The Middle Child is in her last semester of college. Laura and I are visiting her this week, and this is probably our last visit to Tucson before Courtney graduates in May so I’m waxing sentimental. Over dinner last night we were sharing memories, eating ourselves silly, and enjoying more than our fair share of giddiness. I don’t think we were bothering our dining neighbors though, because there seemed to be nary a break in their conversation about cholesterol, heart medication, Tums, digestive issues, and doctors’ visits. As is the case with Florida, Arizona is one of God’s main waiting rooms, and the discussion between the elderly folk at the table next to us was only adding to our already self-induced giggling. (Please know that I’m not laughing at them, but with them. I know that recent discussions with my friends about perimenopausal symptoms, thyroid conditions, and such like are merely precursors to the discussion topics at the neighboring table last night.)
Courtney regaled us with a memory from her days in the dorms during her freshman year and I thought I’d share it here. Over at Derfwad Manor, the irrepressible Mrs. G. is preparing
herself her daughter for her imminent departure to college in the fall, and so I sense the time is ripe to wantonly dispense unsolicited advice offer my support. When Kristen and Courtney entered college, their father and I thought it best that they live in the dorms during their freshman years. It seemed to us that while they were learning to mix a proper margarita balance the freedom of living in a parent-free environment for the first time with the challenge of going to class with a hangover a full-time college schedule, they would benefit from the semi-structured and time-honored traditions of dorm life. We hoped that it would provide them the opportunity to meet people right away, and to be more fully integrated into what we perceived to be “the full college experience.” That was our hope. What we knew for sure was that whatever else might happen, if they had a room in the dorm with a cafeteria, at least there would always be food and shelter.
In Courtney’s dorms, toasters and toaster ovens were forbidden. I didn’t know that Courtney had saved up enough money from the fifty-cents-per-week allowance that we gave her to buy one and had smuggled it into her room. So I was somewhat amused when I found out that Courtney had set off the smoke detector in her room while making a grilled cheese one afternoon. She said that since it was only the in-room smoke detector, she was able to fan some fresh air near it and got it to turn off right away. According to Courtney, the fire department only responds when the smoke detectors in the hallway are activated, so her rebellious grilled-cheese sandwich making went undetected by The Man. One afternoon, just after my criminal mastermind of a child finished toasting herself another grilled cheese, the dorm-wide fire alarm sounded. Knowing that she’d be evicted from the dorms if she were caught in possession of a toaster oven, Courtney quickly grabbed it, wrapped it in a blanket, and concealed it underneath her bed. Then she headed out into the hallway to evacuate and wait for the fire department to arrive, inspect the building, and then clear the dorm for reentry as required by university rules. In the hallway it was discovered that the alarm had actually been set off by another resident whose paper decorations got too close to a lamp. Courtney was relieved that it wasn’t her grilled cheese that had alerted the authorities. She called me later to tell me about the event.
Courtney: “Mommy, would you have been disappointed in me if I got kicked out of the dorm for having a toaster oven?”
Mom: “I would have been disappointed at your stupidity.”
Courtney: “For having a toaster oven?”
Mom: “No, for hiding it under your bed. Next time the smoke detector goes off, hide it under your roommate’s bed. Duh.”