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September 3, 2013

VILLAGE IDIOT: The sad art of going back to school

Junior and Missy’s parents are driving them 12 hours away from their hometown to The University of Getting Out of My Parents’ House. Sure, there are plenty of local community colleges and state schools they could have attended, but then they would have to come home every night to live with those stupid cash machines who raised them. They’d sooner marry someone their parents hate than live at home another day. And they will, but first Junior and Missy will have to waste $200,000 getting useless degrees in Binge Drinking and Hooking Up, or as colleges and universities like to call it, “Communication Studies.”

The hotels this week are full and the stores are packed with college freshmen and their parents shopping for just the necessities, the things you really need to get good grades in college — full-length mirrors, hairdryers, juicers and Keurig coffee machines. All the things the parents wished they had when they went to college but couldn’t afford. Junior and Missy won’t be staying in a dorm, silly; their parents have bought them a condo near campus where they can really crack the books — and host nightly beer pong parties.

What is truly stunning is how plain it is that the incoming freshmen cannot stand being in the presence of their parents. It’s as if the parents, especially the moms, are wearing an invisible force-field that smells like skunk. If their teenager gets too close to them, the kid’s nose wrinkles and their eyes go rolling. You can read the expression as if it were on a banner in foot-high letters over their head: “Why can’t you just give me all the money I need and leave? I can do everything myself!”

Everything, that is, except earn the money that makes the whole scam possible. The parents don’t seem to notice that all their buying isn’t making the kids love them more; if anything, it makes the rift bigger. Parents are tossing money down a deep hole of resentment that gets deeper with each dollar spent.

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