May 27 2005
An open letter to my brother-in-law Richie Demato, who just graduated from St. Augustine High School and is now headed for the University of Central Florida.
So you’re a college boy now, huh? Think you’re pretty special, I bet. Like you’re on top of the world. Well … you are! How I wish I was going back to college. People send you money there. That spigot shutdown for me a long time ago.
But I thought I would pass along some of my hard-earned wisdom that I think can help make your college experience much better (or at least more interesting). Here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Personal hygiene and laundry are not for wussies. It’s for people who don’t want to end developing five kinds of fungus, including a portabello mushroom farm on their back.
My roommate in college, a good friend named Don, did not wash his bed sheets for an entire year. Not once. They began the year navy blue and ended a color that had never been discovered before. Investigating scientists named it College Crud 186.
Young Don was also not known for doing laundry on a timely basis. As the No. 1 cross country runner at Flagler, this often meant some creative running outfits. One day I remember him rushing in to get ready and realizing he had nothing but a paper towel to wear for a shirt. Having already worn the paper towel the day before, and too fashion conscious to wear it two days in a row, he began digging through a hamper of clothes that smelled like a cheese shop in a week-long blackout.
He picked a tank top that was the least gag-inducing, gave it a spritz of Polo cologne and declared it good-to-go. A green haze rose up from the shirt, and the doorway swelled as he passed through. The coach thought the team was on drugs because everyone running with Don had bloodshot eyes.
• Remember that beer is not one of the major food groups. And while it might look cool in movies, pouring it over cereal only makes it taste like an ash tray.
• Understand that a balanced diet must consist of more than bread, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. Listen, you go four years living on only pizza and you’ll end up like a guy I knew who still looks and smells like a stick of pepperoni.
• Be afraid, be very afraid, of the day when your college sends that list of “things” they say you need for school. If you can, don’t let your mother see it … EVER! That list is filled with a kingdom of items you will never want, and as a guy, most likely will never use. College supplies are like your appendix — they’re worthless.
But someone will buy them all for you, and because you’re a nice guy, you won’t throw them away … ever. I still have a miniature tool kit with a hammer the size of a bottle opener. Never been used.
This list might include: a shaving kit (you will shave only once in your college career), a laundry hamper (sometimes re-usable as a beer can recycler), a staple remover (1963 was the last recorded year in which a staple remover was used), yaffa blocks (don’t ask), a spoon, a knife and a fork that can be clipped together (but never unclipped), and an iron and miniature ironing board. (The miniature ironing board is so you can iron all the clothes you shrink in the dryer because you didn’t listen to your mother.)
• Get yourself a hot plate. Even though we’re living in a world where proper food is much more plentiful for the average college student, no one should ever graduate and enter the real world without heating up a can of Beanie Weenies in their dorm room. It’s a time-honored tradition. Like beer in your cereal.
Now good luck and enjoy.