I’m Not So Sure About This ‘Michigan’ Place

By a Fiercely Protective Out-of-State Mother on a University Tour

So let me get this straight, Pat: last night, I flew 500 miles out of Newark, cancelled an alpha-hydroxy peel booked months in advance, and skipped what was arguably one of the most important PTA meetings of the year just to visit a school that won’t even hire a full-grown adult to lead the campus tour? And instead, I’m forced to listen to some twenty-something dipshit in an oversized, dehydrated piss-colored poncho like you? For fuck’s sake! Oh sure, they like to hire kids because you all have a more “authentic feel” for what it’s like to be on campus and eat stale french toast out of a Sodexo feeding trough for breakfast. Well, I’m not buying it, you prevaricating little poster child.

Strike one, Michigan!

What’s that? Well of course we can proceed to the dorms now. I don’t see why you’re acting like I’m the one holding the group up. Ugh, so I guess this is where you could be living next year, Ethan. Reminds me of those cabins you stay in at camp every summer, except they actually put in the effort there to fake the presence of hardwood floors and aesthetically-pleasing ambient lighting. Just think of the cluster headaches all these fluorescent bulbs could cause!

Well, it’s about time we left that place; maybe “the Diag” will be nicer. (That’s what the kids call it, Ethan. You should start saying that too if you want to fit in with these little shits.) Oh look, there’s a big ‘M’ right in the middle there. Kind of ostentatious, don’t you think? Among the deadened landscape, grey skies, and butt-ugly American cars, it’s not like there’s any ambiguity where the fuck we are right now.

Hey, Pat? Pat! Yeah, actually I do have a question. Just a hint, you can tell by the way I’m waving my arm over my head. I’m just wondering a few things: How do I make sure Ethan avoids drugs and alcohol at school? Because that isn’t really our “thing.” How often does the laundry service stop by the dorms? And is there any way to make sure Ethan’s professors make him turn his homework in on a regular basis? When do parent-teacher conferences take place?

I know I may have overwhelmed you, because that’s a lot to ask at once, even of a real adult. But I’m just worried, you know? Next year, he’s going to be here all by himself, except for the few times a semester I come down to make sure he’s on track, and I just want to make sure he blossoms next year. After all, college is all about independence.

Originally published: March 2013

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