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!