Apparently the college where my kids are headed next month will attempt to enforce a 1-hour limit on parent help during move-in day.
I say ‘attempt’ because I have a hard time imagining anyone limiting my Armenian-American spouse to just 60 minutes of feathering the nest for her kids.
I mean, I suppose the Chinese Communist Party could make a solid run at stopping her.
But also? They would fail.
And certainly a university — without advanced weapons or at least campus-wide security deployments — will fail too.
I worry that Aleen’s shenanigans will be stressful for me as a bystander.
Who am I kidding? Chances are astronomically low that I won’t be dragged into the mess as a miserable and ineffective co-conspirator.
As a general rule, our most successful operations are ones which start with Aleen saying, “Keep your mouth shut. You know nothing. Keep your eyes on me.”
I actually prefer those instructions. I’m a bad liar and tend to collapse like a house of cards under the first, weakest whisper of official scrutiny.
Disguises seem like an obvious tactic Aleen may explore.
And by ‘Aleen,’ I mean ‘Aleen and me.’
I really don’t want to wear a costume. But if she puts a gun to my head — which isn’t out of the question — I just hope the fabrics are breathable.
I’m alarmed that my old college roommate, Bob Baxter, has a child moving in on the same day. I made the mistake of sharing with him my anxiety over Aleen’s antics.
“Looking forward to the show,” he texted back.
So now there’s the double embarrassment of not only wearing a clumsy, sweaty disguise on a sweltering August day, but also being heckled by Baxter along the way.
“HEY BUDDY, CAN’T YOU READ?? THERE’S A ONE-HOUR LIMIT!”
When I was growing up in Maryland, my older brothers were outdoor types. They would exit their bedroom windows on the third floor and practice rope climbing. They’d move easily up and down the exterior of our home with ropes and carabiners.
Okay, their real motive was less to practice climbing and more to avoid my mother’s panther-like pounce at 2am if they tried to re-enter the house through more traditional means, i.e. doors.
“BOBBY, YOU SMELL LIKE A BREWERY,” was a nighttime exclamation which my slumbering 4th-grade self was not unfamiliar hearing.
I tell you all this because, like an idiot, I have told my wife these same stories. I worry she’ll see rope-climbing as a possible strategy.
Not that she or I could scale any walls. But it’s not beyond imagining that she’ll pay for one or both my brothers to fly in. She’s aggressive like that. And my brothers are annoyingly fit, even at 59 and 61. They’d be game for a Mission Impossible challenge, especially if it would stress me out.
Scheming wise, Aleen subscribes to the kitchen-sink method. So we’ll likely be doing all of it that day — the costumes, and my brothers scaling walls, and security guards being bribed, and a couple of absurd, easily disprovable medical conditions which supposedly make the 1-hour rule ‘dangerous and unreasonable’ for Aleen and me to follow.
Odds are roughly 2-to-1 I’ll be walking with a cane that day.
You may say, ‘Kit, just put your foot down.’
I haven’t put my foot down in 25 years.
I did remind her that I arrived at college all by myself back in 1986. No parents! Just me and a duffel bag!
But here’s the thing about my beloved spouse. She gives zero fucks what I did back in 1986.
My son tried to allay my fears. ‘Dad, I think maybe it’s a two-hour limit, not one.’
Won’t matter. The number is beside the point. That there is a limit at all is the point. The college could set the limit at 56 hours. Aleen’s brain would still shift into overdrive.
We need 57!
You may also say, ‘But Kit, you named her in this essay. You have blown her cover.’
Hahahahaha. If only it were that easy.
I wish I were blowing her cover.
Even if I did — and I’m starting to feel like you’re not fully grasping this part — it would. Not. Matter. A blown cover would be just one more thing for her to work around on D-day.
I suppose I could post a picture of her here.
At least that would give campus security a fighting chance.
Looks harmless enough, right?
DO NOT BE DECEIVED. If you are campus security and you see this woman on Aug. 27, don’t wait for costumes, rope-climbing, any of it. Arrest her immediately. Don’t wait for back-up. And — super important — do NOT honor her request to ‘speak with a supervisor.’
Once the whole Russian-doll supervisor nonsense begins, you are toast, and my brothers are in the background making one successful ascent after another.
You know what? Better yet, arrest me.
Hold me indefinitely.
Because that’s how long my wife’s move-in process will take.