It’s hard to believe that you’ll soon be leaving for college. This is the moment your father and I have been preparing you for, but that doesn’t make it any easier to let you go. It has been an honor guiding you through the first 18 years of your life.
Although I’m excited to see you begin this new chapter, I can’t help but think of the void you’ll leave behind. I’ll miss the army of teenagers who followed you home to camp out on our sofas and rummage through our pantry. With the amount of food eaten and the space taken up, I could have charged more than Motel 6 on a Saturday night.
I’m also going to miss playing mattress tag with Mr. Insomnia during those long nights when you skipped your curfew. I really enjoyed checking my phone every five minutes for a text and watching the news for accident updates in our area. God knows, you’ve entertained me for years with exciting games such as “No officer, I didn’t mean to drive 70 miles per hour through a school zone” and “Let’s hop on a bus bound for Orlando without telling Mom.” If I hadn’t experienced those heart-stopping moments, I never would have discovered how easily gray hair can be covered up with blonde dye.
You’ve always kept me on my toes and challenged my patience when it came to household chores, like the bathroom with algae growing in the shower, or milk cartons and soggy gym shorts emitting foul odors from under your bed. Without a sink full of crusty dishes and a mile-high pile of dirty clothes, I’ll have far too much time on my hands. This might be the perfect time to turn our empty nest into an alpaca farm.
Before the chaos of moving day begins, I’d like to leave you with some parting words:
Visit the salad bar more than once a week to counteract the mass quantities of burgers, pizza, and chicken wings you are sure to inhale. But stock up on peanut butter and bread — you never know when the daily special at the cafeteria will be calf liver and Brussels sprouts.
Good hygiene is important.
Do not forgo the shower and coat yourself in Axe body spray to mask the smell of your morning jog. Antibacterial soap was invented for a reason. It will also be helpful to keep a box of Q-tips handy at all times. Girls will notice if you’re farming sweet potatoes in your ears. The same goes for your teeth; always floss and brush. It’s not normal for your teeth to look and feel like they’re wearing sweaters. And, for the love of God, don’t forget to trim your toenails. Unless you plan on joining a commune of nocturnal creatures, your nails shouldn’t resemble hobbits’ feet.
Be courteous to others.
Obey the campus noise ordinance rule and keep the volume of your music down. Even though you own speakers the size of box cars, this does not give you license to play music loud enough to make the Resident Assistant’s ears bleed. If the bass vibrations are causing the paint to peel from your walls, it’s time to lower the noise a few decibels.
Another thing about being courteous: It doesn’t matter if you have the appetite of a Viking, you don’t need to prove this by entering every binge eating contest on campus (especially the ones involving beans). This is not the way to start a friendship with the guy you’ll be sharing a 12-by-15-foot dorm room with. Methane gas explosions are grounds for solitary confinement in an underground bunker.
Take sexual relationships seriously.
The safest sex is no sex, but until they invent a male chastity belt, this advice cannot be repeated enough: Use condoms properly. Don’t inflate them into giraffes or ribbed monkeys for the party crowd. This will not impress the ladies.
Don’t give in to peer pressure.
No matter what anyone tells you, chugging shots of Tobasco sauce on a dare by your frat buddies will not score you popularity points. You’ll forever be known as the gullible freshman who spent quality time on the crapper screaming, “Fire in the hole!”
Be grateful for what you have.
It doesn’t matter if your friends are driving new Mustangs or tricked-out trucks that belong in a Monster Jam show. There’s no shame in driving a 1999 Honda Odyssey with missing hubcaps, as long as the engine still runs. Look on the bright side — at least your Flintstone mobile has a floorboard and a gas pedal.
Budget your money wisely.
If your beer expenses exceed your yearly tuition, you’re doing it wrong.
Maintain a clean living space.
Empty the trash regularly. Discard old pizza crusts hidden under your bed before they become an all-you-can-eat bug buffet. German cockroaches and bull ants are not considered exotic pets.
Another word of advice: If your bathroom looks like a petri dish experiment gone awry and smells like a dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant, it’s time for a hazmat suit and a bottle of bleach to attack the fungus growing around your toilet.
Study, study, study.
This must come before you party, party, party — or else you’ll flunk, flunk, flunk.
Don’t rush into a romantic relationship with the first co-ed you meet.
Enjoy your freedom and date a variety of girls until you find the right one. It doesn’t matter how pretty she is or whether or not she can ride the mechanical bull longer than seven seconds. Sharing several rounds of tequila with a woman you hardly know will land your ass at a drive-thru wedding chapel in Las Vegas.
Always be prepared.
Stock up on Gatorade, aspirin, and potato chips — the trifecta of hangover remedies. Keep a pillow in your backpack at all times, too. You never know when you might end up sleeping on a fraternity house roof in your best friend’s bathtub.
Don’t do stupid shit.
If you participate in an office chair relay race down a major highway, don’t expect me to post your bail. Knowing your fondness for lighter fluid and matches, just remember that it’s all fun and games until someone tosses a homemade flame thrower on the Dean’s front lawn.
Cherish your good friends.
These are the buddies who will pick you up at 5:00 a.m. from a dive bar on the outskirts of town. And they’ll never tell a soul that you were wearing Hello Kitty duct tape underwear when they found you passed out on the bathroom floor.
Always keep your sense of humor.
If you wake one morning to Post-it notes covering your bedroom walls and your vehicle cocooned in bubble wrap, learn to laugh it off. Knowing you as I do, your roommates will find out soon enough what the true meaning of karmic retribution is.
Your father and I are thrilled to see you test your independence with the tools you’ve been given. We love you so much and we’re proud of you. We also have every confidence in your abilities and judgment. But if you do happen to get caught with a flame thrower on the Dean’s lawn, please call your siblings to post your bail. Your father and I will be too busy running with the bulls at the AARP convention in Kalamazoo.