Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Red Sequin Sneakers

Every year, the local news does the predictable story on college openings, and all the parents moving their student children into residence dorms. I must say I have no regrets about leaving those years behind, but occasionally I do have a flash of memory.

I like strong women—I have celebrated them
here before. In fact, I descend from a line of strong women. And, if there’s one thing that really bugs me it’s a woman who flutters and flits about helpless in the face of a task to be done.

The minute I saw the red sequin sneakers, I should have known. My husband and I had just taken our son to college for his freshman year—that leap into the great unknown. For many young people, attending a college represents a time to test living semi-independently from parents.

Part of the unknown is who a student will room with. The college our son attended did the roommate matching by means of a questionnaire. When it came to the question about neatness, we mistakenly pushed our son to respond that he was not that neat. BIG MISTAKE. Maybe by our home standards he wasn’t neat, but by male college freshmen standards, he was meticulous.

His roommate was a young man from New England whose dad was a doctor and whose mother was. . .the wearer of the red sequin sneakers.

Upon arriving at the college, we went into our son’s assigned room, and began to help him decide how to arrange it. The furniture was stackable, so pieces could be moved around, and even elevated. That required some heavy lifting. Our son pitched in, my husband pitched in, I pitched in. The new roommate and his father pitched in, and the roommate’s mother stood there—fluttering and flitting.

I do confess to being annoyed. As I recall, the only thing she did was say to her son—here’s your pillow from home. A pillow? That’s all she could carry? A pillow? Oh please.

Perhaps the red sequin sneakers should have been seen as a harbinger of the roommate arrangement not working out. When we went to see our son on Parent’s weekend, about two months into the fall semester, the dorm room was somehow different. There was a clear line of demarcation down the center of the room. Our son’s side was remarkably neat; the other side was a disaster zone. And it smelled.

When our daughter began to look at a soft drink can sitting there, our son practically yelled at her—DON’T TOUCH IT! Turns out, the roommate chewed tobacco and any can sitting around was used for. . .—you can figure it out! That partly accounted for the smell. The other contributor to the smell?—used gym clothes dropped haphazardly wherever.

Our poor son! He survived the first year—even exercising grace in the face of such a mismatched roommate environment. Oh, there were other fiascos along the way which do not bear repeating.

Let’s just say that if I ever see red sequin sneakers again—I will turn about face and head the other direction, but fast!


Anvilcloud said...

College roomies are adventures waiting to happen.

Lynne said...

Yikes! It's funny though, that red sequin sneakers bring up such a complicated memory.

NCmountainwoman said...

It is so difficult when one's children are stuck with an awful roommate. Hopefully he can make a change before long.

Anonymous said...

Oh, boy. I don't know anyone who had a GOOD experience with a freshman roommate. I know that I didn't and my husband didn't either. His roomie was much worse though. A punk rocker from London who believed firmly in socialism -- which he enacted by borrowing and breaking pretty much everything that belonged to my husband. Sigh. It's a rite of passage!

Ruth said...

That fluttering, foolish woman in the red sequined shoes likely spoilt her son beyond redemption. Pity any woman in his future who refused to wait on him hand and foot.

KGMom said...

Just a clarification--the red sequin sneaker episode occurred 18 years ago when our son first went to college. He has long since left there--and was able to switch to a great roommate for the rest of his college career.
He met his wife to be in college--who is now his "roommate." So wonderful things came from his time in college, in the end.

Mary said...

HA! My first reaction upon meeting her would have been the same - "Are you here to work or flit?" Shoes can tell a story, for sure.

I'm impressed that your son last an entire school year with a tobacco spitter. My daughter wouldn't have handled it very well.

RuthieJ said...

Well, I feel sorry for red sequin sneaker woman. Obviously she never learned how to take care of herself--either because she never had to or no one ever taught her.
Fortunately for me I grew up watching my mom take care of things herself (because Dad was working) and we all learned good lessons about fixing things and taking care of ourselves from her. And I'm proud to say that if it weren't for learning from my mom, I'd still be waiting for "someone" to install that ceiling fan in the bedroom!

Anonymous said...

*quickly hides red sequin sneekers*
As if! I'm no red sequin sneeker wearer and I'd have told her what else to carry in addition to the pillow! Great story though and a happy ending. I'm a bit of a neat freak and although my son doesn't take after me I think he would fare better than baccy chewing man! :o)
My daughter.... is another story altogether! I only go into her bedroom with one eye open.

dguzman said...

Wow. I'll never look back on my college roommates the same way again! I thought THEY were messy or annoying or gross--your son's old tobacco-chewing cretin makes my roommies look wonderful by comparison!

And AMEN to the value of strong women who can do for themselves! In my case, part of it comes from my upbringing and part from my lesbianism, I think. (Who really knows?) I definitely steer clear of the red-sequin-shoe types!

Susan Gets Native said...

Good grief.
I have mixed feelings about weak, I-don't-know-how-to-do-anything women. I feel bad for them, because as Ruthie said, they never learned how to do for themselves. But I also get really ticked off at them, because when you are an adult, excuses wear pretty thin. My husband has a cousin who makes me crazy. All she knows is shopping and getting the NANNY and her husband or daddy to do and get for her. She was spoiled rotten as a child, but that stopped being an excuse and turns into just a reason a long time ago.
Lorelei's school is FULL of high-maintenance, stooopid mommies, and I hear them all the time complaining about "the help" or how helpless they themselves are. I try very hard not to roll my eyes too overtly. I overheard one of them say that they actually had to call a handy-man to change some lightbulbs in their house. Whaaa? Are you kidding me?
They are definitely red-sequined shoe wearers.
And then there's me...wearing bird-poop-splattered jeans, going off to wrestle a red-tailed hawk and make it bow to my will.
: )