Back when I was cuter than the Olsen twins and Will Smith didn’t totally ditch Jazzy Jeff, I was on top of the world. My first brother was born when I was seven, but for purposes of birth-order analysis, his birth didn’t really matter and neither did my second brother’s, for that matter. In those seven years, I had hard-wired myself to think that everything was mine. Oh yes, that My Little Pony with the sparkly hair? Mine. That Barbie? Mine. You can be Skipper. I don’t care if we’re at your house.
Now a freshman at college, just thinking about my juvenile heyday, and the M.C. Hammer-style early 90’s, is enough to send me into nauseous nostalgia. I only thought I was in control at home. Of course I made sure that I was the only one who ate my special crackers and used my mint shampoo, but my control was of a different, totally irrelevant kind. It was not irrelevant like Screech on Saved By the Bell, but irrelevant like Screech on Saved by the Bell: The New Class.
So before I realized all this — before college — the thing I most feared wasn’t finals week or scary professors or dining hall meat (more gristle than edible-ness); it was the fear that people would penetrate the sphere I had diligently created for myself (and by “diligently” I mean “obsessively”). I imagined a suitemate asking me if she could borrow toenail clippers, then maybe pantyhose, then before you know it she was asking me if she could borrow my Silk Effects razor, then “wondering” if I thought it was possible to shave one’s own back. I would wait for that one day, that day when I’d least expect it, that I would find a suitemate in my room using my Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion on her armpits. And although I may be a control freak, I’m not a rude one, so I’d probably say something like, “Yeah, chafing sucks.”
Fortunately, none of my nine suitemates turned out that way. I have a single and my own little cubby in our suite bathroom. I don’t think any of them realizes that I’m as anal as I am. It’s not that they didn’t notice me, it’s just that they didn’t care. I actually think that this is a marvel, since surely more than 10% of Yale is incurably pesky and obnoxious. Anyway, my suite has better things to do, like watching Ed and Alias. Unfortunately my parents are not distracted by — and in love with — the awkward but endearing Ed and the hot-hot-hot Michael Vaughn.
Christmas is a perfect example. My father serves enough turkey, ham and roast beef for dinner that I now believe our guests have enough fat to survive the winter in hibernation. My mom piles it onto my plate, along with their respective gravies, and it all oozes together, like liquid bologna. I mean, I just wanted to eat cranberry sauce. I love that stuff. Yet fifty miles away, my suitemates have seen me many a time eating peanut butter off of a knife without saying a word.
And when I first came home, my mom told me to look at my magazine rack. She was alarmed by the plethora of condoms hanging in Ziploc bags around my dorm, and so she had left the Dec. 9 issue of Newsweek on the top slot of my magazine rack, title story: “The New Virginity: Why More Teens Are Choosing Not to Have Sex.”
The magazine was Phase One in “Operation Prude.”
Subsequent phases included covering my eyes during movie sex scenes (for ‘Unfaithful,’ it lasted the whole movie), accompanying me to Victoria’s Secret, and telling me that I was “too young to be sure about my sexuality.” And in my secondary home, and more and more my secondary life, my suitemates are all like, “just turn up the music and lock the door.”
My mom with the size seven feet even borrowed my size eight-and-a-half shoes without asking me. When I took them off at a friend’s house, pieces of cotton stuffed into the toe fell out. I stuffed them back in, but I’m afraid I wasn’t spared the embarrassment of seeming like I was molting.
You see, if my life were like that T.G.I.F. classic ‘Perfect Strangers,’ my parents would be Larry, the uptight guy with curly hair, and my suitemates would be Balki, the guy who was so laid-back he made up the country Meebos and told people that was where he was from. Now that’s chill.
But that’s not fair. I will be the first to admit that I am not anything like the uber-charming Bronson Pinchot. I’m probably more like that other guy, oh I don’t know his name. After break it all became clear to me: Uncle Joey is so much cooler than Danny Tanner, and the show could totally ride on Dharma and never on Greg.
You know, I wish that Meebos really did exist. Then maybe I could leave everything behind, live there, and learn how to relax. Yes, that would be nice.
But if anyone is using my razor when I get back — party’s over. n