Every year in late spring, parents of college students all over America travel to university campuses with stylish IKEA storage bags or (in our case) cardboard boxes that once held bulk orders of toilet paper and tortilla chips.
When the parents arrive, they joyfully greet their academically-hungover children and start the arduous and sometimes pungent process of “un-dorming.”
My wife and I recently drove in our decrepit but cavernous 2013 SUV to move our middle daughter and her dirty laundry back home from college. Upon our arrival to campus, we were immediately confronted by sympathetic glances from other dads in sweat-soaked T-shirts and beleaguered moms whose expressions belied their incredulity at how their children could possibly have spent an entire academic year living like this.
When we entered our daughter’s dorm complex, apparently built sometime during the late Pleistocene era, I immediately began to feel itchy. My sensations didn’t improve on our elevator ride to her room as the belt made a screeching noise that sounded like it had recently been repaired with Scotch tape and Flex Seal (as seen on TV).
Once we started the cleaning and packing process, I noticed the following repeated conversations between us and our daughter:
Parents: “Where is (insert missing item purchased at beginning of academic year for dorm room)?”
Daughter: “I threw that away. It was gross.”
Parents: “What happened to (insert expensive and stained/damaged clothing/footwear item purchased at the beginning of academic year)?”
Daughter: “I’m not sure. It got wet somehow.”
We eventually stopped asking questions, and I decided to retreat to the bathroom our daughter shares with her suitemates. I could barely navigate my way to the toilet as the place looked like it had been ransacked by cross-dressing Russian mercenaries.
In fact, I almost stepped on what looked like two deceased flesh-toned jellyfish about the size of fruit bowls. When I emerged from the bathroom holding them up about chest-high, my daughter shrieked,
“Dad! Put those down! They’re not mine!”
Naturally, I then wore them as a hat.
Once we had everything packed up, I made a final sweep with the vacuum cleaner and noticed that it wasn’t sucking up the plethora of discarded contact lenses and Goldfish cracker crumbs from the musty carpet.
I immediately exhausted my mechanical expertise by checking the dust canister and removing enough hair to reconstruct a young woolly mammoth. (I’m still waiting for my medal.)
When the community assistant came in to examine the room for our final checkout, she noticed that a sliver of paint had been removed from the wall when my daughter had pulled off her adhesive LED lights. The CA then indicated that we would be charged a small fine for repairs — despite my protests that the room already looked like the dilapidated barracks of a Victorian madhouse when my daughter first moved in.
Oh, well. At least we got our daughter back home for the summer — and I’m hoping I’ll stop itching before we have to move her back next fall.