Recommended wine for today’s entry: Polka Dot Dry Riesling. I choose this today because I tried it over the weekend and it has a rather sweet and innocent quality to it. Tasting notes we took: “light, sweet start with a drier finish.” Just like a college freshman, light and sweet. Then keg parties take both away.
We dropped my daughter at college on Saturday, and by the time we left, her room looked like an H.H. Gregg store. I mean it — kids nowadays (oh, hell, now I’ve gone and said “kids nowadays…”), they have it all: flat-screen TVs, DVD players, laptops, printers and microwaves. Some of the boys have gaming stations with surround sound. All in 100 square feet. On the way home, I had a vivid memory of my own first day on campus.
Luckily, I was in a dorm with all single rooms. This was not as lucky for me as it was for those who were spared the nightmare of being my roommate. I was a total slob, I snored and I would no more have cared about coordinating bedding than I would have cared to change the oil in my own car. I would have been a bad roommate. And these rooms were teeeeny.
There was just enough room for the bed that I wouldn’t make once all year, the built-in desk and the refrigerator where I would grow various strains of mold. I squeezed in a cute chartreuse plastic table that stood about 18” off the ground with legs that fell off if you sneezed in the room. My media center.
That is where I placed my electronics. A stereo. I use that term loosely, as it was only a turntable and two speakers; very similar to the old Close & Plays designed for the 8-10 year old demographic. Underneath the plastic table, I neatly arranged my England Dan and John Ford Coley, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Waylon Jennings albums. Oh, and I had the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever for the times when my wild side came out.
Everyone on my freshman hall always borrowed everyone else’s music, but no one ever asked to borrow mine, which was just as well, because the first week of school I left the fridge door open, prompting the freezer (which made ice cubes so small that they melted before they hit your glass) to defrost and turn the album covers into smishy clumps of paper mache.
OK, I digress as usual. Back to the first day. After setting up my room, my mom and I started down the hall, standing in the doorways and introducing ourselves to all my hallmates. This worked well, because I’ll talk to anyone who’ll listen and, unless they jumped out the windows, these poor souls were trapped. Some of them did sidle rather rapidly toward the window, but no one actually plunged.
There was one who probably should have. She was from Pittsburgh and she seemed very nice, except she had on too much perfume and there were no lights on in her room. Standing in the doorway, mom and I were shooting the breeze with her (well, that’s not exactly true, because except for her name and “Pittsburgh,” she didn’t say a word.) So I guess we shot the breeze at her.
So mom picks up this tall red vase from the desk.
Mom: Well, isn’t this a pretty vase?
Me: Aw, I didn’t think to bring a vase. Wow. I didn’t even remember my retainer. Bringing a vase…pretty impressive. You sure must like flowers.
Mom: And look at all the little openings down the side.
Me: Yeah, that’d be really pretty with like, I don’t know, a daisy or something sticking out of each of the holes. Or you could do … ohmygosh, white roses! How pretty would that be?
Mom: Oh, that would be lovely. (To Pittsburgh girl) Have you ever used it for roses?
At this point, we look up and Pittsburgh’s face is saying, “Are you effing kidding me here?” (I didn’t know that’s what her face was saying at the time, but very shortly thereafter I took a class in nonverbal communication and clearly, that is exactly what the chick was thinking…except I’m guessing she was using the real “f” word.)
So you’ve probably figured out by now that it was a bong. Like for smoking pot. I didn’t find that out until about two weeks later when I asked a group in the bathroom what was so funny. Turns out it was me.
In our defense, my mother and I had never seen a bong. And I wasn’t raised under a rock – after all, I went to a Kiss concert in 10th grade. I probably should have recognized the sweet smell in Pittsburgh’s room, but I was so immersed in finishing my Algebra homework at the concert that the smell of pot didn’t quite register.
Oh, and to top it off, later that week, the first edition of the school newspaper came out with some pictures of a fraternity of derelicts sitting in a line of sofas and kitchen chairs they’d dragged to a busy campus corner. They were rating the freshmen girls as they moved in. Front page, above the fold – my mom and me, with the guys holding up ratings for each of us.
Two things are striking in the picture. My mom got higher scores. And my mom and I had on totally matching outfits. Luckily I didn’t know it at the time. I might never have left my room.
Once I got all my country bumpkin-ness out of my system, I eventually blended in with normal society. I also eventually married a member of the fraternity of derelicts. They were fun derelicts. And they were nice to my mother.