If you give a co-ed a chandelier

August 17, 2019


Whether it’s grandma’s silver gumbo spoons, a tiara or a spinning baton, Southern girls have always been drawn to sparkly things. That’s why the trend to “bling-up” the dormitories of co-eds around the South has taken off like wildfire. It’s yet another outlet for our love of all things pretty. But now, The Atlanta Symphony Showhouse looks like a shack compared to some of these dorm rooms. 

Middle school girls began hanging battery powered chandeliers in their hallway lockers, then grew up to want real chandeliers in their dorms so they wouldn’t feel like prison. From there, it was a slippery slope. 

The Kindergarten teachers are to blame for introducing the book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” — If you give a co-ed a chandelier, she’ll also want the matching sequined pillows, which will lead to a coordinating monogramed headboard, followed by handpainted lamps. Parents spend days arranging coffee stations, make-up caddies, laundry caddies, book caddies and what kind of cruel parent would forget a spinning shoe caddy? 

Roommates at the University of Georgia fussed over whose bed would be closer to the aromatherapy station. Sobbing, the young lady from Macon said, “It’s programed to give out puffs of “Eau de Pair-ee” every 92 minutes to remind us of Paris.” The roommate from Ellijay added, “We’ve never been to Paris, but the guy at the arts festival said it smells like roses and croissants and will help us study.” (Because everyone knows college girls smelling croissants always focus on their textbooks).  

When tool belt wearing Dads began rewiring the 50-year-old dorms for sparkly light fixtures, the Universities took issue, but the lighting companies quickly produced “pretend” chandeliers specifically allowed in dorms that dangle from a ceiling hook and plug into a wall outlet with a long cord. Electrical engineering students at Auburn kicked themselves for not thinking of it first. 

I remember my freshman roommate and I got busy with a $20 budget and had our room looking great in no time at all. A plywood shelf held the stereo to blast out Cyndi Lauper. My roommate had a poster of Tom Selleck and I had one of Christopher Reeve, and with those two staring at you in the morning, there was no need for further décor. 

If they’d invented dorm-room chandeliers when I was in college, you can bet I would have had one. But I can guarantee you, my parents wouldn’t have spent their vacation days to come install it for me.  I had to unpack my own clothes beneath a flickering florescent light and sit in a room with no coffee station, faux zebra rug or spinning shoe caddy. It’s a wonder I made it through the first night without hyperventilating. 

Years later, God gave me boys to take to college.

“We love you son.” 

“Mmm, love ya too.”

“Got everything you need?”

“Yes ma’am.” 

“Here’s $20. Take your roommate out for a burger tonight.”

“Thanks Dad.” 

Rumpling hair and kissing a cheek . . . “Bye kid.”

As we drove away, my eyes teared up, then I pulled out a notebook to sketch a few ideas for my son’s old bedroom. It will be my new mom-cave, with a chandelier. Because in the words of the famous philosopher I studied in college, “Girls just want to have fun.” 

This story first appeared in Alabama Media Group Newspapers.

  • Love this! How times have changed since my freshman year at Auburn, circa 1971! Iron beds with matching bedspreads and cheap throw rugs (aka, bath mats?) from Kmart?

  • Barbara McDonald says:

    I have two burning questions: What did those castle rooms look like at the end of the semester and 2. Did said princesses actually pass the semester?

    • Good questions! I’m guessing there were pizza crumbs stuck in that fluffy rug and wet towels flung over the designer chairs!

  • So funny, and yes sign me up for one of those chandeliers. I always worked move-in days. The poor dads would bring enough tools to build an entire new dorm. The girls and moms would unload enough shoes, dresses, and makeup to set up Macy’s. Funny I only saw them in PJs and Uggs after that (in class!). The boys’ parents would lug in golf clubs and ginormous televisions. I actually hauled a kayak up 3 flights of stairs and stuffed it in a closet. Mamas cried most when leaving their sons and daddies cried over their princesses. Then they wanted to know where the closest wine bar was located!! We need pictures of your girly cave when it’s done!

    • You have a very scientific first-hand view of move-in day! I wasn’t happy when my son’s roommate moved a giant flat screen TV in because I knew they would stay in their room playing video games and watching movies instead of socializing. We had a chat, and it worked itself out, but the roommate never left the dorm. Funny about the PJ’s and Uggs. Thanks Roxanne!

  • Aww, life as an empty nester can certainly start out rocky, sniffle sniffle, BUT I love how you are now going to have a girly girl Mom cave, aka indoor She-Shed with a chandy and other wonderous things! This is sure to dry your tears quickly, can’t wait to have a peek!!

    • The truth is, right now, the pipes burst in that room, so everything has been pulled out, including the carpet. It’s a total re-do at this point. Sigh . . . someday!

  • Great post, Leslie Anne. When my #2 went to college, the Mister spent most of his time on move-in day hanging pictures and assembling dressers, bookcases, etc. My girl’s window looked out on a courtyard. A cookout was being thrown for the frosh and parents. My husband looked down and said.. “you know who those people are? Boys and their parents.” We never did make it to the cookout.

    • That’s a very good story, and I’m sure your husband was correct! Thanks Katie!

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