"Housemate Wanted": Terrible Roomates and The Wise Move To Get Housing Insurance
Living Broke In A College Town And What It Gets You
I have paid a lot of dues in my life and one of those dues is being nearly broke and having to live with roommates. I have gone through just about every roommate scenario you can think of. Now that those days are over, I can tell my stories with humor. I think get the award for having had more roommates than anyone I know. One thing is for sure. I am never going back to a situation like that. My history speaks for itself. You can't control the actions of other humans-particularly transients in a college town.
The story begins innocently enough. My sister and her roommates were moving out of their three-bedroom apartment. It was in a great location in Burlington, Vermont, had two floors and seemed ideal. My sister arranged for one of her coworkers to move in, and her other roommate arranged for the third roommate-a guy. We were all going into this with a blank slate and were filled with optimism. Little did we know what the future held for us? In this story I will not go through every roommate I have ever had, because that could constitute an entire book. What I will do, however, is to recount the most memorable, for one reason or another.
Refrigerator Lock Box
1. The Dish-Phobic Platonic Husband
My Dish-Phobic Platonic Husband and I lived together the longest. And we were in it for better and for worse, which is why he occupies the top slot. We were all amateurs at the living together game. He was angry that he did not get to live on the top floor. He thought that his affiliation with one of the former house occupants guaranteed him first choice. But our third roommate, Bitchy Girl Who Kept to Herself got that room so that she could stay away from us.
My biggest complaint about Dish-Phobe was just that. He loved to eat, but refused to wash the dishes. I am the first person to admit I am a slob in many ways, but I usually wash my dishes immediately, and I keep my mess in my room most of the time. But he refused. And maybe I should label myself "Control Freak", because it really drove me bonkers when he left his dishes there for days. One day I had enough. I took all of his filthy dishes (most of which belonged to me.) I took them all and put them in the doorway of his room. An epic fight ensued. The end result was that he continued doing what he was doing and I washed them once in a while.
He also had no eye for dirt. Most of my roommates didn't. For some reason I was the only one to ever vacuum or mop. After a while I realized with all of the traffic, it wasn't worth it.
I call Dish-Phobe my platonic husband because we fought, made up, were allies, chose roommates together after Bitchy Girl Who Kept to Herself moved out, and solved many maintenance issues with the house we lived in because it was falling apart and the slumlord did nothing. We had raccoons above the porch. Birds living in the hole stuffed with insulation where a stovepipe was, birds in the rafters, pipes that froze and thieves who would come onto the porch at night that we sometimes had to chase away. We were together three years, and to this day, we keep in touch, at least via Facebook. So although he was a stubborn pain sometimes, he was okay. And he will recur throughout this story. In hindsight, we should have opted for some type of cheap housing insurance, but be were paying off students loans and could barely afford the rent.
2. Bitchy Girl Who Kept to Herself
First I will say the nice things about Bitchy Girl Who Kept To Herself (BGWKTH). She was clean, never cooked, was never around, and kept to herself. But you could tell that she hated me and tolerated Dish-Phobe and made a lot of racket having sexual relations with her obedient boyfriend. The racket was not entirely her fault. The house was falling apart so badly that any kind of movement in the house felt like an earthquake. In fact, one evening, when she and her boyfriend were making the house feel like 4 on the Richter scale, Dish-Phobe came in and asked, quite innocently, "Are we having an earthquake or tremors of some sort?" And my reply was, "Nope. BGWKTH and her boyfriend are just having sex". Dish-Phobe could not believe it.
Like most people when they get drunk, BGWKTH was a terribly inconsiderate person when she and was drinking stupid sweet drinks with her friends. They would spill sticky booze on the furniture, blankets and the floor and would knock over our possessions and break them. Dish-Phobe had lots of handmade pottery cups that were destroyed by BGWKTH and her crazy friends. When confronted with soiling things or breaking them, her reply was "What do you want me to do about it." Her dry-cleaning bill was steep.
Little did we realize that BGWKTH would be one our better roommates.
Eventually BGWKTH and I could not stand each other. We were passive aggressive at best. Dish-Phobe even told me to cool it.
