Friday, January 15, 2010

The Nest Empties Yet Again...


For nature lovers, this season has brought the appearance of a special species, homo studentus universitatus, a.k.a. the college student on break.

This highly social creature, which travels in packs and leaves a trail of unwashed dishes, is apparently drawn to return every winter to its parental nest. Researchers speculate that it is attracted to large-screen TVs, down comforters and a ready supply of food.

The initial arrival of homo studentus in late December is heralded by the appearance of a large pile of dirty laundry. This is followed by other piles of shoes and clothes, as the denim-rumped primate marks its territory by covering all flat surfaces with its possessions. Within days, the floor of its den is nearly impassable, though interestingly, the creature itself seems not to notice.

It generally remains in its winter habitat through mid-January, displaying the characteristics that make it a particularly intriguing form of wildlife.

A nocturnal animal, homo studentus is rarely glimpsed before mid-afternoon. Observers are warned: Do not attempt to disturb it before it awakens, as it can become hostile.

Once it begins to stir, it generally moves slowly to the vicinity of a television and a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Again, do not approach it; at this point the creature appears to be unable to engage in conversation or even to hear sounds such as requests to walk the dog.

By late afternoon, however, homo studentus becomes fully conscious and begins to interact with other members of its species.

Homo studentus communicates largely by using its opposable thumbs for texting. The species' social structure is complex and communal. Individuals gather in collectives, similar to hives, with different individuals fulfilling specific roles. One may buy the beer; another may surf YouTube for funny videos of animals.

They will often congregate on sofas in family rooms, burrowing underneath fleece throws and blankets. The pack can grow so large and dense that it may be difficult to discern which feet belong to which body. Observers trying to track the populations are advised to count heads.

Homo studentus is an extremely intelligent species, judging by the creatures' GPAs, their verbal interactions and their speed with answers to "Jeopardy!" However, scientists are puzzled by their inability to fold blankets or put dishes into a dishwasher. It may be that their brains have evolved to specialize in such tasks as remembering lines from movies and applying to graduate school, to the detriment of those parts of the brain that are involved in such tasks as hanging clothes in a closet.

They appear to be cold-blooded, judging by the levels at which they set the thermostat. On the other hand, their preference for indoor heat may be a function of not paying for utilities.

Those who hope to observe this species closely can attract them by providing the right environment. Set out feeders, e.g. pizzas. Scatter indoor areas with pillows. Provide premium cable channels and potato chips. Stay out of sight and don't touch the remote.

You may not always see the creatures themselves, particularly if you sleep at night. Some people have gone days without seeing the examples of homo studentus that have taken up residence in their homes. Be patient, and look for signs: A profusion of hair-care products in your bathroom, perhaps, or tire tracks in the snow on your front lawn. Eventually, even the most elusive of the creatures will show themselves, if only to ask you to buy more Honey Nut Cheerios.

The rewards of the species' visit are substantial -- a window into a complex society, happy noise in a quiet house, an impressive library of funny animal videos and the way your credit card feels so vibrantly alive. Indeed, many wildlife watchers are reluctant to see the creatures depart, and abandon their roles as observers to hug and kiss the creatures.

But the homo studentus season is brief. No matter how much the creatures have enjoyed the family nest and the use of their own bathrooms, they will soon return to college. Nature lovers must put away their binoculars, turn down the thermostat and bide their time until spring migration.
By: Barbara Brotman
I wish it had been me!

35 comments:

Nurse Nancy said...

This is wonderful! Enjoy the empty nest again although I know you will be sad to see your students leave.

Caution Flag said...

This may be your best writing yet! Who knew your great talent could be found in nature writing?

I remember the anticipation and joy thinking about going home and then the anticipation and joy thinking about going back to school. It was good all the way around.

Debbie said...

BEST POST you've ever written Mama!!

Wow...I'm sharing this :)

Trisha said...

What a great description of this rare species!

Daryl said...

Brilliant job ... this is truly worthy of publication ... you need to get a job writing!!!!!

Ellen said...

Remember the picture of the front hallway of my house last May? I feel your pain.

noble pig said...

That is a perfect description! Spot on.

Patty said...

You are too funny, but you hit the nail directly on the head. LOL

mom x 2 said...

AWESOME post!!!

Is this what I have to look forward to? Some of it I am experiencing now... are you saying it gets worse?

Hope you enjoyed your winter break with them, even if only to buy Honey Nut Cheerios!

Keetha said...

Perfect! Right on.

Kind of makes me wish I were a homo studentus again.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

This is great. Just remember, an empty nest means more room for wine storage.

Lisa said...

Hysterical ... and too, too true! I'm so glad all those rare species that flocked to my place in the off season have grown older and found their very own nests to feather (and more).

Grandma J said...

Great post! It brings so many memories to the surface! I had four that went away to college, and the visits home with all the laundry was hmmmm...let's just say it's a whole lot funnier today than it was then.

kim-d said...

Wow! That is one genius piece of writing. I'm thinking that, to you, it seemed like the writing had been looking in your windows over the past few weeks.

Thanks for sharing!

Sara said...

Love. It.

Treasia Stepp said...

Thanks for making me laugh out loud this morning. I actually spewed coffee on my newly painted white desk. But it was so worth it. I've got to pass this on to some friends of mine.

Living on the Spit said...

What a wonderful post, MPM and yes, Spring hopes eternal and is right around the corner!!

Country Girl said...

Kudos to Barbara Brotman! She hit it right on the nail.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

This was great! U have a closet here that looks alot like that.
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big hair envy said...

Ahhhh, so THAT'S the creature I've read so much about in those college catalogs that have filled my post office box for the last six months!! Good to know...

Decadent Housewife said...

Aw Yes. The sights, sounds and smells of homo studentus univeritatus.

jojo said...

dang, this is funny. I remember those days too well...now the nest is empty all the time..*sigh*

Mary said...

OMG, that is too funny! And sadly true. :)

Deb said...

Oh, priceless!
It's tini time...

Nancy said...

This made me LOL! Anyone with returning college students could relate to this one. Right down to the Honey Nut Cheerios!

Lisa said...

Oh you got me!!!!! You little stinker! I really did enjoy it!

tattytiara said...

That was funny.

Hilary said...

Barbra sounds like she's been through this parenting gig. Fun post, MPM. :)

Egghead said...

This had me laughing out loud. It was reliving my life just a few weeks ago at Christmas time. Ha ha!

Tammy said...

I haven't had the homo studentus universitatus experience yet, but someday I will and now I will be prepared!

Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

What a wonderful post! Loved it!! Well done!

RiverPoet said...

LOL!!! That's probably the best thing I've read about college students. Wish I had written it, too!

Kathy G said...

I clicked over from Life In The Second Half, and I'm glad I did. I could so relate to all of this.

Son #1 graduated a couple of years ago, but I remember his breaks well. Winter ones were bearable, summer ones a bit worse, but the worst was when he was interning for an in-town company. We had the pleasure of his things scattered all over the house from mid-December through mid-August!

Joanie said...

This made me laugh out loud!

Flash Stitcher said...

Lucky Charms here and the thermostat @74.....GAH...never above 68 usually.