“Lequel, monsieur?” she asked me. Le-f*cking-quel? Are you kidding me you dog, I want the premium stylus and no other. It is the only feathered quill that will do for this sumptuous task. You see: I had flown to Saint Tropez for the weekend in search of the perfect pen, because as we all know, December is looming around the corner. It’s a month of happiness, celebrations, and gift giving. It’s a month of pure frill where students are graced with a bit of cold weather and cozy tea-fuelled revision. And my revision shall surpass them all.
François was as always sitting in the corner of the common room ogling my new apparatus full of scornful jealousy upon my return. I can tell that he is whiffing the fumes of the French ink from a mile away, loathing every second of my hedonistic self-indulgence. He knows it’s the expensive stuff. There’s only a day left and this pitiful provincial has yet to purchase the go-to transparent pencil case – this fresher knows nothing of the intimacy of this process.
The day is upon us now, and as I enter the room, my nether lip quivers and my rear clenches, hoping to preserve the moment eternally. I can smell the freshly printed paper and new highlighters. Yum, I think. For three hours straight I shall be drinking the nectar of the gods. This International Relations exam has yet to meet my eye, and already I have tamed it. I am the master, and the paper, my inferior.
Lost in a reverie, I think of the corrector laughing at my quaint and cultured witticisms – academically appropriate, surely.
He sips his Laphroaig Single Malt, much applauding my use of the word “fungibility” in connection to my analysis of certain US legal disputes. It’s not an illusion, my thesis statement does in fact complement my body paragraphs and conclusion perfectly – and I am a cheeky one word under the limit because, I blush, I just couldn’t help it sir.
The waiting is perhaps the only arduous part of this ceremony. I wink at the girl next to me, as if to say: “IR is the only thing worth studying, right?” She seems offended, but only by my sensually poised confidence. A whisper.
“Excuse me? Can I help you?”
I almost burst out in laughter at her attempt to ridicule my intellect, but I retained my fervent urges, and simply let a suitable scoff slip out of my mouth.
-“Are you being funny, mate? I’ve been waiting my existence for this exam. I’m ready, you fool.”
The seconds tick by and I burn with envy at those who have already placed their rapacious hands on the script. I sit speculating audaciously on the nature of its content. Perhaps the United States, or maybe China? I ponder the thought, secretly hoping I can incorporate both to show my vast array of knowledge.
I catch a glimpse of François – he has his paper already. In the corner of his eye I see a glint with an undertone of mockery in it. He turns and observes me like a bald eagle in some indie music video. You fool. I will never be bald because I do not stress for exams, because I love exams. I love them more than you will ever love anything. I love them so much that I weep at their mere existence, wondering how I could possibly be worthy. They are all fools, yet here we are: ready to suckle on the honey.
Finally my paper arrives like a sealed billet-doux. I am tempted to turn her over like the inside of an autumn leaf, but I’m well acquainted with the rules. I sit longingly, waiting for the clock to strike two.
Now. I turn my new prize. China. “Fungibility” will be of no use here, alas, but luckily the beauty of this treat for one is adapting. With stealth, I lower my head, close my eyes, and think pensively of a new term that might seduce my marker. “Hegemonism” is my saviour. I begin to write profusely, with newfangled hunger. I am well structured, eloquent, and clever. My essay is balanced, and the minutes left match exactly the Stanford Guide To Mind-blowing Exams’ recommendation for the adequate amount of proof reading time.
I exit the hall with renewed energy. What an absolutely marvelous experience. The month of December is a blessing. An American acquaintance approaches me.
“What are you doing for Christmas, dude?”