Now that high school is over and done, daughter Jess is thinking about college. Right now, her main concern is who she’ll get for a roommate.
Jess’ college sent her a roommate-picking form, which she’s read a few dozen times. Here’s what she knows so far: she can’t tolerate a smoker or anybody who smells like smoke. She doesn’t want a roommate who borrows stuff, stays up too late or plays the kind of loud annoying music that usually comes from teenagers’ cars and trucks.
“What I really don’t want,” Jess told me, “is a weird roommate.”
“Define weird,” I responded.
“A psycho,” she said. “Somebody who pulls out her hair in chunks, or talks to people who aren’t there. Anybody who resembles the Jennifer Jason Leigh character in Single White Female.”
“Well,” I said, “if it makes you feel any better, Jennifer Jason Leigh is 45 years old now. Grandma age.”
“That does help,” Jess said. “But I do worry about one other thing.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“What if I’m the weird roommate?”
“You’ve been living here with your mother and me for 18 years,” I said. “You might be a little eccentric, but you don’t come anywhere close to your own definition of weird.”
“That’s what my friend Anna says,” Jess offered. “She says I’m not weird in an annoying way, just weird in an interesting way.”
“Define interesting,” I said.
“Well, like the other day, Anna called me and asked me where I was. I told her I was at the haircut store. She told me that nobody calls it the haircut store. It’s the stylist, or the hairdresser, or the salon. I said, ‘Everybody at my house calls it the haircut store. It’s like the nervous hospital.’ Then Anna said, ‘What? What’s a nervous hospital?’ ”
“So I told her,” Jess said, “I’ve got an aunt who used to go to the nervous hospital all the time. She’s better now, though, since they invented Risperdal. I started calling it the nervous hospital after I saw Sling Blade.”
Jess continued, “But Anna didn’t know that Sling Blade was a movie, or that Billy Bob Thornton was in it. He plays a guy named Karl.”
So I told her, “Karl is the guy I quote whenever something doesn’t work right. When you hear me say, in a gravelly voice, ‘It ain’t got no gas in it,’ that’s me quoting Karl. He worked on lawn mowers, just like my uncle down in South Carolina. He’s the one married to my aunt who used to go to the nervous hospital all the time, but got better with Risperdal.”
“Did Anna understand all that?” I asked.
“I don’t think so,” Jess replied. “But she did ask me if all the nervous hospital visiting and lawn mower fixing came from your side of the family.”
“I hope you put all that on your mama’s people,” I said.
“Nope,” Jess said. “I told her the truth. Just about all the interesting stuff comes from the Jowers side. You’ve warped me for life.”
“Tell me one way you’ve been warped,” I responded.
“When I was little, you called the TV remote ‘the power.’ You’d say, ‘Hand me the power,’ I’d hand it to you, then you’d change channels, record movies, and stuff like that. After a while, I believed that the real name for the remote was ‘the power.’ Every time I’d go over to a friend’s house to watch TV, I’d say, ‘Give me the power,’ and my friends and their parents would look at me like I was crazy. The moms would ask their kids, ‘What power is it that Jess wants?’ ”
“If that comes up again,” I said, “tell ‘em you’d like to be able to fly, and if it’s not too much trouble, you’d enjoy a little X-ray vision.”
“It got worse,” Jess explained. “Remember when you insisted on calling the Benkay sushi restaurant ‘the jap joint’? Well, I thought that was the real name of the restaurant. Allen and Steve took me over there for lunch one day, and I kept telling them, ‘No! Not Benkay. The jap joint! The jap joint!’ They thought I was crazy, just like the mommies who couldn’t give me the power.”
“I freely admit,” I said, “that I value alliteration over political correctness. Especially when it involves J’s, Jess Jowers. You’ll be in college soon. Your professors will fix you. Or they’ll try, anyway. I’ve got a feeling you might fix some of them.”
“Is that your way of reminding me,” Jess asked, “that if I write like my teachers tell me to write, I’ll be boring?”
“Boring, derivative and bound for the slush pile.” I said. “Never forget that middle school English teacher who marked down your grades because you didn’t write all the way to the margin. And maintain your fiery hatred for that hidebound high school history teacher who spent her career trying to stamp out original thought. Every college kid needs to remember to steer away from the bad stuff they learned in high school, and toward the brilliant teacher or two who can make you better.”
“I’ll be the weird roommate, won’t I?” Jess asked.“No, ma’am,” I said. “I think you’ll be the interesting one.”
About as seriously as bobs invitation to Lock 2 Park.
@Jim Collins: Nixon knew nothing about Watergate until after the fact. He lied under oath…
zumba is like a bad gonorreah contracted from gast, it keeps coming, and coming, and…
is anyone in here taking gast and bobs guns seriously?
We should invite Goad back to town and show him the real Nashville - have…