Before school ended last May, Oldest was set to participate in the "room draw" – a lottery in which you are assigned a room for the coming academic year – with his slacker friend, Eli. I didn’t know just how much of a slacker Eli is until I learned that he had show up for the draw without the one requirement – a card to prove that he didn’t owe the school any money for tuition, parking tickets or graffiting his dorm room.
Long story short, no room for Oldest and his uber-slacker friend. They were put on a wait list and told they would be assigned a room in August.
Anyone who knows me would suspect that this act of lameness and irresponsibility on Eli’s part did not endear him to me. Oh, not in the slightest. NOT. AT. ALL. I gave Oldest multiple earfuls about the importance of picking friends who will actually pull their weight, the impossibility of his living off campus this year and, for good measure, more on how important it is to pick a roomate who knows enough to bring a highly publicized required card with him to something as momentous as a room draw. He listened to me – or pretended to listen to me – but went far short of taking my advice to ditch Eli as a friend.
He insisted it would all work out.
Anyone who knows me would suspect that "It will all work out" has never been even remotely in the running for my motto.
I am the kind of person who insists that if it all works out, it is because someone (Gee, I wonder who that could be?) worked their butt off to make it all work out.
Oldest, though, takes after his father. Mate is the man who once, when I woke him up in the middle of the night a few weeks before Oldest was born and proceeded to ask him what, exactly, the future was going to bring, how were we going to take care of a newborn baby, and my God, how were we going to afford a child, calmly replied, "It’s going to work out. We’re going to win the lottery." I responded to this news by saying, "Oh. OK," rolled over and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep. And that is why we are still married lo these nineteen years later.
As August approached and with it the day that Oldest would learn which of the the secret stash of rooms that the school keeps (who knew?) for situations such as this would belong to him and Eli for the year, I kept silently hoping (as only horrible mothers do) that they would get, if not a terrible room, then at least one in a less than stellar dorm. I know this is petty and small of me so please don’t leave me comments to that effect, but it is born out of genuine belief that screwing up SHOULD HAVE SOME CONSEQUENCES, DAMMIT! How on earth was Oldest ever going to learn to pick responsible friends, graduate, find professional and personal passions and live happily ever after if he never had to face any consequences for his habit of picking slacker friends?
Cut to the day in August when Oldest found out that he and Eli had each received room assignments but not, alas, together and not in one of the primo dorms. (Yes, I did have to suppress a gleeful smile and strive mightily for an expression of studied concern, thank you very much.) Then Oldest found out that some friends of his who were below him on the wait list had lucked out and received not only a room together but in the best dorm on campus. Since a finicky attention to fairness has always been a hallmark of his personality, he was not pleased.
He asked me to call the school on his behalf. "I’m not good at conversations like that," he wheedled, "and you are." He’s heard me yelling at hapless customer service representatives for 19 years now so he knows that, I in fact and if I do say so myself, excel at said conversations. I refused to rise to his bait, however, and neatly foiled his plans by replying mildly that practicing was probably in order.
Needless to say, because he is the kind of guy who believes that it will all work out, he did not, after all, challenge the assignment and a few days later I heard him telling one of his non-Eli friends that he was happy to have a single.
And while it did warm my cold motherly heart to hear that the pernicious influence of Eli would be at least a few doors away, I still trusted that the room Oldest was belatedly assigned would, in the way of ideal natural consequences, be less than, well, ideal.
When he called yesterday to tell us he had arrived, he immediately listed off a litany of things wrong with the dorm and his room. And yes, there stirred in my heart the faintest glimmer of the satisfaction, the kind you get when you don’t actually have to say "I told you so" outloud because, well, it would just be cruel.
And then my Oldest said brightly, "But the good news is… I have a great view,"
He does, doesn’t he?