother on financial speculation during the summer vacation - Eduardo had no intention of solving the mistake. If the Phoenix members were talking about him, if what they heard about him impressed them in any way - yes, then maybe he had a chance.
That bold thought made Eduardo's heart beat faster as he tried to tell just enough shit to keep the phoenix interested. More than any exams he had taken in the freshman and sophomore years, this moment would determine his future. Eduardo knew what it meant to be accepted into the Phoenix - for his social status during the last two years of college and for whatever career he might choose. Much like the secret societies at Yale that had been written about so much in the press, the Final Clubs were a blatant secret of Harvard student life. The eight clubs, housed in centuries-old Cambridge mansions, were open only to men and had produced generations of world politicians, financial giants and stock market tycoons. And, what was almost as important, with membership in one of the eight clubs you also got a social identity; each of the clubs had a different character, from the ultra-exclusive Porcellian, the oldest club on campus, whose members had names like Roosevelt or Rockefeller, to the chic Fly Club, which had outgrown two presidents and a handful of billionaires; each of the clubs had its own distinctive kind of power.
Persist as an outsider
The Phoenix was not the most prestigious club, but it was undisputed top in terms of social life; the austere-looking building on 323 Mt. Auburn Street was the go-to address on Friday and Saturday evenings, and as a Phoenix member you not only belonged to a centuries-old network, but also went to the best parties in the whole university on weekends, including the The hottest girls from all schools with the zip code 02138 were invited. "The hedge fund is more of a hobby," Eduardo admitted modestly, and the small group of blazers hung on his lips. “We mainly deal with oil futures. I've always had a bad weather forecast and correctly forecast a few hurricanes that the rest of the market hadn't seen yet. ”Eduardo tried to downplay the obsessive fiddling with which he had tricked the oil market because he realized he was walked a fine line; he knew the Phoenix guy wanted to hear about the three hundred thousand dollars from Eduardo's oil deals, but not about Eduardo's weird interest in meteorology that had made the deals possible. Still Eduardo wanted to show it off a bit; Darron's mention of the "hedge fund" had confirmed Edwardo's suspicion that he had only been allowed into this room because of his early success as a businessman. He really didn't have much else to show, that was clear to him.
He wasn't athletic, had no old family heritage and was certainly not someone who stirs up parties. He was lanky, his arms were a little too long for his body and he could only be really relaxed when drunk. And yet he was here, in this room. A year late - usually you were "punched" in the fall of your second year, not the third year like Eduardo - but he was here. The whole punching procedure came as a surprise to Eduardo. Only two days ago he had been sitting at his desk in his dorm room on a twenty-page paper on a bizarre indigenous people in the Amazon region when an invitation suddenly appeared under his door. It was anything but a ticket to the Land of Dreams - of the two hundred students invited to the first punch party, only twenty would emerge as new Phoenix members - but for Eduardo the moment was as exciting as the one he was had held his Harvard license in his hands. He'd been hoping for a chance to get into one of the clubs since he'd started his studies, and that chance was finally here. Now it was just up to him - and of course the boys with the black bird ties. Each of the four punch parties - one of them this meet-and-greet cocktail night - was a kind of collective interview. After Eduardo and the other guests returned to their respective dormitories, the Phoenix members would meet in one of the secret cabinets on the upper floors to determine the fate of the invitees. After each party, a smaller proportion of those punched would receive the next invitation - and out of the two hundred, twenty would be gradually sifted out.
How to change your life
If Eduardo could manage to be screened, his life would change. And if this required a certain creative "exaggeration" of his summer preoccupation with barometer fluctuations and their effects on oil distribution patterns - well, Eduardo was not too good for a little applied creativity. "The real trick is to turn the three hundred thousand into three million," Eduardo said, grinning. “But that's the beauty of hedge funds. You really have to come up with something. ”He indulged in the gossip with enthusiasm and pulled all of the blazers with him. He had practiced his lab technique at numerous pre-punch parties in his first and second year; now all he had to do was forget that it was no longer a dry run - that it was all about it now.
In his mind, he tried to put himself back at one of the less important parties where he wasn't judged and it wasn't about getting a vital spot on the list. He thought of one in particular that had gone extremely well; a party with the motto »Caribbean« with artificial palms and sand on the floor. He tried to put himself back there, thinking back to the less imposing decor and how easy the conversation had been for him. Instantly he felt even more relaxed, so that he could indulge all the more in his story and the sound of his own voice. He was back at the Caribbean party, he saw every detail. The reggae music echoing off the walls, the pungent sound of steel drums in his ears. The rum-heavy punch, the girls in flowered bikinis.
Types who turn the world upside down: No idea about networking
He even remembered the guy with the frizzy head of hair. Back then, he had stood barely three meters from the point where Eduardo was now standing in a corner, watching Eduardo's efforts, but not daring to do the same and to speak to one of the older Phoenix guys in time. The boy had stayed in his corner; Worse still, his awkwardness was so obstructive and so obvious that it had acted like a force field, like an area around him cut off from the outside world, like a kind of reversed magnetism that had to repel everyone around. A little sympathy had grabbed Eduardo - because he had recognized the guy with the curly hair - and because it was completely out of the question that such a guy would ever be accepted into the Phoenix. A guy like that didn't even have to try to get punched in one of the final clubs - it was completely puzzling what he was doing at this pre-punch party. At Harvard there were plenty of niches for such people: computer rooms, chess clubs, dozens of underground organizations and hobbies, offers for every conceivable form of social inhibition.
At a glance Eduardo had realized that the guy didn't even have the slightest idea about networking, and you just had to know that to get into a club like Phoenix. But on that evening as well, Eduardo was too focused on pursuing his goal to take a closer look at the awkward guy in the corner. He couldn't have known, either that evening or that evening, that one day the curly hair would do the whole thing Concept ABC School Joke Oud of networking would just turn upside down. That the curly hair tormented by the pre-punch party would one day change Eduardo's life more than a final club could ever do.
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German edition: ISBN 9783965965423
English version: ISBN 9783965965430 (Translation notice)
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