RUSHVILLE — Pardon the tear stains on this column but we've just dropped No. 3 son off for his freshman year of college and my wife can't stop crying. Or laughing. Or crying.
Tears of joy, tears of sentimentality, and laughter, oh, the sweet laughter of knowing we're a little closer to experiencing that mystical thing called “the empty nest.” That is, of course, assuming No. 3 matriculates successfully, commences with a degree, and gets a job other than his current one, which is mowing our lawn.
Following in the footsteps of my No. 1 son, No. 3 could only satisfy his yearning for higher education at dear old EOSU -- Expensive Out Of State University. The silver lining in this is that he isn't going to his first choice of school, BOSU -- Bankrupting Out of State University.
No. 3 isn't going to exactly the same EOSU as No. 1 -- although interestingly, they both have the same initials: B.U. No, this does not – I hope – mean “Bankruptcy Underway.” The actual particulars are that No. 1 went to Butler U., in Indianapolis, whereas No. 3 is at Belmont U., in Nashville, Tennessee.
Belmont has a lurvely little campus, south of downtown Music City, and steeped in some history. The first building on what is today the Belmont campus was a mansion, built in 1849 by a wealthy socialite and businessperson named Adelicia Acklen Hayes Cheatham. The joint has 36 rooms, which is plenty of space for both classrooms and dorms, and thus, today, it remains the only building on the Belmont campus.
Kidding! There are now over 5,000 undergrads at Belmont, and they could never all fit into Adelicia Acklen Hayes Cheatham's old digs – although I bet they'd have a blast trying.
Nowadays, the Belmonters live in places like the one where No. 3 is bunked, Pembroke Hall. Pembroke is right in between Potter Hall and Patton Hall. Yes, the Belmont dorms are just like P's in a pod.
Which is a “laugh line” that got only the most forced and strained polite laughter from the young Belmont students I told it to, verifying something No. 3 son explicitly advised me about several weeks ago, as we were planning the day when we'd drop him off at school: “Dad, if you open your mouth, even once, you will without a doubt embarrass me.”
We're not exactly sure how this happened, but somehow, No. 3 got put in a single room. That is, he does not have to share his Pembroke Pad with anyone – there's only enough space for him and 47 of the 50 baseball caps he brought.
(He packed all his lids in one of those gargantuan plastic containers, and scrawled on the pristine white lid “If anything in here gets messed up, I will hurt you.” He says the message was meant for his younger brothers. And me. Because he's seen me eyeballing that old-school style Brooklyn Dodgers cap that he bought to show his admiration for Jackie Robinson.)
Anyway, my wife and I are sorely disappointed in this “no roommate” scenario. It means there won't be anyone around to be exasperated by No. 3's slovenliness! We were counting on that kind of peer pressure to be exerted on him, so that when he returns home for visits and vacations, he'll be at least a LITTLE more housebroken than he is now!
I was so let down that I embarrassed No. 3 by saying something to the Resident Assistant on his floor, an upperclassman whose name is – I don't think there's any harm in mentioning it – Paxton Manly. Really. Which put him instantly on my All-Awesome Belmont Names Team.
Along with another kid in No. 3's dorm – young fella whose first name is Maduag. Doesn't his nickname HAVE to be “Mad Dog”?! Which I asked the kid, further embarrassing No. 3.
But perhaps most embarrassing of all was having 16-year old No. 4 son mistaken by a handful of comely Belmont co-eds as the newly arriving freshman. They mistook him as such because when they bounded up and said “Welcome to Belmont!!” (which got a cartoonish eye-roll from No. 3), No. 4 did some fast thinking – he quickly responded “Happy to be here! Show me around?!” And off they went.
We think he's enrolled and living in Potter Hall, because he didn't come back home with us.