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Boston Weather: 78.0°F | A Few Clouds

A Night on the `Orange Tour'

By Kevin Frisch
Staff reporter

"Please go to your left and stay back from the edges," I'm told as I emerge onto a roof for the start of the Orange Tour. I look about at the roughly 100 freshman all around me, the general conversation idly floating on rush. The occasional nerd is talking about how grades work at MIT. Others are enlightening their peers about what we are about to venture on, some of it even based on experience, but most hearsay. Still others go around and around, unable to agree on the pronunciation of Iowa.

Suddenly we are being spoken to by someone introducing himself as Jack. Jack is dressed in black. He tells us how we must behave.

"It's most important not to make noise," he says. "Noise attracts these guys in blue suits and funny hats who carry a radio and a doughnut."

A brief chuckle. Apparently we're going to be led by Jack Florey to Baker House by some circuitous rout, or so we should say if asked.

We move out, down five flights of stairs, across a courtyard through a door, and up and up. We finally reach the top and begin walking down a corridor. "These stairs look like the stairs in the Infinite Corridor," says one perceptive freshman.

Suddenly hands go up -- the "Be Quiet" signal! We walk further down the corridor. The silence becomes a murmur, and the murmur becomes a din. The corridor opens up: the third floor of a lobby. We continue. Hands up again. One and a half flights of stairs ascended. Heads sway back and forth; some look bored, others just tired.

Bottleneck at the top of the stairs. We file through a door into the dark outside. Soon everyone is sitting on the cool damp gravel under a clear sky.

Suddenly, we hear a loud crashing sound. Freshmen glace around, startled. Several Jacks disappear in the direction of the noise. Seconds later they return: all clear.

"We're about to go onto it," says a female Jack. "It's a very good view." We climb up on our "bottoms" as Jack told us.

"There's a cop over there," says a pointing freshman. Two Jacks circle over for a brief conference. "Sorry, guys," she says.

It's time to go down. Again, we sit on the gravel. Jack in a black brimmed hat nods when asked if he's sure we've been spotted.

We start to move again.

Suddenly, Jacks are whizzing past us from every direction, heading back to where we were, scaling the wall, scurrying around corners, and jumping back off on the other side.

"Just go down that way," a gruff voice attached to a man dressed in blue with a funny hat, a radio and wanting of a doughnut, yells at us. One more Jack whizzes by, mere feet from the him.

We start to move, entering the building through a small doorway. "Follow me!" someone up front yells. We do. After more stairs and twists and turns, we arrive at a lecture hall. Soon the Jacks arrive, and we are back together again.

The tour goes on for many more hours with stepped places, steamy places, and stories. But I'm tired. You see, I was up late last night.