Freshman Trapped in Pre-College Departure Speech

freshman smile
Ernie in his new dorm.

Freshman Ernie McFarlan is trapped in the pre-departure college speech he’s been reciting this entire summer, and has been causing a bit of a stir in the freshman orientation scene. The first report of his unusual behavior came from Orientation Leader Vivian Greene, who asked him to tell the group a little bit about himself, to which he replied, “Emory. I leave on August 21st. Flying. Yeah, I’m really excited.”

Greene says she understands the automatic response many college-bound high school graduates learn over the course of their summers, but nobody else seemed to have that problem. “He gave us that weird introduction even after half the circle had given the normal spiel- names, hometowns, majors… Like, how do you screw up that badly?”

McFarlan’s instinctive presentation has affected his classes, too. Professor Fatima Khan, who teaches McFarlan’s freshman seminar, PSYC 190: Classical Conditioning in Humans, says the boy spent so much time telling the class about his college shopping and packing plans that she had to cut the rest of the 12-person class’s introductions short. “Apparently the whole dorm planning conversation is very popular in… Well, I never learned where he’s from; all he talked about was the other classes he had planned to take and various sports and extracurriculars he’d like to try.” Khan has identified McFarlan’s behavior as a learned reaction to stimuli such as small talk and words like ‘college’ or ‘roommate.’

McFarlan, when he finished giving the wrong speech to our journalist, added that he has put in efforts to learn a new speech that will be more useful on campus, although that too gets regurgitated involuntarily. “My aunt called yesterday to ask how the move in went, and the first thing I said was ‘Hi, I’m Ernie, I’m from Boston and I’m planning on majoring in chemistry and going pre-med.’ She almost hung up because she thought she’d called the wrong number. But she’s also a little senile; she has problems adjusting to life changes. I hope it doesn’t run in the family.”

His roommate, Ryan Singh, recounts the story of move-in day, when he greeted Mcfarlan with “Hey, you must be my roommate,” to which McFarlan responded, “Yeah, I found a roommate in the Facebook group. He’s from California and he’s a little weird but he offered to rent the mini-fridge so hopefully we’ll work out.”

“He didn’t even say hello,” Singh continued, “and I’m supposed to be weird?”

McFarlan’s high school girlfriend, Emily Bates, told her beau yesterday that she missed him, only to be met with a long-winded explanation of both the tough schedule he had planned and his long-term goals for the future. “I thought Ernie was trying to break up with me,” Bates admits, “but then he said, ‘Em and I are staying together. I know distance is really hard but we love each other a lot so we’re going to try to make it work.’ That meant he wanted to stay together, right? What was up with the third person narrative though?” When approached for comment, McFarlan responded, “I don’t know, it’s kind of a big commitment but I think joining a fraternity could be a great experience. Emory rushes in the spring, so I have time to meet a bunch of people, check out the parties, and then decide if that’s something I want to go through with.”

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