>>> Text-Heavy
By staff writer E.E. Southerby
Volume 97 – September 5, 2004

“By The Time You Read This You'll Have Already Read It”

Now Playing: “Somebody Told Me” by The Killers

Like you, the general college-attending Internet-column-reading public, I am packing up to go back to school this week. As you can imagine, this has led to a very busy time for me, especially since last week I committed suicide and spent much of the next few days getting out of that mess. So now I have a column deadline fast approaching, a plane to catch that I'm almost certainly going to miss, and as far as everyone's concerned I'm also quite dead. Here's what happened:

-I always pack too many clothes. If I'm going away for a weekend, I'll pack three different outfits even if I know I'll be wearing the same thing the whole time. If I'm going away to college, I'll pack every single article of clothing I have ever owned, and then I'll go down to Old Navy and buy some more. Then, when I get to school, I'll unpack my clothes and slap myself on the forehead and ask, “What was I thinking when I brought this along?” Because frankly, Old Navy is hella tacky.

-It is recommended that college students bring at least one “formal” outfit along, “just in case.” Of course, by “just in case” we are referring to a formal dance, which is just like a regular dance except everyone wears a suit. Even the girls. I suggest you bring two formal outfits, “just in case” the drycleaner has a hard time getting peach Schnapps and vomit out of the first one.

-You will want to bring a computer along, even if your school says you don't need one. If you don't have a computer, you'll become one of those unfortunate people who knocks on my door at 3:30am because they need to print something for the next morning and the computer lab's closed and I'll be really quick and there are no color pictures and I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU. Also, if you don't have a computer, you will be unable to illegally download the Milkshake song and set Winamp to repeat while you go away for the weekend. Nobody minds that at all.

-If you're going to live in a dormitory, be sure to pack as many halogen lamps as you can fit into your Old Navy satchel. This is because halogen lamps have been almost universally banned in dormitories, sort of like crystal meth. Apparently they pose some sort of fire hazard, which is a lesson you will learn many times thanks to the numerous fire alarms that will be set off by people who forgot to turn off their halogen lamps. Fight fire with fire, I say. And the best way to cause a fire is with a halogen lamp. I'm bringing twenty. (This message brought to you by the Tungsten Bashers of America.)

-A lot of you are probably bringing various decorations and artwork for your room. This is a mistake, because your school will almost certainly have a poster sale a few weeks into the semester, so you can buy your tacky artwork at factory direct wholesale overpriced prices. Why bother adding your own touch of originality when you could just get that black and white photo of the two girls kissing, or the one with the guy wearing the shirt that says college? Don't spend too much on posters, though, as they will almost certainly be destroyed along with all your other possessions once the place burns down. Thank you, halogen lamps.

-Off-Topic Corner: It must be tough for a parent to hear their kid tell them they're gay. It must be even tougher to hear “I'm becoming a vegetarian.” Think about it: From then on the parent is going to have to cook different meals. They're going to have to deal with their kid's new friends, who quite frankly will be huge pussies. I imagine Christmas dinner will never be the same. (“Pass the turkey substitute.”)

-Some college students bring along a guitar, because they feel that this will create the aura of coolness that they so richly crave, and also because they enjoy playing the guitar. Even if you don't know how to play, I believe you should go out and buy a guitar immediately, because chicks flock to the guy with the guitar. And the best part about a guitar is that it's the most bullshit instrument on the planet. You can just twang on it randomly, without any sense of rhythm or tone, and then tell people it's “Hotel California.” Girls will believe you, because any song sounds the same as any other when it's on the guitar, which explains how Nirvana managed to make seventeen albums before Kurt Cobain couldn't take it anymore. I bet his last words were, “How can people keep buying this shit? It's always exactly the same!” That's pretty much how I feel about Survivor, too.

-You will want to bring at least one board game along with you, and by “one board game” I of course mean RISK. Many a night will be spent playing Parker Brother's substitute for nicotine. Yes, it's THAT addictive. But RISK is also very educational. For example, without RISK you would never have any idea that your best friends would betray you at the drop of a hat just to conquer South America. Nor would you have any idea just how important Australia is to world domination. Seriously, if real wars worked like in RISK, every single battle in history would end up with the loser tossing another shrimp on the barbie, or some such nonsense.

-Of course, with all the clothing and assorted college paraphernalia you will be needlessly packing because you're absolutely sure you'll need it to survive the next eight months, you're going to need new luggage. Luckily, this is a simple and inexpensive problem to solve assuming you live in Bizarro world. Otherwise, you will find buying luggage to be one of the most troubling experiences of your life. Apparently they train luggage salesmen the same way they train used car salesmen and interrogation officers in Guantanamo Bay. Assuming you survive your trip to the luggage store uncastrated, you will have spent upwards of $800 on what is essentially a box made of vinyl. Don't worry, though. The luggage comes with a money back guarantee, which would be pretty goddamn handy if you ever get the nerve to set foot in the store again, which of course you won't. Luggage salesmen know this, which is why sometimes they give you suitcases with holes pre-torn in the bottom, in case you ever feel like raping the luggage the same way they've just raped you.

-Quote of the Moment: A friend of mine, upon hearing the topic for this week's newsletter: “How can you write an entire column about packing without even mentioning fudge?” I just like to think I'm more mature than that, and that I can make it through a single article without mentioning rough anal sex. Damn! So close.