Flashback: I'm a senior in high school and I've just been assigned my college freshman year roommate. It arrived in the mail as a single sheet of paper with her name, her phone number and the building in which we would share one of the most formative years of our lives, Roosevelt Hall. Her name was S, and we were going to be best. friends. There was no question in my mind. So I called her up: "Hi,S?! ThisisyourfutureroommateKatie, ohmygodwe'regoingtobebestfriends!!!! GhbfldckiginsAAAHHH!!" Or I'm sure that's how it sounded to S. And she was having none of it. S, as it turned out, was going through an anti-establishment phase (at least I assume it was a phase. Spoiler alert: I would not be around to find out.). I think I lost her at the words "student council." Or maybe it was "cheerleading." The two were probably equally offensive in her budding anarchist mind.
In any event, that first conversation crushed me. Obviously living with S was going to ruin my first year of college and probably my entire life (remember, I was 18 - drama was my lifeblood). In the weeks following that call (and a little AOL profile stalking that revealed S's interest in some forms of worship that my high-school self wasn't ready for) I would have given up a kidney to get a different roommate. But as fate would have it, I didn't need to part with either kidney. S had written to the university and successfully pleaded her case to live in special housing. LGBT housing. When I found out, I didn't give a hoot what kind of housing she was living in, I was just thrilled that it wasn't with me.
The upside of this story is that I ended up with the best roommate ever, Claudia. She was nice and fun and we're friends to this day. She gave me the recipe that I'm sharing right now (which I promise I'll get to) and the adorable lady ice cream scoop featured above. The downside is that S's special housing didn't work out.
Before the LGBT housing fell through though, S called me and asked if I would be willing to pretend to be her roommate when her parents dropped her off. Her plan was to come to my (formerly our) room in Roosevelt Hall, have her parents set her up, and then she would move her things to the LGBT housing. S's dad didn't know she was gay and S was afraid to tell him. My adult self wishes I could say that my teenage self was sensitive and sympathetic to S's situation. Instead, I was practical (and I'm being quite generous using that word). I pointed out that if Claudia and I were both there, it would be pretty obvious that there were two beds and three girls. Moreover, what would happen when they came to pick her up at Thanksgiving? Would we try to continue the 3 girls, 2 beds charade?
When the LGBT housing fell through, S ended up in some other random dorm and so didn't end up having to lie to her father. Whether S backed out of the housing because she didn't want to be open with her dad or whether it fell through for some other reason, I'll never know. I didn't ask. But I do know that she was very disappointed. Imagine living in a house where you can't be honest with a parent and then facing the prospect of going to live in place where you could just live openly and comfortably without thinking twice? S was no dummy - she had a merit scholarship - so I'm guessing she was feeling pretty desperate when she proposed the charade of still living together. And I think it was really a blow when she lost the LGBT housing. In any event, I have to imagine college was still a relief.
I'm not sure exactly why I tell this story. I suppose maybe just as a reminder of how hard it is to grow up, particularly when you feel as though you can't be yourself in your own house. And if you have your own kids, a reminder to both be sensitive and to teach them the same. For as much as I felt like S wasn't living up to my ideal roommate standards, I'm sure I wasn't living up to hers. She probably wanted less of a jibber-jabber airhead (I'm not afraid to admit that's probably how I sounded when we first spoke) and more of a person she could just relax around. Wherever S is now, I hope things are going well.
As I mentioned, I was extremely lucky with my replacement roomie, Claudia. She would speak Italian on the phone to her family (which I loved), kept me up-to-date on all the latest techno music, and introduced me to peanut butter and nutella sandwiches (yes, we really ate chocolate and peanut butter sandwiches). And more recently, she filled me in on affogato. "Affogato," which means "drowned" in Italian, is traditionally just ice cream with a shot of espresso over top. That's yummy enough in itself, but Claudia suggested the dessert as a brownie-sundae type of treat and that won me over completely. It's a super easy, but super classy dessert choice to serve at a dinner party. Dress it up by using stemless wine glasses or nice old-fashioned glasses.
1 box brownie mix, prepared as directed
coffee or vanilla ice cream
optional: Frangelico, Kahlua or other dessert liqueur
Bake brownies as directed. Place one brownie or two brownie bites in the bottom of a glass (the benefit of using a taller glass with two small brownies at the bottom is that it leaves the ice cream partly elevated from the hot coffee so that guests can mix in ice cream at their own pace). Scoop one scoop of ice cream on top of the brownies. Pour 3-4 tablespoons of espresso over the brownies and ice cream. For an adult treat, use half espresso and half liqueur. Enjoy.