One weekend each school year, Washington State University offers Dad's Weekend---an opportunity for fathers of WSU students to see where their hard earned dollars are going, live the college life briefly, and spend some quality time with their academically inclined offspring.
To ensure a successful Dad's Weekend (given a sufficiently loose definition of "successful"), follow these five simple rules:
You will quickly discover that having a ready supply of nourishment is essential for the survival of Dad's weekend. Your student will expect dinner out on your first evening together. You will be competing with thousands of other dads and tens of thousands of weekend football goers for a table. The minimum wait for a table will be two hours. Being able to chomp down some needed calories to fend off the hunger and keep your body temperature above freezing as you wait outside the restaurant in the cold, watching the rain turn to snow, is essential.
Your short weekend stay is not long enough for your body to adapt to the foreign meal schedule you will encounter. In Pullman, breakfast is a meal served between twelve-thirty and two P.M. Lunch is served when you are expecting dinner. Dinner, however, is a meal you may not be equipped to handle. It is served hours after your digestive system has gone into hibernation. It consists of large quantities of pizza topped with spicy, greasy meats you cannot digest, and is washed down with staggering quantities of beer.
Your student will assure you that she and her fellow students do not regularly consume beer like this. This is a special occasion. This is Dad's weekend. And she's right. On other weekends, they wash down the pizza with hard liquor, not beer. Only livers under the age of 23 can handle such abuse.
One of your breakfast bars in lieu of the pizza will allow you to participate in the remainder of the weekend. If you fail to heed this advice, you will embarrass your student as rumors spread from floor to floor in her residence hall about the dad in the fourth floor restroom who has been occupying the same stall for several noisy hours.
Perhaps most importantly, your stash of nourishment will come in handy when your body wakes you at your normal pre-dawn hour and you are forced to endure the long wait to "breakfast."
Without sufficient training, the Pullman sleep schedule will present a challenge you will not be able to meet. Unfortunately, there is no adequate training plan for this, so you will simply have to endure it. Do not let it confuse you.
A good Friday night sleep is followed by a long sleep-in then a morning nap. Your student will be able to complete these three events uninterrupted. You, however, will need a break between the night's sleep and the sleep-in to visit the restroom.
Do not worry about waking your student as you step over her comatose body in the sleeping bag on the floor. It can't be done. She will sleep until breakfast.
Do not be deceived. You will notice, as you make your way down the hall to the restroom that other students are making their way to and from the showers. "Early risers!" you will think. "These must be the high achievers, the straight A students." No. These youngsters are not up early, they are in late. They are showering off the beer they've spilled on themselves and that sticky, whatever it is, adhered to the downward sides of their faces when awakened from an unexpected nap on a floor, somewhere.
After you shower and dress, enjoy a healthy breakfast bar while you surf the net on your student's computer and wait for her to rise.
Your student's ability to sleep until breakfast will prepare her for Saturday night. You, having skipped both the sleep-in and the following nap will need assistance. The Bookie sells small tins of highly caffeinated mints. Stock up.
Your student has a goal for this weekend. They don't call it Dad's weekend for nothing. Her goal is to empty your wallet before you leave. This is shopping with Dad weekend. In addition to restocking the supplies you assumed would last at least the semester, you will need to buy her winter clothes and a couple of expensive outfits because, she will explain, "I just don't have anything nice to wear."
Not all Dad's attend Dad's weekend. Some are smarter than you. Therefore, you will be buying dinner for her, her boyfriend, and a few other students she and he know whose dads are sitting home laughing to themselves, plus a couple of stragglers who recognize a good, free meal plan when they see one.
First, before leaving for Pullman, transfer all but $5.24 from your checking account to a numbered Swiss bank account. When you arrive, use your student's computer and the high-speed Internet connection you are paying so dearly for to sign onto your bank account and show her how broke you are. (Note: change your account password as soon as you arrive home. She has a keystroke logger on her system waiting for just this occasion to capture your account password and thus the keys to the kingdom. You have been warned.)
This approach may slow your student, but not likely. If she's intelligent enough to find her way through the maze they call "campus" she will see a short path to solving the cash crunch. "Don't worry, Dad. You got me an emergency credit card. Remember? It will finally come in handy!"
Perhaps you should note the names of couple of bankruptcy attorneys before your trip to Pullman so you can contact help quickly after Dad's weekend.
You arrived anticipating an entertaining evening show featuring a world renowned comedian. You sent your student cash to purchase a pair of tickets. Upon arrival, you discover the show has been cancelled. Dejected, you suggest to your student that you use the cash to find other entertainment for the evening---a movie, perhaps. That's when you discover your student appropriated the cash to cover other essential expenses. Apparently, so did most other students, thus the show cancellation. The sale of twelve advance tickets does not, it seems, meet the comedian's requirements.
But there's always the Saturday football game, centerpiece of the weekend. You brought two suitcases. On with two changes of clothes, the other stuffed full of cold weather gear. Hats, gloves, wool socks, boots, sweatshirts, fleece pullovers, jackets... As you layer up, your student, looking at a point on the floor between her feet says, "Uh, Dad? I, uh, thought we'd be more comfortable watching the game on television in my room." Forcing some enthusiasm into her voice, she looks up and says, "It'll be fun, Dad! Just you and me. We can order pizza."
She redirected the football ticket money, too! And now they're sold out, so even if you whip out one of your strained credit cards, it will do no good. Plan A and B are shot. And Plan C will be a disaster.
Since the game isn't televised locally, you and your student spend a few hours sitting on her bed, getting reacquainted. You re-discover why you felt so excited to finally have her out of the house. You both begin to long for the moment you can gain some separation again.
So, set your sights low, and by all means, bring a transistor radio with ear piece. That way, while your student is attempting to entertain you as the other dads are watching the best game of the year, you can at least hear the play by play and nod periodically saying, "Uh-huh, mmm-hmmm," to keep the conversation with your student going.
Sunday, exhausted, you will rise late with less time for the trip home than you planned. You'll hand over the last of your cash to your student, say your goodbyes, and leave Pullman. Propelled by an invisible force like some futuristic spaceship on the solar wind, you will gain speed as you flee. Caution!
To add insult to injury, the Washington State Patrol has redeployed every trooper in the state to snag distressed, fleeing fathers extracting more cash from their already empty accounts. In your sleep deprived and malnourished state, even though you do not have a drop of alcohol in your system, you will not be able to pass a field sobriety test. Enjoy the nap in the back of the patrol car as you return to Pullman, handcuffed, to be subjected to a blood alcohol test and have your picture taken for the front page of the local paper.
Here's a tip for surviving the trip home. Find a slow moving grain truck and let it set the pace. Do not pass! Rest assured that the other fathers flying past you on the double-yellow, horns blaring, one-finger saluting, will shortly be making the return trip to Pullman in handcuffs. They have not read the WSU Dad's Weekend Survival Guide.