But after a year, BGWKTH moved out. Meanwhile, I was in search of our next special roommate.
Doorknob That Locks-For Your Bedroom
This Could Also Happen
3.Chinese Graduate Student
I think the biggest thing I can say about Chinese Graduate Student, was that it was a big culture shock for everyone involved. Instead of advertising for a roommate in the local paper, I found a grad student from China who needed a place to live through my work at the local university. Dish-Phobe had no problem with this as long as she could pay the rent. He also took this as an opportunity to move upstairs to that coveted more private space where he could have large bowel movements and not be bothered to flush.
Chinese Graduate Student moved in with her clothes, a pot, a rice cooker and a few utensils. The first area of culture shock that we experienced was that she liked to be in close proximity to us. If we were sitting together in the living room, she always sat so that her body touched me. Not being used to this, it was annoying. And every time I drank a beer she would say "Another beer?" How annoying.
The other thing, again, not really her fault, was that at the time we had a land line in the middle of the living room and for some reason, she was always on the phone with her family. I guess this part is not a matter of culture at all, but she would be on the phone, literally for hours, talking at top of her lungs. She would also go into my room and borrow my crappy guitar without asking, prompting me to change the doorknob on my door so it locked.
One day, we all decided to watch a movie. It was on VHS, recorded by a friend. As the animated film ended, there was some static of some sort on the tape, and suddenly we were watching lesbian soft-core porn. Dish-Phobe and I started laughing. Then Chinese Graduate Student told us that she and some girlfriends had once rented a porno movie and then realized it involved bestiality. Dish-Phobe and I were appropriately shocked.
Eventually, Chinese Graduate Student realized that we were not the right roommates for her. We were coming to the same conclusion. We understood. I gave her my guitar, because she liked it, and I had no use for it, and then she moved in with some other Chinese Graduate Students, and there were no hard feelings. I still had to see her every day and it was cordial enough.
Cowboy was totally my fault. I call him cowboy because he had just moved to Vermont from Montana and looked and acted just like a cowboy. Dish-Phobe and I ran an ad that read, "Responsible housemate wanted. $385 rent and security. Available ASAP."
When he came to the house, that was it for me. I didn't tell Dish-Phobe, but I was in love. I insisted on meeting a few other less iconic-looking potentials, but in the end I called him. He said, "Did I get the job?" and I was like, "Yes, you survived the audition".
What I did not know at the time was that despite his beautiful looks, Cowboy was kind of a low life who took what he wanted from women when it suited him. Because I had a gorgeous guy in the house, I naturally gravitated towards him. On some evenings we would sit around drinking wine and having fun. I vamped up my cooking skills in the hopes of making him mine. Later, he ended up having me teach him to cook so he could impress other women. What an idiot I was.
He got a job as a taxi driver during the coldest winter months. Sometimes he would park his taxi at our house, and since he had to be near the radio, would turn it way up and pee behind our dumpster. This worked out great until the neighbors called the taxi company and told them how appalled they were at seeing this. This was the same winter that our pipes exploded and froze and the landlord was on vacation and couldn't be contacted. Both Cowboy and Dish-Phobe could care less. I, on the other hand, freaked because having water is essential and then there's the whole hygiene thing. Both of them said something to the effect of, "Boy if you can't handle this, you would be the first to die in a zombie apocalypse."
I ended up buying and boiling water to cleanse the dishes while the guys peed in the shower upstairs. The house ended up smelling like urine and I was really disgusted with everyone.
The last straw with cowboy was when his cab driving job began to affect me. Being the attractive guy that he was, he was approached by ALL women in general. One day, he had to take a local stripper from one stripper joint to another. She was all over him and wanted his phone number. Stupidly he gave her mine. This unleashed a daily barrage of phone calls.
"Hello-can I speak to Cow-boyyy".I said "No." After a while, he told me that he told her that he was married and that I did not appreciate the calls.
Dish-Phobe and I speculated that they had probably had some sexual relations of some sort.
One funny thing that I think is especially important to share is that Dish-Phobe, Cowboy and I always sat down to watch American Idol together. But they both gave me a stern warning not to tell anyone. That was almost like saying, "Go tell everyone", which I did.
