Darrell Huckaby - First apartments threaten caloric intake

This is the weekend when parents all over the region are packing up their sons and daughters and sending them - or more commonly, taking them back - to college.

Moving your child, especially if it is your first child, into a tiny cramped dormitory room can be a tough thing, and if you can do so without shedding a tear or two, well, you're tougher than me.

They say it gets a little easier after the first time, but I can testify that it doesn't get easier by much. And then comes that inevitable day when you head off to Atlanta or Athens or Milledgeville or Dahlonega or some other center of higher learning, cars and borrowed pick-ups piled high with crates and boxes, and the destination is no longer a solitary dormitory space, but that first apartment.

Such was my experience this week, and all I can say is, I hope he doesn't starve to death.

I am speaking now of my son, Jackson, who is about to begin his second year at UGA. Twelve months ago, Jackson was 6'4" tall and weighed 117 pounds. Now he is 6-5 and weighs 147 pounds. That's a pretty hefty increase in size for a 12-month period. It's about how much I gained on my last cruise, but still. I credit J. Michael Floyd, the University of Georgia's unparalleled food service director, who has been in charge of feeding most of my children for the past two or three years for Jackson's new-found girth.

But this week, like thousands of other parents, I moved Jackson into an apartment. For the next nine or 10 months, he will be on his own as far as his caloric and nutritional needs go. I shouldn't worry. He's almost 20 years old, and human beings have been hunting and gathering and scavenging for food for eons, but still.

I remember the day my buddies and I moved out of the dorms and into our own apartment. There were four of us in a two-bedroom unit at Calloway Garden Apartments, out on the Atlanta Highway. We were in unit R-7, to be exact, and if those walls could talk, my former roommates and I would still be paying hush money.

I also remember all the arguments we used to convince our parents that four 20-year-olds out on their own, a couple or three miles from campus, was a good thing.

"It will be easier to study if we aren't in a loud dormitory with all those immature freshmen who don't think about anything but partying."

Jackson didn't even bother with that argument. Neither of my parents had ever attended college or lived in a dormitory. Both of his have.

"It will be cheaper!"

Remember that one? Sure you do. Most of you used it yourself, and you probably put pencil to paper to make elaborate comparisons in an effort to prove your point. You tallied up the amount of the rent and divided it by the number of roommates and compared it with the base price for living on campus for two semesters. You neglected to include utilities and cable and Internet hookup - primarily because there was no Internet - and you probably left out the rent you'd have to pay for June, July and August, too.

If you did, you insisted that you would sub-let the place for the summer or, better yet, you would live in Athens all summer and work. Yeah. That was always a sound fiscal plan, because no one who works in Athens ever spends any money.

But the big money saver was always going to be food. "We'll share in the groceries and cook our own food and eat like kings for pennies a day." Yeah. Right. And I'm a midget Russian astronaut.

My buddies and I did cook. Twice. We cooked exactly two meals. And then the sink was full of dirty dishes and it was Poss's and Arby's for the rest of the year - and when we moved out in June, the dishes from the first two attempts at cooking were still in the sink.

Jackson won't be like me, though. He assures me that he and his two roommates, with the help of Meghan and Tori next door, will prepare nutritional and inexpensive meals every night, for the whole year, and save lots and lots of money.

Sure they will. And that Chinese gymnast who just lost her front tooth is really 16, too.

But, hey. You're only young once, right? So I moved him in and my lovely wife Lisa and the other mothers stocked the pantry with food and left little recipe cards on the counter, so now we will just sit back and hope for the best.

It will be fine. He'll be joining us at our tailgate every Saturday, and I don't think you can starve to death in the course of a week.

But just in case, I did put J. Michael Floyd's number on his iPhone.

Darrell huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.