I want to come clean about the fact that I was an abysmally shitty roommate. No, really! Let me start this by saying that I’m on the step of my 12 step male recovery program that has me taking ownership of my behavior and making amends. I’ve covered my ?spouse? (new term – ‘paraspouse’ didn’t fly) recently, and now I want to move on to those who bore my imprisoned wrath for simply existing in my space and disallowing me to be myself. Don’t worry, nothing terrible and hopefully if any of them should read this, they will get a nice chuckle, or come and burn my house down. Seriously though, I made Sheldon Cooper look absolutely delightful in comparison.
My first roommate ever was Paul in my freshman and sophomore year of college before we were discouraged from continued dorm residence after blowing up a toilet. Story for another day. Anyway, Paul is the only one who I don’t have to apologize to because I was too scared to fuck with him. Early in our freshman year I dropped a napkin on his side of the room (yes, we had tape a la Brady Bunch) and refused to pick it up. He felt the appropriate response was to wait for me to leave for classes and work, cancel his intended schedule, and focus on taking apart every single thing on my side of the room and reassembling it into a giant sculpture. Bed, desk, wardrobe, dresser, night table, everything. He even took every single little bulb out of my 10 strands of 100 count blinking Christmas lights. I decided not to screw with him at all after that, no matter how irritable I became.
The next two years I had a house with Paul and two other guys, Aaron and Jason. Jason we couldn’t stand for other reasons not trans related. At least there I had my own room with a door that locked, giving me some relief. Aaron and I had no stomach for Jason because he constantly did things like piss on the toilet seat, leave the burners of the stove on and take off for class, leave his keys in the door overnight (it was a really bad neighborhood), and create a gigantic mess wherever he went. We responded to this by piling all the household breakables in his room during parties (when he was of town), moving his entire room to the basement, or locking him in his room. Again, here I don’t feel I have to make amends because living in constant fear of burning to death, being murdered in my sleep, or stepping on a plate of cold lasagna he inexplicably left on the floor will do things to a person.
As Aaron and I made a good team, we decided to get a place together. This worked great at first, but my overwhelming desire to have him not be there got the better of me over time. To make it worse, he constantly had his gamer geek friends over while I smoldered sullenly in the living room wishing they would all die, or at least one of them would move out of their parent’s basement and provide a new venue for pretending to be elves or smurfs or whatever on a Saturday night. I subscribed Aaron to 17 Magazine as ‘Erin’, which offended him on two levels. One that they thought he was a girl, and the other that they kept sending him a bill. He’d call and cancel, to which I would write them as ‘Erin’ and claim my asshole brother kept canceling my subscription just to be mean, making Aaron’s efforts useless. Eventually it stopped coming after he refused to pay; disappointing because I loved reading them after rescuing them from the recycling. It probably dinged his credit some (not as much as abandoning the lease in the dead of night), so I will make amends by sending him some Mighty Taco next time it occurs to me. After he caught me, I went to ground and abandoned all efforts.
My next roommate was poor Jim in the Air Force. I arrived to my first duty station in a bad mood to begin with because I had by then realized that joining the military failed to cure me. It was made worse when I found I would have a roommate (bunk beds and all) after my recruiter promised me that could never, ever happen. I was not pleased. I feel bad for Jim because he was a nice guy and I really tried my best to make sure he hated life. We worked opposite shifts, which helped some, but I began by always falling asleep stretched out on his couch so he would have nowhere to sit when he got home from work. When that wasn’t enough, I took a page from Aaron and insisted on having huge groups of people over when I knew he wanted to sleep. He was a southerner and I was banking correctly on the fact that he was too polite to tell everyone to get the hell out.
What I actually feel I have to make amends for, however, is something different. My irritation with his presence was being exacerbated by the fact that nothing seemed to bother him. Not what I mentioned, or my other little petty torments such as a manufactured obsession to tape every episode of programs he was disinterested in, which effectively blocked him from ever watching TV. I was sitting there stewing one evening when the girl he had been pursuing called. He wasn’t there, I was in a mood, and improvised.
You know I’m really glad you and Jim seem to be hitting it off.
Cause, you know, a lot of women have a problem with his prosthetic ass and all.
Uh, what? No… come on, really? How would you even know?
He takes it off when he goes to take a shower and just leaves it sitting there on his bed. It’s got fake hair and everything. Kind of freaks me out.
Uh, just tell him I called.
Later that evening I got to listen to him frantically explain that he doesn’t have anything so ludicrously unlikely as a prosthetic ass. I don’t think he succeeded because I never heard about her again. A few weeks later he petitioned for and got his own room. I can’t say that is why, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt. In any event, I do feel bad about it, and if I ever manage to track him down, I’m totally going to treat him to whatever he wants at the nearest Friendly’s.
Final thought on the matter, just in case you are wondering, I pulled none of this crap on my ?spouse?. However clever I thought I was, she effectively destroyed me in every battle for household dominance hands down, and left me with zero impetus to engage in crafty little passive-aggressive maneuvers to get space. Well, that and I both wanted her there by choice and age has a way of putting new perspective on things.