Satire: First-year student returns home for Thanksgiving with entirely new personality
Family weighs in: Who is Kant, and what has he done with my son?
The following piece is satire and should not be misconstrued for actual reporting. Any resemblance to a student, staff or faculty member is coincidental.
As first-year students “circle back” home for winter break, parents and families struggled to connect with their college attendees. When leaving their small towns for the first time, first-years often experiment with identities — dyeing their hair, adopting a new personal style or perhaps even cutting their own bangs.
This year, The Seagle caught up with the families of students who underwent a more extreme transformation: returning home for Thanksgiving completely different people from who they were in August.
One of these extreme cases is that of Daniel Flemmington, a freshman in the School of International Service. Flemmington’s family actually reached out to The Seagle themselves, hoping their story would help other parents feel less alone.
“When my Danny got off the train at Metropark, my eyes welled up and I couldn’t help but ugly-cry,” said Janice Flemmington, Daniel’s mother. “He was wearing a turtleneck, which was unusual, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. It wasn’t until he got closer, and I noticed the monocle and stopwatch, that I realized something was profoundly different about my Danny.”
“When I asked him how his trip was, he answered me in an accent,” said Daniel’s father Hank.
“Wasn’t it more of an affect?” asked Janice.
“Yes, Daniel spoke with a sort of British affect,” said Hank. “Being that we are from central Jersey, that was strange.”
On the Flemmington’s ride home from the train station, Hank and Janice offered to drive through Wendy’s — Daniel’s favorite fast food chain. After Hank asked if Daniel wanted his usual vanilla frosty, Daniel responded, “These are the questions we should be asking.” Janice said it was unlike Daniel to give such a vague non-answer to such a simple question.
“The real trouble was Thanksgiving dinner,” Janice said.
The Flemmington’s serve their Thanksgiving dinner buffet-style, to accommodate their large extended family. When Daniel reached the counter, he held his plate out at the turkey, waiting to be served. He also referred to himself as a “devil’s advocate” at least five times, and, after an hour, insisted they turn the lights off to conserve energy.
“When my five year old daughter mistook mashed potatoes for the green bean casserole, she cried and asked to turn the lights on,” said Frank. “Danny interjected with a ‘counterpoint’ explaining the environmental impact of unnecessary indoor lighting to his sister, and then proceeded to chide her for using paper to draw her hand turkeys. Danny said, ‘We are in a climate crisis, Clara. If you continue down this path, human life will cease to exist on this Earth and everything you know and love will be scorched by the sun and die.’”
Clara starts therapy on Thursday.
Dessert was equally as tense as dinner. “Janice’s father decided to leave the nutmeg out of Martha Stewart’s apple pie recipe,” Hank said. “But when Daniel found out, he went on a rant analyzing his grandfather’s choice from a ‘deontological perspective.’ Everything was ‘Kant this,’ ‘Kant that.’ Who is Kant and what has he done with my son?”
On his final day in New Jersey, Daniel’s family drove him to the train station. To their surprise, he refused to board his train. “He told us he wanted to walk to reduce his carbon footprint,” Janice said. “It’s a 77 hour walk.”
Despite moments of conflict, Janice once again teared up watching Daniel head back to college.
Hank, too, got a little choked up at the prospect of not seeing Daniel again for another month. As for Clara, they decided it was best to leave her home with her grandparents.
Nora Sullivan is a junior in the School of International Service and a satire columnist at The Eagle.