This past weekend, a sprawling new profile probed Adam Wheeler, the man accused of scamming his way into Harvard. Turns out the tortured poet's grand reinvention coincided with gaining 20 lbs. of muscle in a single summer. Damn.
The Boston Globe's Tracy Jan and Milton J. Valencia describe Wheeler as "so retiring that he was almost invisible." His father was a teacher at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden, Delaware, where Adam went to school. He "often ate lunch in his father's classroom" and lurked around the school before and after classes waiting for his dad.
"He had to achieve the highest, and he paid very close attention to detail,'' [Caesar Rodney drafting teacher Richard] Pieshala said. "He had a quiet disgust with himself when he did something wrong. Once I said, ‘Adam, not everybody gets A's.' He said, ‘I do.' ''
No one who knew the Talented Mr. Wheeler ever seemed to stay in touch with him; he "disappeared" from everyone's life at one point or another. At Bowdoin, he won an English department award for "a spare, haunting poem called 'This Much I Know.'" When they eventually realized Adam had lifted a Paul Muldoon poem, the department revoked the prize. (It took them a year to notice that? It's the title poem in a famed book by a Pulitzer Prize winner.) After he won the prize but before Bowdoin revoked it, Adam (and his Boston Globe hagiographers) treat us to a thrilling makeover scene, in which the Talented Mr. Wheeler becomes a hottie:
After winning the poetry award and seeming to come out of his shell, friends noticed other changes. Though he had begun college skinny and shy, he returned his sophomore year 20 pounds heavier and muscle bound. He worked out manically, lifting weights in the school gym, and gained a brand of fame for devouring up to a dozen bananas in a sitting.
Yes! Beefcake Don Draper time! As the record already shows, Bowdoin subsequently suspends him for "academic dishonesty." He tells his friends he's transferring to U Chicago but somehow ends up at Harvard where he invents an alternate personal history involving fancy prep schools and MIT, adopts affectations including a signature letter jacket and prickly phrases like "crypto-tendentious." Speaking of cryptic, here's a telling revelation from a Caesar Rodney High School yearbook:
In his senior yearbook, other members of the class of 2005 listed the colleges they were heading to, their majors, or other aspirations. Wheeler's entry contained just one word: psychology.
In other news, the Free Adam Wheeler Facebook page has 354 members and a contest to cast the Adam Wheeler movie. Favorites include Adrien Brody and Jake Gyllenhaal. [Globe, Caesar Rodney 2005 yearbook image via Boston Globe]
How a Lie on a Harvard Application Ended in Larceny, Fraud Charges
The Talented Mr. Wheeler: Meet the Kid Who Faked His Way Into Harvard
Harvard Faker Was 'Sententious, Crypto-Tendentious,' and Pre-Law
Did Harvard Faker Write Fake Comments on Article About Himself?