After a couple of months, I suffered a devastating blow. Not only was Cowboy moving out, but so was Dish-Phobe. He had been accepted into a graduate program and was leaving. After that, I was running ads like a madwoman. At least he gave me ample notice. Cowboy just floated out in the spring the way he floated in during the fall.
Sluttiest Girl Ever
5. Sluttiest Girl In the World
Sluttiest Girl in the World turned out to be a surprise, because when she and her daddy came to look at the place she was adorable, demure, sweet and totally covered up. Boy is the saying true--never judge a book by the cover. She suggested we go out that night. I put on a semi-casual hippie-ish ensemble-considering it was Vermont, after all. Sluttiest Girl Ever decided to squeeze her 34 double F's into a tight corset with her boobs reigning supreme. Wherever we went, the guys all came slobbering over. It was quite embarrassing. She did not heed most of the gawkers. During our conversations I found out that she had just moved here from Boston and had had three abortions. I knew I had made a mistake right away.
Her idea of fun was pretty extreme. Although she had had a boyfriend for the last three years, she started dating a guy recently out of jail who liked smoking pot, drinking, and doing other drugs as much as she did. They would wake me up in the middle of the night due their vigorous sex. One day I pulled into the driveway just as the ex-convict was doing the same. He exited the car first, went up our back stairs and unlocked the door. Obviously she had given him a key and I went livid. "Why do you have a key to the house," I said, very confrontationally. He gave me the key, said sorry, and left. Later I asked my roommate what she was thinking when she was giving this guy with his particular past a key. She answered, "Because he drives me back and forth to school. I hate walking and needed him to get me something." She was a very conniving sort. Campus was not far away at all, but somehow the entire time she lived there, she had someone to give her a ride.
Although I told everyone who moved in that I didn't want lots of pot-smoking going on in the house, the girl who was living upstairs was a Trust-Fund Ivy League Drug Dealer Wannabe Deadhead, who helped supply the Sluttiest Girl Ever with pot.
There was a lot of pot smoking going on at the time for my liking. The neighbors downstairs; the neighbors next door; my roommates--and I hated smelling all the time. During my wilder days I may have been more down with it, but I was older and wiser in that regard at this particular time. I couldn't stand it. It was another little thing she didn't tell me until after she had moved in.
She was also a thief. She would steal my food and beer out of the fridge and I always found my grandmother's antique cookbook in her bedroom. I never understood why she felt the need to take the cookbook, unfortunately I sometimes went in there when she wasn’t around just to check and see what she might have taken from me. Her door was always open, besides. One day I also noticed that my little grill was not on my porch anymore, but in the backyard of the guy who sold her dope. I had to go into the yard, take the grill and lock it onto the porch with a bike lock. I seriously wanted to punch her.
She also exhibited anorexic tendencies. She worked out like a friend, and did not make herself more to eat than toast and ketchup. She had horrible breath and was also taking more painkillers than she was surprised for her broken arm. And she was really weird about her arm. When she first moved in she had it in a cast, with lots of metal sticking out supporting her arm. Eventually the apparatus was taken off her arm but she still had pain and exhausted every doctor’s patience with the enormous amount of painkillers she was more or less abusing. One day she had surgery on her wrist to fix something to do with her broken arm. That very night, she went out with her friends and got drunk. She was really hardcore. I asked her what she was thinking, but she said, it was not a big deal. Who was this person?
One day she got a job as a Jagermeister girl. That is a job in which you are a hot girl who wears sexy, skimpy Jagermeister promotional clothing, goes to bars and dispenses Jager from a machine that doles out pre-measured shots. I am not totally sure how it went down, but she was fired after only about a month for drinking too much of the Jager and sleeping with her customers.
Sluttiest Girl Ever made dumb decisions. There would always be a new guy knocking on the door. It was usually someone she had sex with in a parking lot. She actually admitted this to me. She always had to wiggle out of the way of guys who were obsessed with her. Her bedroom was a revolving door. She even was having sex with the guy next door in exchange for marijuana. He showed her how to unlock our door with a credit card. The charming part about that was that they used to have sex in her room with the door wide open. I would walk into the kitchen, right by her room and just go about my business. I don’t know if they did it on purpose just to mess with me, or because they just did not care. It was pretty nasty, at any rate.
