Undoubtedly you noticed the strange creatures skulking around the bus stations and airports over Thanksgiving—those wasted-looking souls with the strange haunted looks.
Not vagrants nor terrorists, they’re just first-year university and college students returning home for a substantial home-cooked meal.
“I ate the last of the cereal this morning,” moaned one waif to another. “There was no milk, so I used the rest of the Kool Aid.”
It’s kind of like when the young cheetahs of the Kalahari are kicked out on their own and find making a kill is quite a bit more difficult than when Mom used to serve it up—steaming hot and plentiful.
And so they arrived Friday and Saturday, tumbling off buses and out of packed student cars. Their knapsacks loaded down with books and pending assignments due early the next week. The garbage bag slung over their shoulder is stuffed with six weeks’ worth of laundry.
They stagger to the door where a beaming Mom waits in her empty nest.
“Hi, what’s for supper?” is the greeting as Junior hands the laundry bag to Mom, and then his eyes light up. “What’s that I smell? Is it ready yet?”
Within a half-hour, every plate on the table is licked clean. Mom beams. Dad looks at the empty pot roast platter. No snack tonight. A cavernous voice echoes from the vicinity of the fridge, where a skinny butt protrudes, “Hey Dad, I need the car for a while, ’kay?”
And so the weekend goes. Eat, sleep, and prowl. These wild critters are clearly not domesticatable. Never a book is cracked, nor a pen put to paper on those pending assignments.
But the computer does get used. Dad had spent a month of evenings and $200 freeing it of viruses and spyware so it would even work again. Within 24 hours, Junior once again has it plugged full of downloads, including the latest bugs.
“Dad, I think you need a new hard drive, this one’s way too slow,” advises Junior condescendingly.
On Monday afternoon, Junior’s ride shows up at the door as he wolfs down the last of his Thanksgiving dinner, including the better part of a monster turkey.
Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Mom sniffles, and presses a care package on Junior, who is trying to balance the last quarter of the pumpkin pie in one hand while stuffing a drumstick in his knapsack.
Dad looks out the door and asks, “Where’s MY car?”
“Oh it’s parked down the street a few blocks,” breezes Junior as he stuffs the garbage bag of now clean laundry—gratis Mom—into the already overstuffed trunk, sitting on the lid to force it closed.
“It’s just out of gas, but no problem, I just walked home. Here’s the keys,” he reassures, offering a quick hug—not too long, maturity is still a few years off.
Into the car and they’re off. Mom sniffs. Dad sighs and gets out the lawnmower gas can.
In the car, Junior digs out the drumstick and begins to gnaw. “Anyone get that assignment done?”
A chorus of snickers and “Yeah, right!” rumbles around the interior with a final reply, “Trade you a piece of pie for the rest of that drumstick.”
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