Apparently, sturdy bedsheets and snappy storage containers are the bare necessities required for outfitting college students who might test the rigors of dorm living by determining how many roommates it takes to knock over the vending machine in the engineering hall.
Earlier this summer, Nate and I researched the dorm room that Alex had chosen. We drove Alex to Target to pick out bedding, towels, storage containers, laundry bags, and a few other items. And that was it. We breathed a sigh of relief. Disaster averted. Now, however, the clock is ticking, and we have under ninety-six hours to plan Alex’s move-in day, based on new information we’ve just been sent from the university. Our latest plan is now divided into three different lists or strategies:
–Things We Had Anticipated
–Things We Had Not Anticipated
–Planning Like a Pro
Things We Had Anticipated:
–A need for sturdy bedsheets and snappy storage items.
Things We Had Not Anticipated:
–BYOTP: Bring your own toilet paper. Obviously, we thought that universities were just loaded with toilet paper, reams of it hanging from the trees and windows of some fraternity or a dean’s office, but no. That is not the case. Nate and I were tempted to take Alex to Costco for a lifetime-supply of TP, but the snappy storage items we bought him would only stretch so far. The plan now is to buy enough TP for Alex and his roommate for a week or two, and then Alex (and probably his roommate) will come visit us, and we’ll send them home with a few rolls at a time of an entire Costco set.
–Cleaning duty. Housekeeping does not come by to tidy up the room and leave a mint on the pillow. I never stayed in a dorm room when I went to college, but I had friends who did, and they said that housekeeping cleaned their bathrooms and swept their floors every other week or so. That is not the case with Alex’s dorm-room situation. Luckily, he is a valued member of the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks Team who can clean the heck out of a toilet bowl and put that smile on Scrubby, the Scrubbing Bubbles mascot. However, I will have to get him a set of his own supplies now.
–Light cookery (heavily implied). Though there are dorm cafeterias and markets—and we’ve paid quite a bit for a meal plan for Alex—students are encouraged to get some plates, bowls, cutlery, etc. We’re not sure why, but we’ll get some for Alex, in case the cafeteria doesn’t supply these things. We don’t want him to be the only one on campus eating scorching hot macaroni and cheese with his face.
–Light electrical engineering (also implied). He may need extension cords, which are also on the new list of items to bring.
Planning Like a Pro:
–Light sewing and mending supplies (not mentioned or implied). A sewing kit or two could be handy, though I’m not sure what Alex would do with it. I’ve certainly never shown him how to sew. The only person in this family who can sew is Nate, but he’s what I call a “stealth sewer.” He will sew a button back onto a shirt or pants when no one is watching (for his own pants or shirts—not mine. When I lose buttons, I move the injured article of clothing to the back of the closet hoping a new button will grow on it overnight). Nate has offered to show me, and probably Alex, how to do these useful things, but we’d soon become distracted by episodes of SpongeBob.
–Tools (not really implied, but if there’s no toilet paper, how would we not come to other conclusions?) In terms of “tools,” I’m thinking duct tape, a screwdriver (Philips-head and flat- head), hammer, tape measure, pliers, knives, adjustable wrenches, a level—and something for patching up holes with spackle.
–First-aid kit (though the university WILL provide an earthquake grab and go bag, which includes a first-aid kit, which is super cool). Also, Alex was a lifeguard over the summer, so he should know how to administer some first aid, CPR, and water rescues, if the dorm room floods for reasons only college roommates would know about.
On move-in day, I’ll definitely shed a few tears, but I’ll rest easy at night, knowing that Alex will have plenty of toilet paper and something for patching up holes with spackle. So, any late-night vending machine experiments that end in disaster will be taken care of on several levels, thanks to our planning.
In Other News: I have a new short story up at a brand-new literary magazine: The Other Folk: “Fables for the Dying” series. It’s a mostly humorous and somewhat dark piece called “Photo Shoot with Possessed Bunnies.” I had a lot of fun writing this one. Enjoy!
Your Turn: What item did you need or use the most when you lived on your own for the first time?