Finally, her idiocy got the better of her. She got a DWI-and the best part was that she was not even driving. She was drunk and sitting in the driver's seat. The car moved a couple of inches. That was enough for the police to bust her.
I wish I could say I was sad to see her go, but I was busy trying to find other roommates to take her place. She left horrible marijuana resin-stains all over the rug, and I had to beg and wheedle the landlord to get a new rug so that someone would be willing to take the room. That was one of the only times he ever obliged. And luckily, the girl who moved into that room, whom I will refer to as Angel, painted the room immediately and we were close friends and allies pretty much instantly.
Hoarder was never very friendly to begin with. And when she first came to the apartment to take a look, I thought that she was the man, and that her boyfriend was the girl. It was all about the hairstyles, people. I don't care about sexual orientation.
Her story was that she was going to school for massage therapy. She had a massage table and a few clients that came to the house. She started out doing massage therapy, but by the time she moved out, she had quit massage school and was working at a Supermarket.
At the time I was lucky. I was on wonderful terms with our other roommate Angel who lived downstairs with me. We were good friends, hung out, joked, had our whiskey nights and shared our mutual feelings about hoarder. We had great boundaries and gave each other good advice.
Hoarder on the other hand turned out to be a total basket case and hated my guts after a particularly horrific incident involving our deteriorating house.
Angel, the good roommate, wasn't home during this event. Hoarder, who had gotten a job where she had to stand on her lazy feet all day, was sore and decided to take a bath. Unbeknownst to us, you could only fill up the bathtub to a certain level, or the water would start pouring into the kitchen through a little hole near the top of the tub. Well, Hoarder exceeded this level, and while I was cooking dinner, it started raining tub water into the kitchen. Naturally this freaked me out, having had frozen pipes and all kinds of water explosions during the years I had been living there. Not to mention, a landlord that did little to nothing to fix anything permanently. I ran upstairs and tried to tell her through the door what was going on. She couldn't hear me through the door. So I opened the door a crack and before I could tell her anything she was yelling at me for opening the door. I started yelling back that I didn't care about her nakedness, and I was more concerned that there was now an inch of water on the kitchen floor. She rolled her eyes and yelled at me to shut the door. It took her twenty minutes to finally come downstairs and see what had happened. I had my nice towels everywhere to sop up the mess. She shrugged her shoulders and went back upstairs. She ended up telling Angel how much she hated me because of that incident and she hated me even more because I liked to listen to Neil Young. From that point on I got a little passive aggressive and played Neil Young a bit more. And by the way, my towels were never very clean looking again.
By winter, long-since broken-up from the boyfriend she came to look at the house with, we discovered she had a new guy in her life. One morning, as I went to work, I noticed a bunch of loose tobacco and some rolling papers on the porch table. Later, I saw her come in with a chubby slob of a hipster who looked like he was trying to grow dreadlocks, but it was obvious that he didn’t know quite what he was doing when it came to growing dreadlocks.
Little by little, Angel and I noticed that he was always around. They cooked pizza together every night and didn't wash the pans for days. This made me (Control Freak) resort to hiding the pans in my room with the door locked. After all, all of the cook and dishware belonged to me and I was tired of my stuff getting ruined all of the time.
One morning, poor Angel had the unfortunate experience of waking up to the gross boyfriend cooking breakfast in his underwear. Together Hoarder and her boyfriend managed to spoil all of my cast iron cookware and I had to give them a lesson on how to care for cast iron.
The reason why I refer to this roommate as Hoarder concerns an episode that happened sometime that winter. Her mother moved to another house and all of her possessions had to be relocated. So she relocated them all to our attic, where her bedroom was. Besides the bedroom, the attic space was a common area. There was a large bathroom, an area where we store extra clothes and a study, with an extra bed and computer space.
