“You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you
select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because
you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to
care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that
that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s
actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in
2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I
think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean
military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean
quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And
then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then
trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt,
fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents
millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you
think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion
industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for
you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.
Parents didn’t always read the orientation material.
There were a few, every year. They insisted on helping the new students move into the dorms. They sent boxes from home, full of cookies or brownies or favorite munchies. They called frequently (it wasn’t safe. Letters were safer, e-mail was safer, even texts were safer, but calls not so much.) They begged for pictures, for visits, and sometimes they accidentally-on-purpose “just happened to be in the area”.
The staff tried to deal with parents. Oh how they tried. Usually it worked. The Gentry almost never kept parents.
But some… some parents never left.
She had taken piano lessons when she was younger. Her parents approved: that was a womanly decorative thing to do. She had never played sports, because that wasn’t a womanly decorative thing. She wore dresses. She took ballet, she sang, she painted. Her parents told her every day in every way who they thought she should be, and she tried, she really did.
She was tired of not being good enough.
She applied to Elsewhere, and got a full music scholarship, and carefully out of sight in the shower she sobbed with relief and fear. Her parents loved her, they really did, they told her so. The disappointment at her, the silent treatment, the confinement and not being allowed out with her friends… well, they were just trying to protect her, right? They didn’t know the bubble wrap they tried to put around her was smothering her.
She read the orientation paperwork, every single scrap. She wanted to do everything right, because the thought of doing it wrong terrified her. Even the strange stuff, maybe especially the strange stuff, because everything in life was a test, another opportunity to disappoint.
“As an environmentally-conscious measure, Elsewhere University’s campus is not set up to allow automobile traffic. For those students who need transportation help, there are staff with golf carts available, as well as a series of campus shuttles that make regular stops. Bicycles are available for rent by the hour, the week, or the semester. Skateboards and skates are permitted but proper safety gear must be worn.”
Father was angry when campus security wouldn’t let him drive straight to her dorm. She trembled. Always, when Father was angry, somehow either she or Mother paid. He fumed while waiting for a golf cart, he clenched his jaw when the staff member driving the golf cart refused to simply step aside and hand over the keys, he was elaborately careful when helping load her things after being refused a campus map.
Her dorm was a solid brick building, a pleasant generic institutional place. Father insisted on carrying her things up to her room, on the second floor. "So I know where my little girl will be,“ he said. His anger cooled a little with the exertion, down to its usual simmer.
It only took a few trips to get all of her things upstairs. Father insisted on a hug, just on the edge of being painful as his hugs always were. She endured it, because trying to get away always earned a lecture. "I love you so much, you’ll always be my little girl, you are a disappointment because you don’t love me as much as I love you, but I will forgive you because I am better than you.”
“Elsewhere University wishes to be the beginning of a new life for every student. We ask that students choose a nickname, in order to facilitate this feeling of a new beginning. Common nickname categories are an interest, a favorite song or work of art, an aspiration, or a personal quality. It is our firm belief, demonstrated by decades of successful graduates, that this practice allows students the freedom to really expand their horizons and demonstrate both their personalities and their capabilities both actual and potential. In support of this practice, we ask that legal names not be used on campus except with the Student Services or Records and Enrollment offices.”
The driver helped as Father made one last check to be sure nothing had been left. He reminded her to call twice a week. He hugged her again, ignoring the gasp she made as he let go. "Remember to call your Mother, Susan. You’ll always be her little girl, and you know how she worries.“
“I will, Father.”
The driver watched, waiting patiently while Father said his good-byes, then cleared his throat. "Sir, if you want to attend the parent orientation, we need to be going.“
"Yes, I’d planned on attending. I need to know everything, to help keep my Susan safe.” Father climbed aboard, and the driver waved as they left. For an instant his hand seemed to have too many fingers.
She felt eyes on her as they drove away.
She climbed the stairs back to her room, looking forward to taking her shoes off and unpacking. The door, locked when she left it, was still locked, but now there was a pile of stuff underneath the open window.
“Hey! Sorry I wasn’t here when you were bringing stuff up, he looked a bit intense, oh hey are you ok?” The girl on the tree branch outside the window climbed in and sat on the windowsill.
She nodded. She locked the door behind her, then sat on one of the beds.
“I’m Magpie, second year, one of the stage monkeys for the theater. You wanna see? No obligation.”
“Yeah, I… I paint, a little.”
“You do? Cool! Hey, but if you want to go see, that outfit’s cute and all but it’ll get ruined pretty quick.”
“I’ve got some grubbies, let me unpack.”
Magpie grinned and pushed her hair behind one ear. "Your dad isn’t one of those types who thinks he’ll be visiting every weekend, is he? 'Cause I can’t hide all the time.“
"I think he was heading to the parent orientation.”
Magpie blinked. "Oh… kay.“
“There’s someone I want you to meet. They go by Melanotis. They’ll tell you about the parent orientation. Are you sure you’re ok?” Magpie pushed her hair back again.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Why do you keep asking?”
“There is no parent orientation. Here, take this. No obligation.” Magpie took a ring off of her index finger and handed it to her. It was a puzzle ring made of iron and pyrite, and it fit her index finger as if it had been made for her.
“Thanks, but why?”
“My dad was like that, too. What do you want to be called?”
The choice, the possibility of choice, was dizzying. Something to hang onto… a favorite song. "Call me Sussudio,“ she said, and smiled.
-because when you grow up and become a hero, kids will hear about you. And you will be recognized on the street.
-Denki gets distracted a lot. So when a kid is like, “ohmygosh hi!!” he is like: “WHAT HAPPENED?!” And starts sparking and shit like a villain is gonna jump out at him. The kids tend to just giggle and get excited to see his electricity. Then he calms down and like, spends some time making them laugh with static electricity between their fingers.
-Kiri LOVES the kids’ attention. He’s really smiley and happy, and will autograph anything. One time, a child asked him if he could break a glass bottle against Kiri just to see how hard his skin was. The parents were like STOP OMG DONT PLAY WITH GLASS and Kiri is like, “sure, I bet I could break it with just my pinky!!”
-Izuku is super flattered and shy, and tells them they’re gonna grow up and be awesome heroes too. He cannot believe that people want his autograph, but he doesn’t say no. Parents really love him and kids like to pile stuff in his arms to see how much his strength can hold. Or they just climb on top of him.
-Shouto is all right with kids. He’s kinda soft-spoken, but he smiles at them and will give them really good advice. He comforts a lot of crying children by making snowflakes for them. Children like to ask him to heat up stuff for them just to watch it melt. He’s superrrr protective and is completely the type to see any sort of parental abuse in public (whether its verbal or almost physical) and like, scare the shit out of said parent. Kids are very grateful for him.
-Katsuki hates children. Just….He doesn’t….Yeah it’s bad. He’ll sign stuff for them, but most of the time, it goes like this:
Kids: “EXPLOSION GUY!”
Katsuki: “The fuck?”
Kids: “MOMMM HE SAID A BAD WORD!”
Katsuki: “AGH SHUT UP YOU LITTLE—AGH I MEAN, NO, IT’S NOT A FUC—IT’S NOT A BAD WORD.”
Kids: “So I can say it too?”
Katsuki: “Uh, why would I give a f—why would i care?”
Kids: “Can I—?”
Katsuki: “See me blow up something?”
Kids: “—touch your hair?”
A lovely shot of the library at (I think) Trinity College, Oxford. Within the aisles of the bookshelves are individual carrels and around exam time each student has one with all their stuff piled in it - books, teacups, computers, everything - that they barely leave for a few weeks.