An Investigation: The School’s Steam Secret

On the surface, USC is particularly picturesque year round, but beneath it lies a haunting mystery.  Smoke billowing from below the pavement is rumored to be the creation of some kind of subterranean creature, though no conclusive evidence to this theory has been found. What follows is the result of The Third Spur performing its own investigation.

“Every time I pass by one, I see this billowing steam uprising and I always think, ‘I wonder what that is,'” freshman Thomas Rodriguez told our man-on-the-street reporter about the manhole-in-the-street covers. Rodriguez is not alone in his interest. A whopping 3 people out of the 4 we bothered to ask have some level of curiosity about the peculiar steam. One even removed an earbud to give us his statement: “Oh yeah, I wonder what that’s about.”

So, we entered the drainage system in a quest for answers that the public so clearly demanded to know, and what we found gave us more questions than we could have expected. Within the sewers, we followed the confusing yet familiar scent of creme brûlée that led us to a man who, like a kindergartner with a joint in a jungle gym, inhabited the dankest recess of Columbia. He appeared to be consumed by only one thing when we visited – his Juul. As he told us, he chain vapes 20 pods per day and is supported in his habit by his late father’s trust fund, as well as access to a pledge driver.

Who was this mysterious creature? It is thanks to Roxanne Wilson, an alumna of USC, that we were able to uncover those manhole covers and unmask a monster. His name was Todd E. Lafreniere, a disgraced former USC business student and fraternity member. Wilson had known Lafreniere during his time at USC and the two had even dated. Lafreniere was a member of TKE prior to his departure from USC due to an academic expulsion. Not long after his final semester, Lafreniere became a man of the Columbia sewer system, spending his days and nights wandering the forbidden tunnels as if they were his own SEC version of the Catacombs. Driven mad by the mistakes he made and disfigured by the toxicity of his new home, Lafreniere slowly transformed into something else.

T-ODD, as he likes to be called, has spent the last 18 years in a feeble attempt to reconnect with his past. T-ODD has delved into each new frat trend in hopes that one day his understanding of the youth that once accepted him would lead him to be welcomed back someday. In the plumes of mango and peppermint smoke that engulfed his Sperry and Vineyard Vines clad body, we truly felt sympathy for this creature, who desperately sought readmission into TKE so he could rip fat clouds with his boys one last time.

Roxanne Wilson had been pregnant. The implications of the pregnancy scared T-ODD and was ultimately, as he told us whilst sitting upon a painted YETI cooler, responsible for his distraction from school and subsequent failed classes. Now, 18 years later, his son Mark Wilson attends USC as a freshman. T-ODD hopes to find his son when he is eventually able to rejoin the community. But, for now, T-ODD must understand the culture to be able to acclimate and fit in. And he’s doing it one Juul pod at a time.