Monday, August 4, 2014


Over the weekend, my wife and daughter made a pilgrimage to the mecca of Bed, Bath & Beyond. It wasn't just any journey, mind you, but one to pick up supplies for our daughter's move to college in a couple of weeks. 

Trust me, this is all a girl needs.
When I went to college the first year, I brought clothes, sheets, a towel, a beat-up typewriter, soap, shampoo, and some record albums. Probably two suitcases and one cardboard box. Could have dragged it onto a Greyhound bus if I had to.

This wasn't the case for my daughter. She's a girl, you see. And my wife was a girl in her day as well. Girls and former girls alike need things. Lots of things. Things boys and former boys don't need. I mean, who wears flip-flops to take a shower? Girls!

The newest model from
Hygiene had its place for boys, I suppose, but not everywhere. For instance, my college didn't allow refrigerators except for medical reasons. So when I was a sophomore, my roommate kept a six-pack of Schlitz cold by putting it in the toilet and flushing it from time to time. No one was using the toilet for the usual toilet reasons -- and the cans were, of course, unopened -- so there was no reason to feel that this was particularly unsanitary. 

Now if you're thinking, Boy, that roommate of yours sure was an idiot! -- well, that roommate of mine was Denis Leary. He's currently shooting his next sure-to-be-hit series for FX. Look where I am: blogging from my dining room. Say it like Edward G. Robinson: Who's the idiot now?

My girls aren't idiots. But, boy, can they shop! They were wise enough to ask me to stay home instead of joining them on their expedition, and a few hours later I knew why. They returned home empty-handed. Not because it wasn't a successful outing. Far from it. It was so good they arranged to have it delivered later that day. Their one souvenir was the receipt -- the longest receipt, I believe, since the last time a girl went shopping for college supplies.
And it was two inches taller than
Dr. Miguelito Loveless.

It was four feet long, the height of an average nine year-old. Putting it another way, it was taller than an average eight year-old. Do I make myself clear? You could measure the receipt against a normal human being -- and come out on top! 

My eyes blurred as I scanned the purchases. There were the usual suspects: Neutrogena. Maybelline. Dove Body Wash. (Body wash? Whatsamatter with a bar of soap?)
Then there were other items that Cro-Magnons like me couldn't decipher. Swisspers. Harmon Puffs. Goody Elas. Hev Elastics. The list went on like that, a code waiting to be cracked by Naval Intelligence.

And as for the cost of this dormitory shopping derby... Let's just say my wife earned enough points to buy a first class ticket to Malaysia. Unless she flew Malaysian Airways. Then she had enough to fly 50 miles off the coast of Australia or thereabouts.

The delivery arrived a few hours later -- total weight, 68 pounds -- in two large boxes, plus one mattress cover. (Mattress cover? That's what the sheet's for!) My girls opened the boxes like giddy children on Christmas morning. The first box almost exploded like a jack-in-the-box from the pressure of the dozens of items enclosed. The second, quite light, was another story. It contained a white, fluffy chair-pillow that they didn't buy.

A dark gloom fell over the girls. If they sent us a pillow-chair we didn't buy... that means they forgot to include one item we did buy! No one was up for plowing through it all, so I volunteered for the next day's suicide mission. I would go through the box, item by item, and check off each one against the receipt, while my wife and daughter went to New Jersey to have lunch with my mother-in-law. Man, was that a disappointment. Once I had the place to myself the following morning, there was no point in indulging in a shower. (Remember what I said about boys and hygiene?) Slipping on the right mood music -- Paul McCartney outtakes -- I settled in to the task ahead of me. Two hours and one leftover portion of homemade chicken lo mein later, I had gone through the contents, checking off each item with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker.

But one item on the receipt remained unchecked -- the mysterious-sounding Slim Red 4142. Was this a cowboy from outer space? A new kind of medical marijuana? A photo of a blues singer currently incarcerated in Sing-Sing? 

Well, the girls will know, right? Uh-uh. Arriving home, they, too, were perplexed by Slim Red 4142. It would be up to me to get to the bottom of this when I returned the pillow-chair the next day.

I arrived at B B & B shortly after its 9:00 a.m. opening. After explaining the circumstances of the unwanted pillow-chair, I pulled out the receipt and pointed out the missing Slim Red 4142, with the question, "What is this thing?" She and another customer service rep plugged in the information and returned with the answer: the flip-flops for the shower -- the one item I counted that I had neglected to check off the receipt.

Once again, with feeling: Who's the idiot now? Damn her useless hygiene.


1 comment:

Kevin T said...

So much to look forward to. I dropped my 11 year old off at sleep away camp yesterday. They changed the checkin procedure. Usually I parked by her cabin after I got the number. No biggie. This year I had to park not do close. I wish her trunk weighed 68 pounds. Almost threw my back out. When I pick her up, I'm parking by the damn cabin.