I wonder why these nursing students are smiling. They are hanging out in their room at the nurses’ dormitory. Don’t they look sweet and demure? That’s probably because the housemother was standing in the room. I bet these ladies could tell you some intriguing stories about what it’s like to live in the dormitory, but there are some things best left unsaid. Silence is golden, especially when your housemother is within earshot.

I lived in a nursing dormitory while I attended a three year nursing school in the Midwest. I won’t tell you what state it was in because I don’t want to incriminate anyone. Every resident was expected to follow the dormitory rules. The number one rule was that no man could step foot in the inner sanctum of the dormitory. That meant that no males could go past the housemother’s desk. Suitors and other male visitors were only allowed to visit in the parlor under the watchful eye of the housemother. She was a tough chaperon. There was to be no hanky panky when young men came calling. Few males were ever allowed past the housemother’s desk. Exceptions were made when a girl needed help carrying heavy objects, like suitcases, up the staircase. The housemother walked the gentleman up the steps and yelled, “MAN ON THE FLOOR” when they reached the top of the staircase. Then she escorted him to the girl’s room, and then back down the steps again. In three years my father and my brother were the only men who ever saw the inside of my room.

We weren’t angels. Sometimes we broke the rules when the housemother wasn’t looking. On one occasion a young man made it all the way up into a girl’s room. He crawled in a third story window via the fire escape on a dark and snowy night. The boy was half way up the fire escape when he slipped on a patch of ice. He started to fall and then, from out of no where, a beam of light guided him up the rest of the steps. A hospital security guard who was watching the escapade switched on his flashlight when the boy slipped. He told the young suitor to get out of his girlfriend’s room before the housemother woke up in the morning.

Maybe that’s why those three nursing students are smiling. There’s a man under their bed.