Community Columns

“It’s a pillow, Mackenzie. Not a husband.”


For a year, I’d been looking forward to taking my high school graduate granddaughter to Bed Bath and Beyond to shop for her dorm room. I had collected 20 coupons. So in June, a-shopping we did go, two months before she’d be leaving for college. We were too excited to wait any longer. Grandparents of boys say their grandsons grab a big box and throw a bunch of stuff in it and they’re ready to go. Girls shop as though House Beautiful will be taking photos.

Entering BB&B, I asked, “Where shall we start?” She knew. We headed to the Keurig machines for free coffee. Then to the jumbo-and- smaller plastic or fabric boxes to stash under the bed and around her room.

Along the way to bedding were slimline hangers labeled “BEYOND VALUE!” We picked up a box of 36. Then we saw a “Jumbo Super Lap Desk” and put it in the shopping cart for her laptop. She came upon a sensible shower caddy to take her items to the dorm bathroom.

Then we were in bedding. When I was a freshman, Mom needed to buy me three things: a mattress pad, sheets, and bedspread. First things first: We found a “Sleep Safe” dust mite protector that zips all around the mattress. “You never know if dust mites were sleeping with a student from last year, Grammie.” We tactfully avoided mention of other creepy crawlies, the ones making the headlines.

A sign said, “Make your bed better! Cozy it up by adding layers and style.” So we bought a gel mattress protector, a 3-inch memory foam topper and some other layer of padding designed to make a freshman fall asleep at night before finishing her assignments. “I will be known as the person with the best bed,” Mack said. I mulled over many things I’d rather she be known for.

After choosing towels, we came to pillows. Whenever Mackenzie comes to stay at my house in Florida, she growls about my pillows. I buy pillows for me that a baby would like — squishy and small. She likes pillows as rigid as a tree trunk, but they aren’t ossified enough for her. She walked up and down the aisles bopping every pillow in the center. “No … No … No … No … I don’t think so.” Then she stopped. Had she found The One? “How can I be sure, Grammie?” I wanted to say, “Are you saying yes to the pillow?”

Turning around, I found her lying on the floor, cradling the pillow in her arms. A look of bliss came over her. She did look comfy, but how would the salespeople feel about her “Cozying it up” on the floor? A shopper came around the corner, and stared down at Mack. “Mackenzie!” she said cheerily, as though she always saw people on the floor testing out pillows. Mackenzie, still snuggled up with her pillow, said, “Oh hi, Mrs. S. Grammie, this is Mrs. S. Remember?” She had been one of Mackenzie’s pre-school teachers. It didn’t seem to bother her that Mackenzie was lying on the floor.

We’d been shopping, and needed lunch. I readied my coupons to use at the cash register, but a sweet salesperson said, “You save those. I have ones you can use.” We left the store with three shopping carts and 20 coupons for the next foray. That’s a good thing because Mack still has many things left to buy. I hope she can choose the next items in a vertical position.

I hope she won’t be so comfortable in the morning that she forgets to get out of bed to go to class.

community columns, by the way