In Which Our Hero Mentors the Next Generation
By Grace Adee
On a recent hazy August morning, Verily Veritas was jolted awake by a timid little knock on his door.
“Whoever could that be?” mused Verily as he stretched his arms luxuriously. “Ah! Someone must have seen my magazine advertisement seeking fellow provocateurs for an upcoming short film production.”
He opened his door to a crop of ten wide-eyed Columbia first-years. The bravest of the bunch stepped forward, wearing a tie and carrying a briefcase. A real networker. “Mr. Veritas, sir?”
Verily looked Tie Guy up and down and nodded his approval. “I like your look, kid. What’s a smart chap like you doing getting involved in the rough-and-tumble world of guerilla filmmaking, eh?”
Tie Guy cocked his head in confusion. “Actually—”
Verily surveyed the rest of the group. “I’m just so impressed that so many of you responded to my classified ad. I didn’t know this many people read The Blue and White. Luckily, I have yet to fill several cast and crew roles, so I’ll only need to cut one or two of you.”
Tie Guy tried to cut in again. “Well, Mr. Verily, we really are here to ask you—”
Verily turned back to Tie Guys and pulled out his Moleskine and quill. “You have ‘leading man’ written all over you, sir. Can you briefly delineate your experiences on the stage and screen?”
“Ah … well, I did have a small part when my middle school did Our Town, but I don’t know if that’s—”
“We’re here for our tour of campus,” interrupted a young woman with an EcoReps water bottle and a COÖP bucket hat—BOP not ROP or HOP, of course.
Verily furrowed his brow. “That might put us a bit behind schedule, but I suppose we can work that in.” Verily took a curious step toward the woman in the bucket hat. She took a step back. “Has anyone told you that you just have a certain magnetism about you? That—pardon my French—je ne sais quoi?” He glanced between Bucket Hat and Tie Guy. “Have you two met yet? I think you’d have tremendous screen chemistry—”
“You’re our OL!” Tie Guy finally cried.
“You were supposed to meet us in Lerner two hours ago,” Bucket Hat added.
Verily frowned. “Oh, no. I don’t think so. I wouldn’t have signed up for something like—” He froze. A foggy night at 1020 returned to him in fragments. How a few Manhattans had brought on a sudden and passionate desire to share his rich experience with young Lions … his rush to Butler to fill out an application …. and also a very sober interview with a Columbia bureaucrat that took place several weeks later. “Oh dear,” Verily muttered, returning once more to the lonely and disoriented first-years before him. If only he could have been given a more vigorous and virile crop of recruits!
“I can only assure you that today’s educational enrichment will be well worth the wait. Just give me a moment to put on a fresh pair of trousers and we’ll be on our way!” And with that, Verily disappeared into his dorm. And half of the students picked up their bags and walked out.
One hour later, Verily threw open his door, releasing a billow of Axe body spray (a wonder of the modern age) in the faces of the only remaining members of his orientation group—Bucket Hat and Tie Guy, now focused intently on a game of UNO. “Come along, young artists!” Verily shouted gleefully. “I’ll show you what college is all about.” He barreled toward the exit. Tie Guy and Bucket Hat hurriedly packed up their cards and followed.
Fifteen minutes later, after successfully dodging any and all questions about the specifics of attending Columbia University on their hurried journey across campus, Verily directed his two mentees to his favorite table at the Hungarian Pastry Shop. “So the film … it’s hard to describe, of course, like all good films are.” Tie Guy and Bucket Hat exchanged a skeptical glance.
“What’s the genre?” Tie Guy asked.
“I don’t really see genre,” Verily replied, daring them to ask him what this meant. “But if I had to box it in with a label,” Verily continued pensively, “for the critics, I’d say it’s a postmodern, existential, and experimental blend of action, romance, and dark humor filmed in the style of the French New Wave.”
Tie Guy considered this. “Humor, huh? So it’s funny?”
Verily balked. “Well, not funny, like, ‘Haha,’ funny. More like, ‘Hmm, interesting.’ You know. That kind of funny.” Verily took a long sip of his Russian coffee and unwittingly acquired a whipped cream mustache.
“Well, let’s see it,” Bucket Hat finally said.
Tie Guy nodded his agreement. “The script. You have it with you, right?”
Verily averted his gaze. “Well, I—I mean, you know, a screenplay is quite the undertaking, it’s not like any old—I mean, I have bits and pieces, of course, in my trusty notebook here—”
Bucket Hat closed her eyes in disbelief. “I’m sorry, let me get this straight. You’ve brought us here to make a short film … that you haven’t written yet?”
Verily shrugged. “I mean, like I said. Bits and pieces.”
Bucket Hat stood up and turned to Tie Guy. “If we leave now, we can still get our Surf & Turf frisbees.”
Bucket Hat might have gone the way of the rest of the orientation group, but Verily was determined to get at least one budding Ava Gardner—minus the cheekbones, admittedly—out of today. “Don’t go, young man. I’ll take you under my wing. Show you the ropes. It’ll be the best education you get out of this place,” Verily said, displaying his most charming grin.“What do you say, kid?”
Tie Guy hesitated, eyes darting between his new friend and his new mentor. Finally, he turned to Bucket Hat. “You go on without me. I’ll catch up.” This was just the kind of networking opportunity he’d hoped to find at Columbia. Verily had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Bucket Hat rolled her eyes. “Whatever. More frisbee for me.” With that, she took off, blissfully unaware of the fact that Verily had perhaps given her the aptest introduction to Columbia possible.
“You made the right choice, kid. Mind over matter, you know,” Verily said.
Tie Guy smiled. “Thank you. I think so, too.”
“And with that, we begin!” Verily declared with a clap of his hands. “So, kid. Tell me this. How exactly might one go about operating a digital camera?”