Super-Secret! Print Out and Swallow After Reading!!

big poopYou know the great thing about this photo? That kid will still be doing things like that in 50 years. At least if he’s anything like the people I know… Let’s all hope and pray he doesn’t grow up and have the stick of maturity inserted into his ass by a bunch of earnest assholes with tucked-in shirts. Shit! I just had a full-body shiver.

Our son just called from college, and said it’s “weird.” There are lots of activities going on, and he says he’s taking part in them, but the whole thing feels like he’s away at camp. He’s wanting to know if I’ll come get him and bring him home for Labor Day weekend. You know, from camp. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea, or not. Toney and I will have to discuss.

I never went away to college, and don’t know what would’ve happened if I had. My gut reaction: I would’ve partied, never gone to class, and wasted my parents’ money. On the other hand… I might’ve felt the weight of the situation, and been compelled not to let anyone down. It could’ve gone either way.

I mean, I’ve always taken my jobs seriously — even the shitty minimum wage gigs I had when I was 20 or whatever. If somebody has expectations of me, I REALLY want to come through for them. So, if I decided that was the situation, I probably would’ve done the work.

But, I went to West Virginia State College for a year — which was like 13th Grade — and another year at Marshall University. My parents told me they’d pay my tuition, if I wanted to go, but there was never much importance placed on higher education at our house. So, I wasn’t really prodded along by solid expectations. Therefore, I hung out in record stores more than in class, and… wasted my parents’ money. Pass the beer nuts.

With our boys there’s no ambiguity about our expectations. So, hopefully that’ll pay dividends in the long run. There are no guarantees, of course. Neither of our kids have gone the extra mile when it comes to schoolwork. Both are plenty smart, but do the minimum to stay out of trouble. Just like I did. We’ll see how it goes.

As we were driving home on Wednesday, sad and teary about leaving the boy at school, I started thinking… He’s just at college, two or three hours away. I can text him whenever I want, and could even drive down there and have lunch with him tomorrow, if I’d like.

Just think about the 18 year olds who went off to fight the Nazis during the early 1940s. Can you imagine being a parent back then?? Holy shitballs. Or… even worse, parents who lost their kids to accidents, or illness, or war or whatever. I’ve got a lot of nerve, I decided.

So, I put in a Tom Petty CD, buried my booger-hooks into a sack of trail mix, and tried to wash away the sins.

What are your feelings on trail mix? I love it, but only the original version. I don’t like the fancy-ass kind with coconut and dried fruit. When we were at that bizarre Amish Wal-Mart, I bought a giant sack of the stuff for $4.98. The shit is fantastic! And perfect for car trips.

And let’s just make that the Question of the Day: What’s your favorite snack while driving? I also like jelly beans, if you can believe it: the kind with a million “gourmet” flavors. Some are good, and some are breathtakingly horrible. It’s almost like Russian Roulette, without the threat of actual death. It’s great fun!

What about you? If you’re heading out on a long car trip, what kind of snackables will you take along? Tell us about it in the comments. Also, what’s the most unusual food you’ve eaten from behind the wheel? Anything that would surprise us? We’ll need to know about it.

And I’ll see you guys again on Monday.

Have a great day!


  1. Go get him. He WANTS to visit – likely needs it to decompress and think about stuff and get your opinions. Then he might feel “ready” for the start of classes. I don’t think it is a sign of weakness – just adjustment. And wow – he loves his family! Obviously you know your boy best – but I would pick him up this time!

    • It might set a bad precedent, but the crushing loneliness might be setting in. My first week at college I bought a $50 bootleg phish CD so there is that.

  2. For road trips, my wife always buys Twizzlers and a bag of Combos. I have no idea when or why this started. Funny that we never eat them anytime except when we’re in the car for hours on end.

  3. Don’t go get him. Kids who go home over Labor Day often don’t return. It’s right when homesickness is at its worst. If you want him to be there long term, explain that he needs to stay, ride out the tears on the phone call, hang up, hate yourself, cry, and trust that it’s for the best.

    I work with kids away from home for the first time, and we forbid them from going home for the first six weeks – too many of them never returned.

  4. Jeff,

    I spent a lot of time at university. After undergrad I hung around for a masters and Ph.D., and during grad school I had to teach, both as a degree requirement and to make money. Over the years I taught close to 6000 students, so I’m saying this with some experience:

    Don’t let your kid come home for at least 6 weeks (typically we say Thanksgiving, but I’m in Canada and we have Thanksgiving much earlier than you). Right now he needs to adjust to school, learn to cope on his own, and make new friends. He can’t do that if he spends his weekends at home.

