I Wanna Go Back To School

I have reached a particular point in my life – middle age – where I am beginning to feel warmly reminiscent of my college days. I studied chemical engineering and I have fond memories of 40-hour weeks of classes and laboratories, overdue assignments, and 60-hour weeks of partying.

My warmest fondest memory is that I met my wife at college, back when we were young, naïve early twenty-somethings. I am beginning to pine for these good old days and am considering going back to college to update my education. One thing that my wife has made absolutely clear, in no uncertain terms, is that should I choose to go back to school, I must restrict my pining to studying and forget about pining for young naïve early twenty-somethings.

In the spirit of compromise that is the cornerstone of a healthy, and safe, marriage, I have decided to postpone my return to school and get my wife to go back to school instead. This way, I can vicariously enjoy the benefits of studying again through the hard dedicated work of my wife, and impress my friends when I truthfully state that I am married to a college girl.

So this is how I found myself back on college campus with my wife today paying registration fees and shopping for books.

“It costs HOW MUCH for the first term?” was my initial reaction in front of the registrar’s desk.

“My entire first years tuition twenty years ago was the price of a no. 2 lead pencil compared to this,” I said to myself.

“What are they doing, installing a gold plated commode in the dean’s office?” was my snarky comment to the poor registrar who was just doing her job of fleecing us.

Ah well, I suppose the price today of a higher education is comparable to that of the large foreign SUV parked in my neighbors driveway.

Admission fees paid, we then ventured on to the bookstore. I semi-fondly recall the price of textbooks twenty years ago. I thought to myself then that if I ever wanted to become independently wealthy, all I would need to do is write a textbook and ensure, at gunpoint if necessary, that professors in every institution of higher learning required my textbook for their course.

“It costs HOW MUCH for that skinny little textbook?” I calmly asked my wife as she removed what appeared to be a church bulletin off the bookshelf.

“How many books are you going to need?” was my next query.

My wife scanned over her timetable and replied, “Oh, only about 16 or 30.”

The stinging sensation of smelling salts revived me from my prone position on the bookstore floor. After the bookstore staff receive assurances from my wife that I would not be accompanying her on any more book shopping excursions, they returned my credit card and let us go.

As is often the case as our loved ones go off to college, I felt that I had to lay down the law – which is available in textbook form for only $99.95 – as to what constitutes acceptable behavior from my college bound wife. For example:

•There is to be no studying in front of the television, even if Dr. Phil is on the Oprah show.

•There is to be no late night partying at the student publican house, especially on Friday nights when it is my turn to cook dinner.

We interrupt this column for my wife to point out that, with her being a college student, every weeknight is going to be my turn to cook dinner.

•There is to be no student activism like joining anti-globalization protesters to storm government offices in protest of greedy corporate executives raping the retirement plans of faithful employees. That will be my job.

Other than these rules, the only other thing that I expect is to be asked to be her date at her graduation prom.

Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.

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