Necessity is the mother of invention. And as the mother of a college freshman, I find it necessary to encourage the nice folks at Bed, Bath & Beyond to invent a screaming room for first time dorm shoppers. Churches have them, thus it’s perfectly reasonable for BB&B to offer a safe, non-judgmental space to screech the Lord’s name in vain – right between foam pillows and mattress covers works – maybe have a priest on retainer, you know, for the exorcism.
John, my eldest and first to leave the nest will be flying the coop in ten days and I find myself waffling between ugly sobs and jubilation. One minute I’m dragging him to family activities like we’re a tone-deaf version of the Osmonds touring the senior cruise circuit and the next minute I’m ticking off days until his departure like a sailor anticipating Shanghai shore leave.
Today’s linens expedition was supposed to be a bonding experience – and it was. I’m bonding with the Chardonnay as I type.
And so I said…
“What color comforter do you want?”
“How about sheets?”
“Ohhhhh Kaaaaay. What color sheets are your roommates getting? We should match.”
“Match? Who gives a shit – we’re guys.” Grabs nearest androgynous color. “These.”
“OK, gray.” How is he mine? “What else do we need?”
“For your room! You can’t sleep in football cleats; you’re not a cobbler’s elf.”
“Never mind; give me the list.” Snatches university suggested checklist. “Towels; two sets.”
“Do you want shower shoes?”
“WTF is a shower shoe?”
“Flip flops. You know, so you don’t get a fungus or something worse.”
“What’s worse than fungus?”
“What did you volunteer to bring for the joint bathroom?”
“Floor shit and the hangy thing.”
(Side note: I love my son to the moon and back. Great kid – not a wordsmith.)
“What about accessories?”
“What the hells an accessory?”
“Posters, pictures, decorations.”
“I’ve got my black light and some car stuff; this is stupid.”
I wasn’t expecting a complication free excursion, but with each new aisle his mood dipped to a lower level of sullen. There was no joy, no budding excitement over the impeding move – only a forced smile washing over his face with each new question; I felt like a mother dove releasing her fledging chick over Dick Cheney’s place. And then, it hit me…
We left, my credit card maxed and his spirits buoyed by the next-up-in-Debtville cleat shopping. And this, my friends, is where the ugly sobs broke.
“Thanks; for the stuff – and college and shit. Love you.”
“Love you, too, Johnny Bean.” Paused, debated, bit the bullet. “You know I was nervous going to college the first year. It’s perfectly OK – even for big football stars like you.”
“Nah, I’m good.”
“Well, I’m not, but I will be – just like you.”