    Most schools have carefully crafted orientation events that are designed to help you meet lots of people, learn how things work, and adapt. Let the process work. Plus he’s in residence, so there’s lots of support for him there too.

    He’ll be home in a few weeks and will be a better person for sticking it out.

  5. I second the Twizzlers for a long car ride. When I was younger, I would bring a bottle of water and a bottle of coke, Twizzlers and something salty – usually a bag of Munchos potato crisps. M&Ms were good too.

    Now its very rare if we eat in the car. If it’s an excutiating long trp we stop and get out. Oh yeah, and the “I’m over 50 I gotta pee NOW break.”

  6. Oh and I commuted to college and I have no children so I got nothing on whether your son should come home or now. Maybe in a week he’ll change his mind and want to stay at school.

  7. Ron from PA says

    I drive quite a bit, the fam is in CT, so I have the road trip food down to a science. Typically a 4 hour ride:
    3 cans of Red bull (small)
    2 Bottles water
    1 bag of gummy bears
    1 bag of corn nuts
    1 bag of Sunflower seeds. (shelled)
    2 small cigars. My wife would rather smell them, than my farts
    Have a great weekend everyone

  8. Lester Bangs says

    Monster trail mix from Target is pure crack.

  9. Fritos, root beer, Beef jerky, white cheddar popcorn, wasabi almonds

  10. Bill in WV says

    I’d say girlfriend is putting some pressure on him already. Make him stay there, get drunker’n hell, tear down a wall or two and meet some new friends. He’ll be fine. That left-at-home girlfriend is a lot of stress, but he needs to concentrate on his new surroundings and trying to fit in.

    • sunshine_in_va says

      Oh God – yeah: the long-distance relationship thing. He (and she) should know the odds are against them. She can, of course, sabotage his college education by bending him to her will (and I think we all know how THAT is accomplished). Doesn’t make it love; doesn’t make it right.

      More likely it will die a slow death and even though he doesn’t know it (and won’t believe it at the time), the distance from home will actually save him from more grief.

      Good luck Jeff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • It was a while ago but my memory doesn’t remember anyone I knew at University successfully maintaining a relationship with a BF/GF “back at home”. However, I do remember a few people being miserable fuckers while they tried.

      I didn’t have this problem. Before I went to University, I travelled abroad for 3 months. My hometown girlfriend at that time gave me an ultimatum, “me or the travelling”. I went to about 15 countries and it was awesome.

      • sunshine_in_va says

        I remember one couple that did.. He and his future wife were religious fanatics and they still are. I can’t stomach that crap but I have to give it to them – they’re still together.

        • johnthebasket says

          Richie Vecchio: Don’t you understand, Joan and I are just not happy together.

          Frank Vecchio: You hear that, Beatrice? They’re not happy together.

          Bea: I heard, Frank.

          Frank Vecchio: So who’s happy?

          Bea: Who’s happy?

          Frank Vecchio: What, do you see me running around dancing in the streets?

          Bea: Do you see your father running around dancing in the streets?

          Frank Vecchio: What are you, better than me? You think your mother and I are happy?

          Richie Vecchio: You mean you and mom aren’t happy?

          Frank Vecchio: [together with Bea] No!

          Richie Vecchio: Then why did you stay together?

          Frank Vecchio: [pause] We’re content.

          Bea: We’re content.

          Frank Vecchio: These kids today, all they’re looking for is happiness.

          Bea: Don’t look for happiness, Richie. It will only make you miserable.

    • I’d bet the “super sweet and universally adored girlfriend” is not putting any pressure on him. Probably not her style. I’d bet she’s pretty cool and confident in her own self and gives him the space to go but knows he’ll be back. I’d bet he’s the one that can’t wait to be with her again. He might just want to come back to make sure everything is ok and as he left it..his anchor is still holding as he gets ready for the shit to start hitting the sails.

  11. See, this why y’all need to put your drinking age back to 18. A 3-day weekend at University? A University with bars with really cheap beer? And lots of young ladies enjoying that beer too? Or go home to Mommy? No brainer. It was 25 years ago for me, but I think I didn’t see my parents again until Christmas.

  12. sunshine_in_va says

    My parents discouraged my coming home from college – especially my Freshman year. I think they saw it as a sign that I wasn’t adjusting and maybe couldn’t be away from home (which might make the whole enterprise fall through). And I’ve seen that happen too. My roommate sophomore year was a freshman and I don’t think he liked being away from home. So he went home a lot (compared to most other people I knew) and voila – he eventually dropped out. I’m not sure but I think he finally went back to college – in his hometown.

  13. Gordian Knott says

    > What’s the most unusual food you’ve eaten from behind the wheel?

