A high school classmate posted this Washington Post essay on Facebook with a comment about how true it is. My first reaction was jealousy — who gets to natter on about wet towels for pay? Somehow I missed out on a gig like that.
But then I experienced another layer of envy. I, too, have a college student home for the summer. It’s not the towels that bother me, it’s the beer.
Let me explain.
Our son will not reach legal drinking age until November 2017—precisely 17 months from today, as a matter of fact. Nonetheless, a few days after he arrived home for the summer, three cans of Coors Light mysteriously appeared in the refrigerator. He had been at a friend’s house the night before, so I remarked that it was very nice of them to send those beers home for David and me, and he laughed.
Then David discovered the cardboard cover from a 30-can “suitcase” of beer in the recycling bin. We mildly inquired how it had gotten there.
Christopher promptly explained that he brought the offending cardboard and three leftover beers home from the friend’s house, because leaving them there “wouldn’t have been cool.” We gathered from this reasoning that other under-age drinkers had been at the gathering as well.
Who bought the beer? Curious parents want to know.
Christopher went on to inform us that Rose Liquor, which is in a dodgy part of Long Beach, does not card its customers. He claimed that he, personally, didn’t buy the beer, but chipped in like a good sport of course.
I know college students drink. Some of them, a lot. I also recognize that I have a highly developed and oversensitive radar about this issue, coming from a long line of intractable alcoholics who trashed their entire lives and the lives of their families. We’ve talked about genetic risk with Christopher since he was in grade school.
But now I confined the conversation to more direct, less abstract topics. Not smart to be in dodgy neighborhoods at night. Risky to drink at 19, when brain cells are still developing. Understand that if anyone overdoes it and ends up in the ER or crashes the car after drinking Rose Liquor libations you’ve brought to a party, you’re going down.
When kids are away at college, you know they’re doing this stuff there, too, but in a way you don’t have to know. Having the evidence in my face, my refrig, and my recycling bin makes me wish that all I needed to worry about were wet towels strewn on the floor.