Dorm Sweet Dorm

Miami Big U Dorm room
It’s bee a long haul to get here

This week I moved my son into his dorm at the University of Miami. It took us all of two minutes because he had one duffle bag of clothes, one MacBook, one backpack full of music and books, and four instruments (an alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet and flute). Now granted, we had to go to Target after that and drop a good chunk of change on sheets, towels, toiletries, and cleaning products (like laundry detergent to eventually wash the new sheets and towels—hopefully). But unpacking all of that once we schlepped it up to his 10th floor dorm room only took another 10 minutes, four of which encompassed making his bed and then standing back to admire our handiwork.

So all in all we spent probably less than 15 minutes setting up his dorm room.

That’s not to say my son and I didn’t have a few snafus. For example, when we were in Target he agonized over which bed-in-a-bag set to choose; 1970’s Paisleys or Tortured Soul Dark Blue Swirls. I kept leaving to get more stuff, thinking that when I returned he’d have it figured out. But when there was no decision by the third iteration of my coming and going I lost patience and snapped. “What the hell is the problem here, Betty? Just pick one!” All the other parents in the bedding aisle looked at me like I’d just beaten him with a mud stick. Apparently they don’t share my unique brand of parenting in which I call my sons by girl names when they frustrate me. Go figure.

He finally picked the paisleys.

We’re Not in Utah Anymore, Dorothy

Dorm room bedding
Just pick one, Betty!

I bring this up because I was stunned by the crap people lugged clear across the country and then dragged up to their kids’ dorm rooms, all in the name of ambiance and decor. Neither of which was achieved because in most cases the results looked like bad episodes of HGTV’s Design Wars.

I should have been suspicious when the first stop on our way into his dorm room was the CART AND HAND TRUCK CHECK-OUT stations. And might I add, these carts were so big a family of four could turn one upside down and comfortably camp in it.

But there’s a reason the carts are XXXL. It’s because they’re used to haul things like flat screen TVs, microwaves, stereo systems, mini-fridges, loft beds, area rugs, draperies, couches, wall art, and hammocks. I even saw a ¾ size grandfather clock go by. All this for dorm rooms that come fully furnished. Unless you don’t like the furnishings, then you can have them removed so you can add your own, at your own expense—hence the big-ass carts and hand trucks.

Many families had more than one cart full of crap for just one kid. I kept thinking that I’d inadvertently forgotten to sign up for something, because our relocation experience did not resemble a scene from The Grapes of Wrath. Nor was I dressed in the obligatory evening gown competition ensemble that most of the local South Beach moms donned while acting as foreman on these dorm room move-ins and remodeling jobs. (See my Facebook post of Tuesday, August 20, 2013. And if you’re not my friend on Facebook, then what the heck is wrong with you? Friend me now, people. We have a raucous good time on my page.)

Dorm Room Aftermath

If the move-ins were amusing, the outcomes were downright comical. Some of these rooms were so themed they could’ve come straight from a Hollywood back lot.

Dorm room
The final result (after much agonizing at Target)

Admittedly, the girls’ rooms were a little more over-the-top than the boys’ rooms, but that’s not to say the boys didn’t have their own flavors as well. My favorite was what I call the Unicorn Room. As expected, this was a girl’s abode in which everything had unicorns on it, from the bedding to the curtains to the newly installed wall-to-wall shag carpet. There was even a small pony-sized stuffed unicorn in the corner. Her roommate hadn’t checked in yet. I would’ve liked a front row seat to that first meeting.

Then there was the girl’s room that was totally decked out with bead curtains in the doorway, lava lamps, big furry beanbag chairs, and a huge mirror ball dangling from the center of a ring of track lighting that some dad had painstakingly installed. It looked like the Ikea version of Xanadu. I half expected to see Oliva Newton John to come skating out from under the bed.

On the boys floors there were several rooms with T & A and NASCAR posters adorning the walls, all set to a constant soundtrack of bands like Metallica and Rush. Those young gentlemen can just forget about the free condoms the school hands out like candy. They won’t be needing them.

But in the end my son and his roommate were a perfect match. They’re both low-key minimalist, sax players majoring in music, which means the limited space in their room will be taken up by reams of sheet music, instruments, gig bags, and music stands. An equally cluttered theme unto itself, however, it sure beats trying to figure out how to securely anchor a mirror ball into a 50-year-old stucco ceiling without it crashing down on some poor kid’s head in the night.

Yeah. At least I don’t have THAT to worry about.


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Stacy Dymalski is the host of the hilarious TV talk show “Mother Bloggers” on She’s also an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in bookstores and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.