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MAN OF THE HOUSE

Daddy's little girl goes to college

August 29, 2009|CHRIS ERSKINE

Our Pickett's Charge into the Midwest is a roaring success. We drop off the little girl at a fine school that, for a mere 30 or 40 grand, will keep tabs on her for an entire academic year. Good deal, I say. Heck, she spends that much on Starbucks.

"I'd have paid more," I tell Posh.

"We don't have any more," she says.

"Oh."

By the way, if you're taking a daughter to college soon, might I recommend renting one of those C-130 transport planes, a whopping-big aircraft with abundant trunk space. That's what we did, and it took us only two round-trip flights.

The first load was entirely shoes. The second trip was scarves and scrapbooks. We shipped the rest ahead of time (thanks, UPS!).

Not since the Berlin Airlift has the world experienced anything like this. Evidently, freshman year now requires four tons of clothes, hangers, little clutch purses, cheap IKEA storage units, tape dispensers, tennis rackets, silverware, ramen noodles, gauze. I swear, Posh and I were married 20 years before we accumulated this much junk.

Still, the little girl forgot a few things. Here, in her words, is the e-mail list of items she needs us to send:

-- lavender body lotion that's by my sink

-- hair products near the lamp on my dresser in the bathroom (pink Bed Head bottle, clear shiny bottle with gray top)

-- perfume (Anna Sui on my dresser)

-- hanger clips, they are attached to my shoe rack in my closet

-- one white shoe rack from on top of my closet

-- scarf rings that are hanging from my closet

-- your brown Uggs [meaning her mother's]

-- safety pins

-- Trader Joe's dried mango, trail mix, some Arizona iced tea, any other nice goodies you're willing to throw in. . . .

Hey, kid, how about me? I'm a "goodie." I'd be handy to have around the dorm for a few weeks. Dogs and dads. That's what a real home requires. And the smell of garlic from the kitchen. Not scarf rings. Not Anna Sui perfume.

As you can see, the little girl is a little too brand conscious sometimes, a California kid now living among the children of the corn. Our daughter prefers those big sunglasses that make her look like a bumblebee, and she spends too much on the coolest T-shirts and shorts.

Yeah, she's cool, all right. Wait till her classmates find out she still believes in Santa Claus.

Emotionally, the trip went fine. In an effort to keep us strong, I barely blubbered at all -- at least publicly, which is a nice change for me.

I am, by nature, a "stablist," in the sense of wanting as much stability in life as possible and very little change. All that hooey you hear about change being good is just some MBA motivational tactic. Most change is rotten, and everybody knows it.

If it were up to me, our daughter would still be 8 years old and the only time she would leave is for sleepovers at Amanda's house.

Now, she's at the ultimate sleepover, an American college. I'll never forget standing outside her un-air-conditioned dorm last week, staring up at this four-story cinderblock monstrosity, thinking, "We've really sent her here? Was she convicted of something?"

There were box fans in every single window, so many that I feared her dorm might actually lift from the ground, like that house in "Up."

To keep the building earthbound, we filled it with stuff. Boxes. Suitcases. Our daughter.

When we finally got everything in, we stalled awhile to make sure she was settled. After the third day of this, we decided it was time to say goodbye. By then, I was pretty sure one of us might melt. Turns out I have a heart, for I think I heard it buzzing. Or maybe I inhaled a locust. All I know is that I couldn't speak.

So, so long, baby. Weather is certain to be a factor in your first semester there in the Middle West. First, the blistering heat. Then, the blistering cold.

In between, we hope, there will be one of those glorious Midwestern falls. The big campus is thick with oaks and maples, and they are bound to be aglow in early October. If it's an especially good year, maybe the trees will match the fire in the cheeks of you and your classmates, so fresh-faced and excited about this great escape.

Really, is there anything better than freshman year? I think not.

Back home, amid the click-click-click of the clock on the mantel -- or your too quiet bedroom -- I am working to remember that.

--

chris.erskine@latimes.com

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