Into The Woods

Do you remember when I said I was going to hide in my son’s dorm room? (Never Say Goodbye) That I couldn’t possibly let him go to college by himself?

Well, I’m going. But not with him. I’m going back to college by myself.

Now, first you should know that I went to college already. Although it was lacking in one very important way: I lived at home with my parents and sister, not in a dorm. I feel like I missed something, a right of passage that is necessary to grow up properly. It’s also how I feel about not having gone to my prom and the decision to have C-sections instead of natural childbirth. I feel as though I have not had an AUTHENTIC experience.

They were prudent choices at the time. I thought I was so smart. Why the hell would I go through the pain of passing a butterball turkey through my cervix if I could be completely numb? I realize now that in doing so I was rendered ill-equipped to handle a screaming infant. I believe this is because of the numbing followed with a morphine chaser. After natural childbirth a screaming baby is a walk in the park.

Like I said, I missed out.

So, college. I’m going to graduate school. In Vermont. Remember that classic joke? How do you tell the difference between the men and women in Vermont? You can’t, they all wear flannel.
No. That’s not right. That joke is about Maine. My good friend Kathy is from Maine and she is dresses flannel-free. Although she’s from Camden, so that explains that. But they really do wear a lot of flannel and plaid up there. If you want to see some, go to Sunday brunch at the Samoset resort. The entire town turns up in this elegant resort wearing their plaid flannel pajamas. They’re still there at dinnertime.

Because brunch in Maine means “all day”.

But Vermont. So really I don’t know anything about it. Just the classic maple syrup and very green state stuff. I live in Connecticut which technically is lumped together with Vermont in “New England” but I don’t feel we are in the same family. Vermont is more like Connecticut’s distant cousin who doesn’t shave anything and eats moose for breakfast.

But I may be stereotyping. Maybe they shave their heads.

The only thing I knew to do to prepare me for graduate school in Vermont was to read the Vermont Country Store Catalogue. I highly recommend picking one up. My mother has a copy and I found myself drawn to its cover of comforting plaid, weird food items and rocking chair cushions. My 67-year-old mother handed me the catalogue while sipping tea and wearing a robe that is frighteningly similar, complete with eyelet ruffles, to one found on page 43 and said, “They also have marital aids.” Then it became interesting. I looked on every page but couldn’t find any.

“Maybe they took them out. People probably complained” she said.

I immediately looked at The Vermont Country Store online. They sure have them there. I found one that was particularly interesting. It’s called the BonBon. “Better than chocolate.” Which is really quite amazing.

Then I had questions. First, where do I get a sample?
And then: Why would they take them out of the paper catalogue?

If I was living in the woods in the snow for nine months of the year with no internet and someone took away my ability to purchase marital aids, that would be bad. Maybe that’s why they have bears. To eat the editors of Vermont Country Store Catalogue.

Now that I think about it, maybe this is a horrible idea. They have bears there. Big ones. I could be out, walking on a nature path, feeling all graduate-degree-esque, reading Wordsworth and be tackled by a black bear. Then it would all be over. I’m not prepared for bears. I’m prepared for knowing instinctively that Anthropologie is having a sale before the email comes and for negotiating old people traffic on Sundays like Danica Patrick.

Another thing. I refuse to wear Birkenstocks or tie dye anything. I like stilettos and no tie dye. I’m allergic. Both of them together puts me into anaphylactic shock. I have an epi-pen for it.

Come to think of it. I’m making a note to call the doctor for more epi pens.

Maybe I can use them on the bears.


Photo Courtesy Janelle McCulloch’s Library of Design