••• Friday, September 16, 2005


Remember the Post That Won't Be Written? It done got writ. It really was a snap, once I figured out the problem. It was this here picture. It messed up the story. I think it was trying too hard.

Figuring this thing out ended up being a bad news/bad news story. The bad news is that I don't get to use the picture in my post. And the other bad news is that removing the picture was kind of like taking a blog dump, in that it cleared the way for me to post this long, boring-ass tale.

So let it be written....

Begin the B'Guy
I may have mentioned that my son's first night away at college was somewhat difficult, for both of us. And included at least two tearful, child initiated phone calls.

Keep in mind, we're talking about a nearly nineteen year-old man-child. He isn't about to call his momma from college and cry "I wanna come home."

Hell no. He's a guy. Almost. He’s a boy-guy.

So, the boy part of the boy-guy calls home, apparently in need of his mother. But the guy part of the boy-guy can’t just call up his mother and tell her that he’s lonely and scared.

No. He’s gotta call his mother on the phone and talk some crap. More precisely, he's gotta call his mother up on the phone and indignantly imply that the computer she bought him for college, is flawed. He knows this to be true, because he hasn’t been able to access the university internet system, after about, ummm, three minutes of trying.

After reassuring him that his new laptop contains all the technological blessings necessary for a fruitfully wired college experience, I reluctantly confess that I am unable to help him with this particular problem. Leastways, not at 11:00 pm, from a distance of 180 miles.

Unable to fathom this vague abandonment, he starts to cry.

I’m lonely.
I’m homesick.
I just want to get on line and talk to my friends.
I hate it here.
He says.

Now I'm crying, but hiding it pretty well. But, I’m tellin’ ya, it was all I could do to keep from saying: Sit tight, honey. I’ll be there in two hours, with your own personal tech crew in tow.

But I didn’t say that. Instead, I suggested something even less plausible, to a boy on the cusp of guyhood: Is there someone you can ask for help?

Can you ask someone for help?
Like who?
A Roommate?
The RA?
What's an RA?
Someone on your floor?
What floor?

Luckily, this particular discourse brought me to my emotional senses. The moment of pain had passed. And we say goodbye.

Twenty minutes later, he calls again, and tells me that he was almost online, but was now getting error messages. Messages he proceeds to read. To me. So I can help him. But I can’t help him. For the words are without meaning. And once again, I am helpless to ease his pain.

For the record, I am not one of those moms. You know, of the helicopter variety. In fact, as mother’s go, I’m more of the “Don’t let the chopper prop hit you in the ass…” ilk. Really.

But this is a delicate situation. This is the sort of experience that could stick in a son’s mind forever. That being said, how a mother responds at a moment like this, can have lifelong implications. That is why, at times like this, a mother will do all that she can.

Some call it love. I call it ass-coverage. That way, if a boy becomes so traumatized by not having internet access on his first night at college, that he eventually throws his life away on vintage skank and midnight bowling leagues, he can’t blame his mother. Because she was there. For him. Dammit.

Which is precisely why, after another tearful goodbye, I got on the university website and found out there is a 24-hour tech support hotline. (That's where Ms. Cleo was gonna come in...but didn't. Who knew?) And, if the hotline hotties are of no avail, I tell him there is a computer lab in his sister dorm (joined at the cafeteria), open 24 hours a day. A place for him to procure immediate, internet satisfaction.

I called him with the good news.
He was not impressed.

Are you going to call the tech line?
Uh, probably not.
How about the computer lab?
Maybe later. I’m watching football.

The next day, my son called me no less than a dozen times, with cheerful updates on his internet hookup progress. Evidently, his roommate not only knew how to get this thing going, he even had software to share, to expedite the process.

By mid-afternoon (about call number 9) my son was talking to me on his cell phone, while Instant Messaging buddies, all over the country. He was happy and chipper and back to his old self. And eagerly awaiting my visit, tomorrow.

At 12:30 Sunday, I call him to say we're leaving home and will be at his dorm at 2:30 sharp.

At 2:15, about 10 miles from campus, I get a call on my cell and hear that he just found out there is a mandatory dorm floor meeting at 2:30. It probably won't take too long, but we might want to drive around awhile.

Well, we didn’t drive around for awhile, because this is North Bumfuck, Michigan. There’s no place to go. So we arrive at the dorm. And wait. In the lounge. For one hour and ten minutes.
Which was plenty long enough to read and re-read and read again, the posters, hanging on the walls of the main hallway (a hallway that runs from my son’s floor, through the lobby, and on to the cafeteria. Where he eats. Daily). On these posters was the Welcome Weekend, dorm itinerary, covering a four-day period (Thursday thru Sunday. My son arrived on Friday. Today was Sunday. You do the math.)

And on these posters, it was written: Sunday, August 28, MANDATORY FLOOR MEETINGS…… 1st floor, 2:30. 2nd floor 3:30, etc.

Next to each of the dorm activity posters, was a professionally-done, hugely fonted poster, with the heading: Can’t Get on the Internet? A Tech Support team is available 24-hours, in this dorm, through September 10…or you can call this number...blah blah blah.

After sitting in the hot, stuffy lobby for over an hour, for no good reason, the reunion with my not-so-long-lost-idiot, was none too cheerful. Of course I had to ask: "I'm guessing you didn't see the posters in the lobby, with the weekend schedule and the mandatory floor meetings, and the 24-hour tech support? Here? In your dorm?”

What Posters? He says.

Be still my throbbing head beating heart!
My sweet baby boy has done grown. Into a Guy.

Post Post Note: He’s coming to town for his first-home-from-college visit. He’s catching a ride with his best friend and fellow Guy. No doubt, with two uncharged cell phones in tow. No map. Or money. I hear Toledo is beautiful this time of year.

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