The Money Pit

Moneypit I was thinking of posting a picture of a fishing hole -- the traditional "On Vacation" marker.

Yes, I'm off until after Labor Day. It's the first time I'm pausing the fact parade since the metro column began in late February.

Truth is, there's no fishing hole, no sandy beach, no bright green digestif overlooking a cypress grove. I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying home, working around the house and attending to things left undone for the past half year.

Oh, and I'm wondering how to pay for two college tuitions, starting the end of the month. The good thing is it's only money, as my friend Joe used to say.

(Joe grew up in Mamaronek, NY, and his dad was circulation manager of the New York Daily News, so presumably he was in a position to devalue money. Me, we'll be completely broke and in debt when this is all over. Let us eat Ramen.)

We've got quite the punch list around here: fill in holes in the blacktop, bushwhack the back 40, remove heavy limbs torn down by storms, pick up leaves ignored last fall, fix that classic 1950s toilet whose innards I spent $600 bucks to replace recently (because it doesn't stop running, and everynight I stumble through the dark to rattle the handle into silence.)

And then there's packing. Two boys headed for college, two directions at once. One of their schools has produced a helpful list of items.

There's all sorts of crap that I don't remember taking, although my dad has memories of a family station wagon pointing west 33 years ago -- so stuffed he had to use unleaded gas or else he'd scrape the muffler.  Ba-dum!

One item on the list gives me pause. An ironing board.

"You get a receipt for that?" I asked my wife when I realized she'd picked up not one but two mini ironing boards. She had. She's a pro.

I cannot imagine the boys ironing anything while they are in college. I have no memory of ever ironing anything -- even when we had these bizarre rushing-the-season rituals called "formals" where we'd dress up in suits and escort young  ladies to giant Chicago hotel ballrooms where 11-piece band murdered Earth Wind and Fire tunes. Maybe I rented a shirt. Maybe I bought a new one. No memory.

Ironing boards.

I have to say I had a second thought when I saw them:

They'd make cool little bars.

Tom Goodman
Posted 08/28/2007 08:50:17 AM

Ironing board???!!! I'd seriously question the relevance of whoever put that list together! Every kid who goes off to college these days takes along at least a cell phone for chats with the home front while strolling through the quad. I recall speaking to my parents from college via the telephone once a week if that and I was very close with my mother and father. The phone was a pay phone at the end of the hall in the freshman dorm. I think it was on our floor though it might have been one floor above or below. When I was a student abroad living in Madrid my folks traveled to northern Europe. The plan was for me to call them in London. I went to the central telephone building in the heart of Madrid, placed a call to their hotel and more than an hour later an operator directed me to booth number such-and-such where she connected my call. Thirty plus years later my step-daughter called me from Florence, where she was spending a semester. She was walking down the street (motorcycles roaring in the background) chatting with me on her cellphone. But ironing boards? No way.

daniel rubin
Posted 08/29/2007 08:16:40 AM

Yeah, last night we heard by phone from son A, who flew to school yesterday afternoon. (He starts off with a three-week trek. We drive his stuff out later.) Landed, he said. I heard laughter in the background, a young woman's voice. Wonderful, the school had sent someone to pick him up. Then, more laughter, this time shared. I'm guessing he'll survive.

Sally Swift
Posted 08/30/2007 10:09:30 PM

And son B? It's amazing how independent they are compared to their parents left helpless at home.

daniel rubin
Posted 08/31/2007 06:14:09 PM

Ah, I'm in his dorm room at Hampshire now, typing on a better computer than I own. He's got a double, sharing it with a guy from Downingtown, of all places, who can flat-out play his Martin guitar. Son B's off in a few minutes to Friday night orientation. Parents have been invited to leave by 7 p.m. I am sure at that hour we will hear a collective, happy roar. (From kids and, quietly in their cars, as they turn up the music, their parents.)

Sally Swift
Posted 09/04/2007 05:35:56 PM

So, how'd it go? Happy roar or Hmm, not quite as happy as we thought...

Posted 09/04/2007 07:43:16 PM

said goodbye, then turned up springsteen at hammersmith, real loud, all happily roaring.

Posted 09/10/2007 07:29:19 PM

Your column's back, don't forget your blog! You might be interested in the Eastwick Bike Patrol, if you haven't heard of them before:

Posted 09/20/2007 07:12:49 AM

Oh, wow, just looking at the office chair where you had them sitting in your lap, just a couple years ago. And now they're off with their little ironing boards, lol... Do keep us posted how that adventure goes!

Posted 09/20/2007 07:13:36 AM

Oh, wow, just looking at the office chair where you had them sitting in your lap, just a couple years ago. And now they're off with their little ironing boards, lol... Do keep us posted how that adventure goes!

daniel rubin
Posted 09/20/2007 05:53:00 PM

Just got back from Kalamazoo, where we met Gordon, fresh (?) from his three-week trek in the Canadian wilds. Five bears, untold beavers and one 10-k portage later, he's happily showered and moved into his new room with his Parisian roommate. No ironing boards. But more heavy metal in their cd collections than I've seen in years. The Midwest rocks.

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