When my group of friends was going away to college, the mother of my friends Rik and Ash decided that we needed a tutorial on how to survive our university days. So she made us a video in order to teach us basic domestic survival skills. Of course, the whole thing was very tongue-in-cheek, and loving, but a little serious too.
At the time, our group of friends was called “The Brunch Faction,” and we had given all of our strong-willed, strict parents nicknames (sensing a trend with me here?). There was a legitimate reason for the “Brunch Faction” nickname, though. At some point during school, we’d all been a part of Société Honoraire de Français. And there had been a debate as to whether to hold the meetings during Lunch or Brunch (“Brunch” was our 15 minute, mid-morning break). Our campus was an open campus during lunch time, and I found the lunch proposal particularly objectionable because I had had an open fourth period for years, meaning I had a two hour long lunch break (not sure whether my parents ever knew that).
Another thing you should know is that our French class was tiny. We’d all taken French together for years, and most of us had travelled in Europe together by that point. The idea that we’d hold a meeting at lunch was patently ridiculous, because it would be like an extra period of French.
So our poor, beleaguered prof, Nance (we’d stopped calling her Madame years prior) was actually entertaining this debate, while Rik, Ash our friend Dawny and I led a vocal mutinous faction of Brunch meeting supporters. Hence, The Brunch Faction. I don’t recall whether we won or lost, but the nickname stuck. And during this “debate,” we developed a passion for creating propaganda posters.
Ash, who was and is a very good artist, one day made a poster depicting all of our parents, showing the nicknames we’d given them and solidifying the parental monikers. The parents had gone and done something — can’t recall what it was now — whatever it was, it was annoying, and parental. So this poster was very World War II-esque and showed each parent as a world dictator, and had printed in bold letters: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. Except Ash is not a good speller. So the poster actually said: RESTANCE IS FUTILE.
She has yet to live that one down.
Ash and Rik’s mother had been dubbed “Precious Mama H.” While the other nicknames have faded into oblivion (Restance, apparently, was not futile), “Precious Mama H” stuck. And it stuck fast. To this day, her daughters still refer to her as “Prec” (pronounced “Presh”). And to be honest, I don’t think I’ve thought of her as anything other than “Prec” in a very long time now, either.
So Prec made us a pre-university video, that showed us how to cook, how to clean, and how to make hospital corners on our dorm beds. I can’t remember anything else about that video, but the hospital corners thing stuck with me, and I think of her every single time I make my bed. (Thanks, Prec — this was obviously your intent!) My ex-husband grew to hate hospital corners; couldn’t stand to make the bed; felt he could never live up to my obsessive standards. This was how seriously I took my bed-making training.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I was wandering the Upper East Side in a bit of a stupor after a very weird week, and realized I needed to buy some new sheets. I ducked into Pottery Barn Teen, where they were having a bedding sale, and which sounds weird but they always have terrific sheets.
Can I help you? the salesgirl asked.
Yes, I replied, I’m looking for some queen-sized sheets? And can you tell me if these fit larger-sized mattresses, or if they’re meant to fit snugly?
Yes, she said, They do fit large mattresses. Like pillow-tops?
Yeah. You see, Prec taught me how to make hospital corners, and I kind of can’t live without them. So I need my sheets to be a bit long.
Once the words were out of my mouth, I became aware of how absofreakinglutely nuts I sounded. But hey, it had been that kind of week. So I quickly selected a (hideous) set of sheets, hurried to the counter — the salesgirl looking at me askance all the while — and high-tailed it out of there.
I may be crazy. But the sheets never come untucked on my bed. And when it comes to learning how to properly make a bed…restance is futile.