On those hot, blustery days where the heat index tops out at 108 and you’re stuck in a dorm room, chilled to the bone thanks to the cranky thermostat you’re afraid to turn up in case you’ll never feel cool again, you need something to do. And it doesn’t matter that it’s Harry Potter Weekend, because that happens at least once a month and, besides, you can stream those movies online any damn time you want. What you can’t do any time is build a blanket fort. That requires a significant surplus of free time, an amenable roommate, and a damn good reason to not set foot outdoors for at least a few hours.
I firmly believe that you’re never too old for a blanket fort. What is a better well of childhood nostalgia? The only thing better about building blanket forts at 21 instead of 8 is that now your juice boxes can be alcoholic. But of course a blanket fort, like every good compound, needs a set of rules to operate by. With no further ado, the Blanket Fort Manifesto:
1) On Construction:
i. Though called a blanket fort, the actual materials used to construct the fortress can include: blankets, comforters, sheets, quilts, and throws. Pillows are acceptable, but should be limited to increasing comfort of in-fort activities (see section 3). And remember, a successful fort is one that blocks most, but not necessarily all, ambient light from outside of your citadel.
ii. Be smart when deciding on where to place your fort. If possible, it should be in the living room. However, if you are living in a dorm room, that might be impossible. If able, you should place your fort in the same room as a television. Then again, we live in the age of streaming video, so this isn’t really as necessary as it was a decade ago. You can just fire up your laptop and pull up your Netflix Instant. But don’t be that guy. You’re in it for the nostalgia, right? Hunker down with some of your favorite Disney movies. Your neck cramps won’t last forever.
iii. A blanket fort need not be a free-standing structure. Acceptable supports include, but are not limited to: couches, beds, chairs, desks, and dressers.
iv. Under no circumstances are you to use tape, glue, yarn, thread, clips, etc. to fasten blankets together. You’re better than that.
i. Comfort is the name of the game. Sleeping bags, couch cushions, and pillows can all be considered fair game.
ii. Proper lighting is important. As you don’t want a lot of ambient light filtering through your blankets and into the interior of your fort (that would show shoddy craftsmanship), you may find yourself wanting to see once you’re inside. As good at setting an atmosphere as candles can be, they’re fire hazards. Act accordingly. Battery powered lanterns, strategically placed flashlights, or that Yule log youtube video are excellent alternatives.
i. Blanket forts are most successful when built as an excuse to stay indoors. Periods of excessive heat or cold are perfect reasons. Doesn’t the thought of cozying up inside a blanket fort in the wake of a thunderstorm/blizzard/heat wave sound fantastic?
2) On the admission policy
- Be exclusive. You want your fort to be the coolest place you’ve ever imagined. Those daydreams you had of tree houses way back in the sixth grade? Well unless you’re the coolest parent ever, you probably don’t have one waiting in your future. This is your chance, buddy! Go crazy. It should be a privilege, nay an honor, to be invited into your fort. Invite visitors accordingly.
- Listen, this is your fort, your sanctuary. It’s a given that it will have limited square-footage that will rival the studio apartment you’re barely able to afford. Ergo, you can be as picky as you want. No boys allowed? Fine. No girls allowed? Okay then. No redheads? I don’t know who in their right mind would make that call, but sure, if that’s how you feel.
3) Acceptable In-Fort Activities
- Marathon movies and television shows. It’s absolutely a great idea.
- Cuddle. Admit it, a blanket fort is a small, cozy, dare I say intimate space. Chances are you can’t fit more than two people inside without resorting to close human contact regardless. It’s nice to cuddle with a good friend or significant other. But listen, you’re not a little kid anymore so if you want to make out in your blanket fort, go for it. Who’s going to stop you?
- Tell stories. Share your favorite misadventures, wait until 2am and make up scary ghost stories, reminisce about the recent past, and enrapture your friends with those wacky urban legends only people from your lost-on-the-map hometown have ever heard of.
- Play videogames. Scavenge your old Gameboy and pop in that Pokémon Blue you’ve been meaning to beat for a decade now. Set up the N64, crack a beer, and play Mario Kart. Let your boyfriend teach you how to play that first-person shooter you’ve never heard of before.
- Read. What a novel idea. Crack open a well-loved book or break the spine of a new one. Utilize your local library, or borrow a dog-eared, marked-up beater from a friend. Trudge your way through a classic or breeze through an easy-read. It doesn’t matter if you’re picking up a piece of literature you never actually got around to reading in high school English or that new Fug Girls book (which is great, btw), the point is you’re reading. I can’t endorse this activity enough.
- Set a time limit for your fort. Preferably no longer than 48. The fact that you only have so long to enjoy it makes your haven all the more magical. Nothing good lasts forever, right? Besides, if properly constructed, your fort is taking up a significant portion of your living space. You’ll probably be too tired come Monday morning to want to take precious time navigating your way around it while trying not to be late for work.