Getting Along with Strangers

January 24, 2015

It’s not just college kids who have to get along with their roommates.  I attended a 5-night writing workshop without a buddy, and I agreed a roommate could be assigned to me. (Yes, I was too cheap to pay the additional $100 for a single.) What could go wrong in less than a week of sleeping in the same room with a stranger?


Shortly after I unpacked (saving three drawers in the six-drawer chest for my roommate), Barbara, arrived.  She was a small woman from Indiana, probably in her 70’s or early 80’s.  I introduced myself with a smile, “Hi, I am Nancy.”


Barbara immediately fluttered her hands and twittered, “Oooh, I have a Nancy.”  I watched in bewilderment as she hurried to open her purse and pulled out a stuffed toy animal—an orangutan named “Nancy.” 


She held "Nancy" up to her face and kissed her with loud smacks 3 or 4 times on her orange nose.  With care, she then leaned over and arranged Nancy on the pillow of her bed.



Wow.  This was different.  What had I gotten into here?


Every day Barbara carefully placed Nancy before she left the room.  During the day, when the beds were going to be made up, Nancy would sit on the bedside table, legs carefully crossed.



At night, Barbara and Nancy slept side by side or Barbara hugged Nancy to her.


Once I got over my initial surprise, I accepted Nancy, the orangutan in the room. And I learned something. I will no longer admonish my grandchildren, “Do you think you can sleep with that stuffed toy forever?  How will it look if you take Foxie or Blankie to college with you?” 


Apparently, it can be done.

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