    Paan, a betel nut product from India consisting of a leaf and hard areca nuts. It’s the Indian version of chewing tobacco. Got hooked on it on a trip there many years ago. I buy mine at a store in India-town that sells them at a dollar a shot, and chew them on the way home while using a dixie cup as a spittoon. Just the ticket for long drives.

  14. johnthebasket says

    I lost track of where the girlfriend was going to college. If she’s still “in town”, the Labor Day trip home is problematic. I don’t really have an opinion on that, but those two need to get used to being away from each other.

    If this “bring me home” request isn’t about the girlfriend, it’s a more difficult question. The doctrine of unconditional love would indicate that you should let him come home a few times (not every weekend). Is there a bus that runs from college to your town? I got to/from college by train or bus. I know public transportation has taken a giant step backward since I was a student (and Christ was a cowboy), but it brings the pain of travel closer to the surface.

    If the girlfriend hasn’t left for college yet, this is more of a hormonal than a homesick problem. You can’t tell your own kid not to come home, but you CAN tell him, in his best interests, you won’t drive to pick him up.

    This is probably more like a tough several months for you, Jeff, than a tough week. Good luck.


  15. Encourage him to ride it out at school. He’ll thank you later when he becomes an adult. He’ll be able to take care of himself, and he’ll notice all the child-adults around him that are flailing in life, then he will thank you.

  16. Our youngest has been going to sleep away camp on Lake Erie since he was 7…..anywhere from 1 week to 4 weeks per Summer. We did this because he liked camp but also because it helped him adjust to living away from home and his family so when the time came to go away to college, there was no messiness and waterworks. Lots of hugs and smiles only.

    Don’t let him come home yet for a long weekend. He needs to ride this out at school. My one and only college roommate lasted 2 weeks before she moved back home(she was local so lived at home and attended my school). Had never lived away from her parents before…..I think she is a spinster with no life still living with them now 37 years later.

    Talk him off the ledge so he knows y’all have his back but make him stay at school.
    I’m on my 3rd “sent off to college” kid and the older two seemed to have turned out alright… far. lolz

  17. You must have a good relationship with your son if he is wanting you to pick him up so he can visit over Labor Day. When I first went away to college across the mountains of WA state and never went to class therefore flunking out of college #1 I went to get away from home. Then I flunked out of college #2 still in WA. Moved to the south and flunked out of college#3. I had the social part down. After getting married and having one child I decided on college #4 which I had to pay for while working and raising 2 kids. Finished that one with a degree and honors. Now I have one child that finished college and another that is a jr in college about to study abroad. I think when patents have good relationships with their kids they do better.

  18. I have no kids, but when I was one my first trip home from college was for Thanksgiving. That worked out well.

    Road food: Haribo Raspberries, which I’ve only ever seen at NJTP rest areas. I also like to have something salty, like a bag of Cheez-its. And plenty of water, of course.

  19. Mike Narmour says

    He absolutely cannot come home until he has settled in to his college routine…..and then he will probably have no desire to come home, lol, but he has to acclimate himself to this environment if he’s gonns see it through. which, of course, he needs to.

  20. Jeremy Wiley says

    Chex Mix and pork skins

  21. johnthebasket says

    Sorry for the extra comment. I am a victim of Windows 8, and it’s pissing me off. Thanks for your patience.


  22. Mrs. L. Bangs says

    Don’t bring him home – think of it as Tough Love – he needs to stay, it’ll benefit him in the long run.

  23. Brenda Love says

    Gah Jeff, I don’t want to add to your confusion here… but I think you should let him come home for the long weekend. Before you even go to get him though, make sure he understands that he WILL be going back to school when the weekend is over and that he WILL at least finish out his semester there. If he wants to transfer somewhere closer to home, that’s all well and good, but he must get through this for now. Home sickness can really get you down though, and he may just need some time away from all the “new”. One of the problems I had with college was that I was very used to having time alone, and suddenly I didn’t have that anymore. No where on a college campus is sacred and yours only. SOMEONE is always around. But I think a weekend to come home and process all the new things he’s been experiencing.

  24. Brenda Love says

    p.s. and if you do let him come for the weekend, you may want to go ahead and lay in a large supply of laundry detergent. He’s going to come home with every piece of clothing he owns needing a thorough washing.

  25. I went away to college about 2 hours from my home town. I was going back on the weekends probably 50% of the time ( along with many of my friends that went to other schools). We kinda kept out old group together freshman year, which was nice for our group but bad for us. We didn’t acclimate well to our new friends. It resulted in me dropping out for a year or so… But ultimately I ended up ok.

