Karsom Chambers, a fourth year junior, left two months ago to study abroad in Avignon, France for the summer. He left in a T-shirt and Vans and returned with two berets, a new sense of self and a nicotine addiction.
Sources said the interdisciplinary film business major decided to travel abroad after watching “Requiem for a Dream.” When it was explained to him that the movie had nothing to do with France, he replied, “I’m pretty sure ‘requiem’ is French, so...”
The most painful aspect, perhaps, was his very moment of return. After several group messages (and a collection of sighs), Jarret Rivers, Leigh Sanderson, Sef Hughes and Josef Colinswet reluctantly awaited his arrival at the airport gate with whatever is the opposite of bated breath. He greeted them with a sincere “bonjour” and a drag from his electronic cigarette.
As the monochrome-clad group made their rounds of insincere greetings, Hughes, an undeclared senior, hung back and tightened the strap of his vegan leather Herschel messenger bag.
“So?” Sanderson, a friend and very small sophomore, said. “Was it everything you thought it’d be?”
“Oh my oui, dude, you have no idea. It’s so different than the culture of exploitative capitalism in the States... people in France actually... get it,” Chambers said.
Rivers, a film supply chain management major, a vocal first-year who clung to his credit-hour status as a sophomore, spoke up and said, “But isn’t France like also in the midst of an increasingly concerning epidemic of militarized fascism?”
Chambers lit up as he turned his attention and responded, “Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure Armani and Versace were born there!”
Chambers bid his friends a quick “aw revwah” because he said he had to attend an exclusive screening of Wes Anderson’s timeless classic “Moonrise Kingdom” at the local film bar. He then said he hailed a cab, but actually called a Lyft, and left the airport.
The group of friends shared their disgust toward their friend Chambers, who had clearly lost touch with reality during his study abroad.
“It’s like, when he came out of the gate, I thought, ‘Oh hell yeah, just another pod in the Juul pile,’” Sanderson lamented, “But then when we got outside, he pulled out an actual cigarette. Like, what the heck?”
“You never think this kind of thing will happen to you, but then your closest bro comes home and full-on worships Emmanuel Macron,” Rivers said through tears. “He didn’t even offer to drop us off at Cartel like he usually does when we hang out.”
“He didn’t even ask about my new ‘Pulp Fiction’ stick and poke. He’s changed, guys,” Colinswet said.
“Did you guys hear what he said when I asked him if he tried ratatouille? He said he couldn’t find a rat,” Leigh said.
“And what was up with his outfit? Full beret, crop top and capris? When I asked him what his inspiration was, he just said he was weaning himself off clothes in order to transition into nudism,” Sanderson said.
It was at this point that Hughes and his vegan leather Herschel messenger bag began to suspect that Chambers did not spend his summer in Avignon. After all, this is the guy who showed up to ASU 101 dressed like Al Capone every day, trench coat and all.
Hughes finally took in his surroundings and noticed something odd: Chambers had come from the departure area, not arrivals. If he had just left in a Lyft and hadn’t flown anywhere, then Sef had to wonder: Did Karsom Chambers just take a shuttle to the airport?
Hughes began to investigate to confirm his suspicion. He followed Chambers’ Lyft on a skateboard to its destination and found himself bracing for the hardest thing he’d ever have to do: enter a Starbucks.
He pulled out his limited edition Bob Dylan soft black leather Moleskine notebook and Pilot G-2 .38 millimeter black gel ink pen from his vegan leather Herschel bag to take notes.
When Hughes asked the Starbucks barista about her experience with Chambers she said, “I kid you not, this man came in a full mime costume and tried to pay for his latte with five pence.”
Hughes’ concern only increased at the realization that the pence is not French currency, and it seemed Chambers hadn’t even known the exchange rate. Hughes lamented, “What is that, like 60 cents?”
It is not 60 cents.
Hughes’ iPhone 4S began buzzing and playing the score to “The Godfather.” He answered with the tenacity of someone who didn’t have a cracked screen and a cut on his left thumb.
As he answered, a voice he described as “definitely modulated on GarageBand” threatened him and demanded he backed off from the investigation.
The voice, which sounded startlingly similar to Chambers’ mom, said, “Listen, if you leave this alone, I can get you the lead role in a no-budget regional theatre production of ‘Equus.’”
He looked down at Bob Dylan, his hero, on the cover of his Moleskine notebook, and texted his mom the good news. He’s finally a star.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in print in The State Press Magazine, vol. 20, issue 2 on Oct. 9, 2019. An earlier version of this story misstated the date of print publication. The story has been updated to reflect this correction.
The nature of this article is satirical and the opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.