My old roomie left me for the sunnier shores of homeownership. I found a new roommate on Roommates.com. I interviewed him. He seemed normal, aside from being a dude. I’d lived with a male “roommate” for years, so it didn’t bother me.
He signed a 6-month lease and moved in. And I realized soon that this guy was a total disaster. Not only was his “job” not real but he actually had no car. So he planted himself on my couch with his laptop and practically grew roots into the cushions. When he wasn’t on the couch he was making trips to the fridge for two Icehouse cans at a time – all day. Coupled with the pain meds for back pain from a car accident, he was a pure delight. He’d crank up Pearl Jam or Bob Dylan and in his late-night stupor he’d sing mournful songs directed at his soon-to-be-ex wife at full volume. My recycle bin was filled/emptied daily.
Here’s where his nickname comes in. Occasionally in addition to beer he’d top off his night with a few shots from a plastic handle of Vladimir vodka. Classy.
As if all that weren’t bad enough, he started hanging out with my next-door neighbor. You know, the one with the dog that has tried several times to attack Sugar, with the boyfriend who was on a first-name basis with the police? Yeah, them. ‘Cause they’re all unemployed, too. I would watch in amazement the interactions they would have, and the things he’d do. They didn’t want to go to Supercuts for haircuts, so cut each other’s hair (but only on the sides? The rest got longer, and stringier… see photo above). He actually found someone to date for a short stint. When it got warmer, his T-shirt sleeves disappeared and I never saw them again. One day I came home and he was in his boxers on my patio, drinking some sort of concoction from his giant monster truck insulated mug and sunning himself with a homemade reflecting screen (aluminum foil on a cardboard box). Oh, I shudder.
I stopped inviting anyone to my house because the one time I did, he kept stumbling in and out from the neighbors’ house, and at one point looked at my friends, hung a cigarette from his lip, and said, “You’re all… banished to the lithium mines.”
The day after he “accidentally took a muscle relaxer,” put some tomatoes on a cookie sheet in the oven, fell asleep on his laptop, fell asleep with his hand down the disposal, and then tried to boil water in a ceramic casserole dish, I handed him a 30-day notice to get out. He convinced me to let him stay. A few weeks after that, the riff-raff next door were involved, too, and then my upstairs neighbor complained about their noise. I’d had enough. I told him he had to get out.
Well, getting him to move out was, like a cycling buddy of mine would say, as easy as a three-legged dog burying a turd on a frozen lake.
I didn’t need the rent money as much as I needed him to get out of my house. And it took a damn long time. When he asked me for his security deposit back early so that he’d have a deposit to give someone else, I really started to worry he’d never get out. I eventually cut him a two-week break in rent if he’d be OUT by this past Saturday. That lit a fire under him, but it still took him FOUR DAYS to move his things out of the ONE ROOM he occupied. I sold him the mattress after I peeked in and saw he wasn’t using sheets. After the first day of “moving” (a few boxes into his mom’s car), he went next door for a party, but not without asking me first if he could have a Sharpie, because “one of the girls is going to draw a tattoo on my arm.”
I make a “face,” I’m told, when someone says something that I think is completely insane. Apparently I make a lot of “faces,” and I don’t know what this one looks like, but by people’s reactions to it I can guess it’s intense. Sherpa was there with me during the Sharpie incident, saw this, and probably would have laughed if I hadn’t been so flippin’ mad. This is why I could never win at poker.
Anyway, I have been a hot mess about the roommate. Like, seething in anger that someone could let their life go absolutely down the shitter, and make me uncomfortable in my own home. I’ve had more than one night plagued with nightmares about him.
But, as of last night, he handed over the key. I hope he’s able to get his life together. I just can’t be responsible for helping him do it. What did I learn? Pay for the background check. And last night, after I got the key back? An intense rush of relief washed over me. I managed to survive, and nothing got destroyed. And for now I’m going to take a break from roommates to “lick my wounds,” as my father said.