  26. Cheeze-Its for the long ride between SC and Mass. Maybe I’m Amish and don’t know it?

    Most unusual food behind the wheel was an éclair about the size of a small dog. Yum.

  27. Skippy in WV says

    Let me say this isfrom experience,do NOT let him come home on short weekends. Make him stay and experience college life for what it is. My parents letting me come home every weekend the reason I failed college.

  28. No kids here but my nephew just went away to college. The wife and I are visiting his mom and the rest of the kids Labor Day weekend. As much as I would love to see him, I’m not going to ask him to come back for the weekend. He needs to acclimate himself to living away from home. Plus, I bet him $50 that he would break up with his high school sweetheart (who is still in high school and is 2 hours away) sometime before the start of his sophomore year. He thinks he’s going to win. Hahahaha! Those of us old enough to know better know what underage partying and exposure to tons of inebriated people of the opposite (and sometimes not so opposite) sex do to a long distance high school romance. Shit, did I just cause quick whipping of your hand through your hair. Jeff? Sorry. What were you doing at 18 and away from your parents house? I know what I was doing…

  29. If I’m on a road trip I stop at roadside stands for fruit if its there, otherwise, a diet drink and kettle chips. I just started buying the $5 Walmart trail mix when I found it otherwise would mix my own – quite the deal compared to what some of them charge, sometime $12/bag and I don’t normally like peanuts on their own but this is a good mix and a good deal. A friend of mine used to buy bulk trail mix from the grocery store but add in a couple extra scoops of smarties from another bin – rebel.

    I am guilty of eating anything behind the wheel, if I have picked up take out and am starving, I have to try a couple of bites on the way to my destination. This will safely be mowed back at stop lights though.

    No comment on the post secondary school thing having no offspring of my own, I did it all in my home town and paid for it all on my own and savings from gifts that I was never allowed to spend growing up. I wasted some time but it was at my own expense. My parents allowed me occasional use of a vehicle which I carpooled with other friends and didn’t charge me rent. Not sure how I would have handled dorm life, I partied enough without it. I believe in independence though, if anyone cares about my opinion.

  30. Don’t go get him.

  31. pizza flavored combos. Done and done.

  32. For car trip snacks I take along baggies of spaghetti and meatballs. If I want something sweet, lemon meringue pie.

    • I just dropped my firstborn off at his dorm to start college life, 600 miles and two states from home. He has no car, no option to travel. He’s also dealing with girlfriend separation issues. The last thing he needs after being away from his family for only a week or so is to come home.

      It’s ok to be stressed, sad, homesick, whatever. It’s also ok to grow up.

      The Elder Secret, he’ll be fine

  33. We are road-tripping right now and coincidentally was just thinking about this. My number one go-to snack on long car trips is Munchos. Which is bizarre since I NEVER get them at home. A side note here: Just discovered my favorite gas station Sheetz does not carry them at all in any location. What the hell man? That place has everything and no Munchos?? Can any one explain this?

  34. How about an alternative suggestion? Instead of the boy coming home for the weekend, how about ya’ll go visit him?

    That way you can access how he’s adjusting, maybe encourage him to share his “inside knowledge” of the campus to help bolster 4roots to his new home.

  35. aileen in jackson ms says

    For me, road trips require a lot of chocolate.

    When I went away to college in Athens my parents made me come home every weekend. I have mixed feelings about it. I continued to have a blast on the weekends with old friends who were still in Atlanta, but regretted missing out on the school activities and fun my new friends were having. Then I transferred to Boulder and it didn’t matter what anybody wanted ’cause it was too far away to be a choice.

  36. Lucie in Tampa says

    I’m snacking on my own trail mix, I love this store Bulk Nation & they sell everything there to make a good trail mix, plus they also have Jelly Belly Buttered Popcorn Jelly beans… yum…

  37. Minipeds in NOLA says

    Road trip food: original Chex Mix. Maybe the bold party flavor one for fun and extra sodium.
    I went to college 1,300 miles away from home and WEPT when my parents left me at my dorm…but! Because they later flew home without me, I had to live with my decision to go away and tough it out. It turns out that the soul searching made me feel independent and capable.
    Let him spend a little holiday weekend with his new surroundings and if you can, do the FaceTime or whatever’s similar on your technology. Let him see you’re there, smiling and proud and not THAT far away. Good luck, Jeff!

  38. I like trail mix. And those jelly beans are great fun, I agree. I never look at them first, I just pop them in and hope it is good and try to guess the flavor.

    My road trip food is Good & Plentys though. They are my favorite candy and easy to eat while driving. I can eat them one at a time if I don’t really want them at that moment but I need to stay awake, or I can shove handfuls in when I do want them. Pink and white perfection.

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