As I’m sure most of you know, Fifteen Minutes magazine recently published an article titled “Fifteen Most Randomly Generated Seniors” in lieu of their annual “Fifteen Most Interesting Seniors” (which, it should be noted, was only first introduced after their annual “Fifteen Hottest Freshman Who, Nonetheless, Will Probably Take A Leave Of Absence At Some Point For Mental Health Reasons” feature drew criticism for including too many ugly students). Now, while I applaud the courageous FM writers for acknowledging that “anyone can be interesting if you ask the right questions— questions such as, “What’s so special about you then,” “Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred baby Hitler-sized adult Hitlers,” as well as “So what did you do with the bodies after that”—I nonetheless worry about the consequences of showcasing a bunch of average Joes instead of students who have, objectively, achieved things that most of us can only dream of. In other words, if “Fifteen Most Randomly Generated Seniors” is set to permanently replace “Fifteen Most Interesting Seniors,” then how am I going to find out about those peers of mine who are truly exceptional, such as Luke C. Mendola ‘17, who thinks a dining hall tray is “just one big plate.”
Now for those of you who don’t remember, a few years ago, FM included Mendola in their “Fifteen Most Interesting Seniors” feature for the class of 2017. “If it were possible to trap a free spirit in a human body, the end result would be Luke C. Mendola ’17,” the article in question begins, accompanied by a photo of Mendola wearing a technicolor sweater and chino pants that he evidently cut into a pair of shorts, while standing next to his bicycle, the frame of which, in a stroke of genius, he had chosen to wrap in christmas lights. From the outset, it is clear that Mendola is not your run-of-the-mill “Most Interesting” senior. Instead of meeting in some dingy cafe in the Square, Mendola has asked that the interview be held on Weeks Bridge at 9pm. However, Mendola is not merely being quirky for the sake of being quirky. In fact, the FM article is quick to emphasize that Mendola “didn’t even really think about the strangeness of the setting.” Rather, he “simply like[s] being outside.”
After talking about how he recently downgraded from an iPhone to an old Motorola flip-phone, Mendola reveals how he carries, at all times, not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, but eight harmonicas, each in a different key. However, Mendola is not merely being quirky for the sake of being quirky, as the harmonicas have actually come in handy more often than one would expect. For example, Mendola recalls how, at some live music event on campus, he “hopped up on stage” and asked if he could “rip a solo.” And although it is not stated whether or not the musicians performing allowed Mendola to “rip a solo,” the very fact that he asked if he could is one of the most interesting things I’ve ever heard in my life, and quite frankly, I can’t even begin to imagine a world in which I can no longer discover students that are even one-tenth as interesting as Mendola is.
Yet, as unbelievable as it may sound, Mendola’s harmonica collection is not even the most fascinating thing about him. Of course, I am referring to the fact that, when Mendola eats at a d-hall, he chooses to dish his food directly onto a tray instead of using a plate. As the FM feature points out, Mendola is so notorious for this practice that he has become known around campus as “Luke.” However, I must, once again, emphasize that in no way, shape, or form is Mendola simply being quirky for the sake of being quirky, and his well-honed four-pillar system is obvious evidence of the deep care and thought Mendola puts into his lifestyle. “The first pillar is that the tray is just one big plate. The second pillar is that you have to live simply and… all a plate does is separate my food from the other plate… and it provides clutter. The third is, I was dishwasher for a couple summers, and after experiencing that, I would rather just slap off the couple remnants from my tray and throw that in the dishwasher instead of using several plates. And fourth, it’s better for the environment—less plates, less water, less use of resources.”
While the above quote is probably reason enough to convince FM not to do away with the “Fifteen Most Interesting Seniors,” I’d just like to make one final plea on behalf of Mendola and all the others out there just like him. Just as President Trump’s immigration ban would potentially deprive the world of the next Steve Jobs—who, in case you didn’t know, was the son of a Syrian refugee—I strongly believe that FM’s introduction of “Fifteen Most Randomly Generated Seniors” would threaten to deprive the Harvard community of the next Luke C. Mendola ‘17. After all, without the possibility of being featured as one of the “Fifteen Most Interesting Seniors,” what incentive would the next Mendola have to buy even one harmonica, yet alone eight?