Emmaus, Pennsylvania, May 1999
Like most 18-year-olds I had high hopes for my college years. Having risen amazingly from a challenging upper-middle-class, white, suburban childhood, I was ready. I would travel to a city, any city, where I would immerse myself in interesting knowledge by day and party with megababes by night.
I had seen enough movies to know that even fictional universities are a total blast. I was accepted at five real ones and they were all such great choices, it scarcely mattered which one I attended. It mattered so little that this decision was made by coin flips. By a 13-12 score I would attend Case Western Reserve University.
Cleveland, Ohio, August 1999
It started off well, it really did. The first girl I met was friendly and hot. Mere hours later, some tool played "The Boxer" for her on an acoustic guitar. "That's so beautiful," she said. "Did you write that?" He did not.
These are the babes dreams are made of.
Alas, it was not to be. Case Western Reserve University seemed to have all the things that would attract a surplus of babes: a rigorous engineering curriculum, the nation's fastest internet connection, bitterly cold weather, crime, and Division III athletics. Babes did not agree.
Case's percentage of male students hovered in the 60s, but that number was a moving target at best considering the number of students who didn't appear to be male or female—or just didn't appear at all because they didn't leave their rooms. The party scene was basically me and one other student sitting around, wondering how we could get beer. We couldn't.
The internet connection was great. There might have been other schools where I would have caught my girlfriend asking a Multi-User Dungeon for relationship advice. At those schools I would have been surprised.
Has never been in a Multi-User Dungeon.
I had a friend at Case who also graduated high school with me, so we hung out a lot. At the time, it was the in thing for rich celebrities to go to college for no reason. Natalie Portman was a freshman at Harvard. How hilarious would it be if she were instead at Case, ensconced in concrete-block, man-hating, all-female Norton House, downloading "Razorblade Suitcase" on MP3 and studying for the Engineering 145 exam?
Then came the idea. We would start an Internet rumor that just such a thing was happening. We would claim that a celebrity planned to attend Case that fall.
The two most famous 17-year-old actresses at the time were Thora Birch ("American Beauty") and Kirsten Dunst. "American Beauty" was good, but "Dick" was and is a hell of a lot funnier movie title. We went with Kirsten Dunst.
At the time, items could be added to IMDB's "Trivia" pages by simply typing them into a form and submitting them. To Kirsten Dunst's "Trivia" we added the information, "Kirsten plans to attend Case Western Reserve University starting in the fall of 2000." That was the extent of our plot and we immediately forgot about it.
"Dick" was robbed of a Best Costume Design Oscar.
Having been elected by write-in vote, 2-1, I was Hitchcock House's representative to the Undergraduate Student Government. Every Tuesday night meeting ended with announcements of upcoming events for the week. This had evolved into kind of a joke—literally the most exciting thing that happened in the 1999-2000 academic year was a concert by G. Love and Special Sauce. Someone would say "Spot night, every Wednesday night" (an opportunity to eat bad, cheap food) and we would leave.
Today was different. One of our fraternity representatives made a earthshattering announcement: Kirsten Dunst would be attending Case in the fall. His fraternity was pumped. She must be interested in our theater program, he opined. Who cared? This was cataclysmic. Kirsten Dunst would act on the stage of the Eldred Black Box Theater! Cleveland would recoup the loss it suffered when Halle Berry moved out at age two!
I said nothing. One very outgoing person in every dorm and one very outgoing person in every Greek life cluster now knew. Everyone soon would.
Will she wear this to Math 122?
By the time school let out for the summer, the campus was pumped. This wasn't USC going from 10,000 babes to 10,001. This was Case going from two to three.
She was so attainable now. Everyone knows that you can't date a hot celebrity. But don't think of it that way. Is it really beyond the realm of possibility that you could date a girl from Point Pleasant, New Jersey, who is a year behind you at your pretty small university?
Do something. Sign up to be an orientation leader or R.A. to get first crack at her. Register for Theater 102, she'll need that for her degree. Certainly she'll want a guy who has seen and can discuss The Virgin Suicides—or maybe even has the DVD casually placed on his shelf. You're an asshole who's not good enough for her. That's what chicks go for!
You still don't want to see this movie.
Here is where everything really came to a head. Everybody entertained the thought of the rumor, but nobody truly believed the rumor. Enter the mainstream media.
Sun Newspapers is a group of 22 weekly newspapers in the Cleveland area. One of their columnists printed the news that Kirsten Dunst would attend Case in the fall. Twenty-two newspapers are enough to catch the eye of many Case parents. "Did you see this? Kirsten Dunst is going to your school?" Holy shit, she is.
Twenty-two newspapers reach a lot of eyes, but the Sun papers did not reach over 2 million subscribers. Luckily, Maxim magazine does. No doubt relying on the Sun report, Maxim reported the news to the other two million people. Now we're up to 23 publications going with this news, including the largest men's magazine in the United States. Maxim had (and still has) a greater circulation than the New York Times. By this time, only two students didn't believe it and we weren't talking. Kirsten Dunst would attend Case Western Reserve University.
Kirsten Dunst actually wasn't that well known when we started the rumor. She was someone who you had to say her name, then describe who she was. But by August, every TV station was blanketed with ads for that month's release of Bring It On, featuring Kirsten Dunst's breakout starring performance. Everyone knew who she was. Who at Case would really know?
Better than dropping off film at Medic Drug...
Kirsten never came.
It was totally plausible that she would skip orientation. Obviously she was out promoting Bring it On that week. And the first week of classes - who went to those? Everyone who had seen the film on its opening weekend knew that she was sexy, and smart, and popular to boot. She would catch up.
All illusion falls apart. We had 3,500 undergraduates. Someone would have seen her. She's not there. There's no surf in Cleveland, USA.
For one week, the student newspaper renamed the Fun Page the "Kirsten Never Came Fun Page." I still have fifteen copies of that issue. The page isn't fun.
A few months later Kirsten was interviewed about her previous plans to attend Case. According to the article, "She laughed and said she had never heard of the small school in Ohio."
I disappointed 3,500 people but I made her laugh.
Kirsten, Case would still be happy to have you.
Copyright 2012-2013 Brian Schwartz / Cannot reprint