A young woman wearing a shaggy, red, tendril-adorned hat cradles a glass of beer next to us, nodding along to two men dressed in navy sweaters. Across from her, a blue-haired lady claps in earnest beneath orange streamers. A man wearing a neon green dinosaur onesie holds his costume’s accompanying hat while bopping along to the fading bass. Masks and carved pumpkins, empty mozzarella stick containers, and half-filled bottles lay strewn around the bar.
We’re at the Queen’s Head Pub on the Thursday of Halloweekend, and it’s clear that the people here—freshmen and grad students alike—are getting into the holiday spirit. We, on the other hand, prepare for a sober evening ahead. Parking ourselves at a isolated table near the bathrooms, we observe and smirk from afar.
Patrons flock to the pub for the band, Foxpack, playing later, or for drinks with friends to pre-pre-pre game, or even just to Skype their parents (as we observed in one unabashed student wearing headphones in a corner booth). Chris, the neon dinosaur, who graduated from the pub in 2009, informs us that a Harvard Korean Association party creates the majority of the revelry.
We take turns weaving in and out of the swarms that are taking up more and more space: A middle-aged woman throws her hands in the air, shrugs, then proclaims, “I don’t want to write a reactionary thesis.” Her listener—a bearded man with, sadly, no bun—gives a sympathetic wince. Near the stage towards the back of the bar, about 10 gray-haired friends huddle around a FedEx box. Another group plans their flights for a trip to Vancouver, sharing a bowl of fries, single-minded and oblivious to the squealing girls behind them circled over an iPhone screen. A few feet away, a competitive game of table shuffleboard draws a crowd.
Every now and then, we stumble upon a lone person, isolated from the crowd, agonizing over a laptop screen or a stack of annotated books—perhaps parsing through Foucault or Heidegger. The strain of midterms and theses is palpable. As one woman, gesticulating with wild frustration, exclaims, “The Harvard archives just aren’t enough for what I need!”
Others seem unsatisfied, too. A woman in bold red lipstick complains to her date about the day’s disappointing Snapchat video filters. He sips his drink, gives her a knowing pat on the shoulder, and reassures her that there will be new ones tomorrow. Another lady laments, “All I have are sweatshirts!” Our mild concern turns to jealousy when we realize her lifestyle has, up until this point, allowed for a solely cozy wardrobe.
As we frantically record notes of our surroundings, a woman grabs a glass (conveniently sitting at the table next to us for some time) and downs it in one long, bitter swig. It’s questionable as to whether the beer is hers or if, in an effort to avoid the line at the bar, she has decided finders are indeed keepers.
As the night winds down and we prepare to depart, we approach a woman with arms outstretched, face in a mock-pout, squealing, “You’re leaving?!?” We were touched by such a gesture for the two isolated typists and leave, with the woman’s companion trailing behind us, blowing an air kiss back at her friend.