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Dump and run on college move-in day

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By Ken Begley

I dropped Will off at U of L the other day as a newly-minted freshman, ready to begin dorm life. He seemed not just eager to go, but ecstatic to get out of my clutches, I mean, loving, protective hands.

There’s a reason for that, and it involves my philosophy about raising kids.

Shoot, I’ll bet you didn’t think an illiterate hillbilly like me even knew what “philosophy” meant, let alone have one.

I personally buy all my philosophies at the Dollar Store from Charlotte Parrot. She has them cheap out there.

Anyway, I digress (another neat word I learned the other day). My philosophy about raising kids is to never make things too comfortable around the house. If things are too comfortable, they will never want to leave.

I’ve been very successful in the implementation of this philosophy. I have not had a kid yet that didn’t want to run screaming from the house, “Free at last, free at last,” two seconds after graduation.

Yes sir, after 18 years at Ken Begley’s home of hard knocks, full employment and slave labor camp, anyone would be glad to make their “Great Escape”. Of course if they try to leave before “time is served,” then I release the hounds and have them dragged back into the compound.

The result is my kids will gladly go anywhere, any time, to escape the warden, I mean dear old dad. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sleepover, school trip, or incarceration at Devil’s Island Penal Colony just as long as the Begley homestead is fading into the sunset behind them.

Anyway Will had been what I laughingly call “cleaning up his room” and packing up what he’ll need to take with him for college. I say laughingly because after a week of cleaning, you still couldn’t see the color of the carpet on the floor, and it had the appearance that a deranged hobo had died in there. Will’s idea of laundry day is to go into his room with a snow shovel and take off the first layer of dirty clothes. He gently places it in a garbage can and drags it down to the laundry room.

We headed down to U of L on my faithful White Stallion steed with all his earthly belongings attached.

Well, the White Stallion is actually a 1999 beat-up Plymouth Voyager with over 200,000 miles on it. Will must get really tired when I drive, because I notice that he really scrunches down in the passenger seat. He gets so low that people would think I was driving by myself. Cindy has another reason she thinks he scrunches down like that, but it is so ridiculous that I won’t even dignify it with space in this column.

We hit U of L at the height of move-in day. The traffic was filled with young college hopefuls and tired middle-aged parents wanting to drop them off. Fortunately, U of L’s traffic control system is a modern marvel of technology in action. We pulled up to a red light at the edge of campus, and a mere 45 minutes later we had moved 45 inches. Some idiot was honking his horn continuously and shouting obscenities so all could hear. But Will calmed me down and I was okay later.

I finally told Will, “Look, just walk over to your dorm and check in. When I get close I’ll give you a call so we can unload on the sidewalk. I doubt there will be a parking place.”

Will said, “That’s a good 20-minute walk from here, Daddy!”

I then looked at Will with sweat streaming down my head, as air conditioning was not an option on my classic model, and said, “What’s your point, boy?”

“Uh, nothing. I could use a little exercise anyway.”

“You bet nothing. Now go get some exercise!”

Will got checked in and found Wesley Campbell and his family already moving all his stuff in.

It was fortunate that Wesley’s mom, Erika, was there. She’s a whiz at organizational thinking and quickly called me back.

“Kenny, drive your van over to the construction site next to the dorm and we’ll be waiting to off load you. Then you can go find a parking space, because their aren’t any open around here.”

I love that woman’s take-charge attitude in an emergency, and this was an emergency. That large cup of McDonald’s coffee was really kicking in after an hour in stalled traffic.

I got to the dorm and it looked like the Apocalypse, with mounds of belonging stacked up at every section of the sidewalk.

I saw Will and the Campbell clan waiting exactly where they said they would be.

Erika leaned into the window when I got there and said, “We have to get all this stuff off quick, because it’s a no parking zone.”

“No problem Erika. Open the hatchback and tell everyone to step back.”

I slammed the emergency brake down as far as it would go, then floored the gas. The wheels were spinning so fast that they nearly caught fire. Then I popped the emergency brake and watched all of Will’s stuff go flying out the back for about 100 feet as I sped away.

I came on back later after I figured they would have gotten all his stuff picked up. No sense in sweating anymore than I already had. Will and Wesley were quickly arranging everything in their new pad for the next four years.

I gave Will a sweaty hug and said goodbye. Then I told Wesley, “Get a good look at your floor today. You won’t see it again until you graduate.”

I walked down the street and saw another nervous freshman with all her stuff on the sidewalk waiting for her friends to come help her move in.

I walked right up to her and said, “Don’t worry young lady. I was evicted once myself, just like it appears you have been. They put all my stuff out on the street just like this. But you know what? I went to school and got an education and it all paid off. I no longer live on the street. You see that white van. I now live in the back of it, down by the river. One day you’ll be just like me after you graduate.”

Then I stuffed a dollar in her hand and climbed into the van. It backfired twice and I rode off into the sunset knowing my job was done.