Janis Jaquith
500 words


And you thought preparing for college was all about SATs. Hah. I'll tell you what college prep is about: It's about 400's about Bed, Bath and Beyond. You know, the store that sells those extra-long twin sheets you MUST have for those extra-long twin beds in the dormitory.

How much you want to bet that the colleges are in cahoots with the bed 'n' bath stores over this extra-long bed scam? It's a trap: They get you and your kid into the store where the sheets are WAY down the back and your rising freshman has to walk through a gauntlet of all that nifty stuff she suddenly can't live without.

And I am so na´ve that I picked up one of those little hand baskets on the way in. Well, that filled up in about a minute and a half - what with the pop-up hamper, the desk fan, and the wastebasket. As I dumped the stuff into a full-sized shopping cart, I kept muttering, "I thought we were here for the extra-long twin sheets...."

My daughter merrily tossed in huge bath towels and a mattress cover and a duvet. (Now, think back: Did YOU have a duvet when YOU went to college? ...I didn't think so.) Pillows, towel rack, backrest, lamp, full-length mirror - somebody explain to me why we wait until people are getting married to throw them showers, when they already got everything on the way to college.

We passed a display of adorable little microwave ovens that looked like iMacs - blueberry ovens, cherry-red ovens - I had to drag her away from those. Isn't that the point of the dining hall?

I picked up a copy of Bed Bath and Beyond's official college prep list. In addition to the extra-long twin sheets was just about everything in our shopping cart, plus they recommend (get this) a vacuum cleaner - as if! And an iron - oh, right! The store even has "jellybean dispenser" on the list. Seriously.

The thing is, I hate to say "no" to any of it - because, in a matter of days, this daughter of mine will walk out of my life and scarcely look back. ...And don't think this store isn't counting on that tension between parent and child to fatten their bottom line.

All that guilt and regret over my shortcomings all through her childhood - the end result will be a dorm room that looks like Aladdin's cave, crammed with every creature comfort money can buy. (And to tell you the truth, I'm thinking about going back to get one of those lollipop microwaves.)

If you ask me, Bed Bath and Beyond should just give away those extra-long twin sheets - they're soaking you for all the other stuff, it's the least they could do.

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