Home Is Where the Free Stuff Is

(Rocky Mountain Collegian)

College life is all about getting out and being on your own – learning new things and spreading your wings without the restrictive influence of a parent and/or guardian. Like birds from the nest, we are learning to fly on our own. But soon, the fledging birds shall return to the nest, to bum grubs and do a load of free laundry.

For first-year students, returning home always highlights how new life in the residence halls is. Little things about the old house stand out — food that is prepared in the same hour it is eaten, the odd sound of no one screaming at 4 in the morning. Now that you have this newfound appreciation for how awesome life at home was, how should you best use it?

First, eat as much food as possible. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the type of parent who says, “My, what a growing boy or girl you are,” and not the type of parent who says, “As a responsible young man or woman, you will pay me for those nine pizzas you just ate.” And if you’re really lucky, you’ll have a parent who knows what gender you are.

There are other rich, untapped resources a house presents for the residence hall-entombed freshman. Parents are suckers for any valuable, education-related expenses. To exploit, bemoan how difficult it is taking adequate notes in class, how tired your hands get and how much easier it would be if only you could afford a laptop. Try to sell it for its perceived value as an educational aid, not as its real value as a giant Game Boy.

Things aren’t all peaches and cream with a side of laptop, though. Defining your place in the social hierarchy might be awkward at first – are you a guest or are you a family member? Do you do chores while you are there? Try to make it very clear that yes, you are a family member and entitled to all the neat free stuff that comes with it, but yes, you are a guest and hence do not have to wash the dishes. This may seem a callous way to treat your family members, but remember, they love you so it’s okay.

On that note, you may suddenly become aware of little eccentricities in your family that you were unaware of before. Things that before were taken for granted may now not be so very ordinary, and there might be a relapse into the teenage sentiment that the family is uncool. Try to steer the conversation toward the cool and normal and away from the lukewarm and tepid.

Boy: “Hello mother! How are you doing today?”

Mother: “Do you smell salmon? I swear this whole house smells like salmon.”

Boy: “I am well also! Did you see our game of football last week? We almost won!”

Mother: “Oh wow, how long has this turkey been thawing in the oven? I didn’t know turkey could smell like salmon.”

If you’ve moved out of the residence halls and are no longer a freshman or one of their kind, visits home are less eventful. You have your own food, you do your own laundry, why visit? To spend time with your family and friends.

Just kidding. Of course it’s for the free stuff. When you visit, make sure you’re wearing tattered, threadbare clothes. If you do it right you can spin sympathy into a shopping trip and get totally glammed up on your parent’s pocketbook. A rookie mistake here would be to wear dirty clothes – this does not convey poverty, this conveys hippiness. And hippies do not get a new wardrobe, they get told to get a job and a haircut.

Visiting home doesn’t just have to be a dutiful pilgrimage for holidays and birthdays. Remember, visits can be fun, and, most importantly, profitable!

Copyright Rocky Mountain Collegian