Well, the day she moved her things in, the place looked like it was inhabited by homeless people. There was junk everywhere that was neither boxed, shelved nor in any state of organization whatsoever. It was also filthy, to say the least. Naturally, we couldn’t go up there without tripping, and if we wanted to use the bathroom, which was the big one in the house, we would often find the toilet un-flushed, as if to say, “You are not welcome here.” The worst part was when my mother came to visit. I was embarrassed and dreading the visit. She hated the house anyway. She thought it was a tinderbox that would catch fire and kill us all. She was probably right. Anyway, she came to stay for a few days, and when she realized that she would be staying in the bed upstairs, she had some choice words for Hoarder. And my mother was even sort of polite. She told Hoarder, “It looks pretty scary up here,” to which Hoarder replied, “I don’t have anywhere else to put it all.” The funniest part about this was when my mother offered to help her organize all of her junk and clean the upstairs. Hoarder didn’t want anything to do with that.
Not only was Hoarder hoarding all of her junk-she was also hoarding her boyfriend upstairs, which we found out about quickly. Angel and I had seen him enter the place plenty of times, but rarely did we see him exit. One day, when Angel and I were hanging out and Hoarder was at work, I suggested that he was probably hiding upstairs. Angel had previously asked Hoarder if he was living there, and her vague response was, "He's staying here awhile." When Angel finally told me this, I was so angry I wanted to rush upstairs and open the door and confront him, but Angel had another idea. She said, “Let's pretend to go upstairs, calling Hoarder's name and sounding very concerned, like the house is on fire or we are really worried about Hoarder. Then he would have to open the door and reveal himself.” We did exactly that. It took a lot of time and a lot of knocking, but he finally relented and opened the door. Next time we saw Hoarder, we said he had to get out or they had to pay more in rent.
She did not respond for a while, but acted out in aggressive ways. One day, it was about 1 degree Fahrenheit. Angel and I came home at about the same time that day and we noticed that the door was wide open and the heat was off. We walked upstairs and around the house. It was so cold, that we figured that the house had been open since the morning. Under those conditions, the pipes could have frozen.
Angel confronted her, because, of course, I would have just choked Hoarder. I wanted her out of the house. Russia wasn't far enough away for my taste. Angel was able to translate my rage into diplomatic language. "Hoarder, I noticed that when I got home today the door was open. Do you know anything about that?" Hoarder said "No", and kept walking upstairs wearing a ridiculous butterfly backpack.
After that incident, three things fell apart. Angel suffered an unsettling incident. Some of the people who lived next door and below us were shady. They all sold and bought drugs and knew we kept our distance and had called the cops on them for noise pollution. Angel had just gotten brand-new snow tires and one morning she went out to her car and noticed that all four tires were flat. About the time she was noticing the flat tires; one of the motley crew of shady people came over to her and said something that gave her the creeps. Something about how he heard the sound of air coming out of the tires and that she ought to watch out. Angel never felt the same about living there after that. It was the combination of the ramshackle house, feeling unsettled about the neighbors and probably just being sick of the living arrangement. I was very sad, but understood. It had been brewing for a while.
Losing Angel in March was bad enough. I hated looking for new roommates. Then suddenly, Hoarder said she was moving out at the same time. I was freaked out for a day or two until one of the professors I worked for offered me her condo for $550 a month for a year and a half when she went on sabbatical in two months. I couldn't believe it! Although I would miss Angel, I wouldn't have minded throwing Hoarder off a cliff. And when the day before she was to move arrived, and she still hadn't moved her junk, I called the landlord and showed him the mess. That was a moot point, however, because somehow, in the middle of the night, without my hearing a peep, she moved everything out of the house. It was amazing. Anyway, I ended up finding a very sweet girl to live with during the last two months. I sucked it up financially and paid the landlord the difference. No way was I going through the whole third roommate thing again.
When I finally got to my own condo, it was like heaven. I bought new, clean towels, arranged my things the way I wanted, got rid of a lot of stuff. My landlord quickly sold the house after we left. Turns out it was bought by the husband of an acquaintance. One day Angel went to our old place to see if there was any old mail for her sitting in the mailbox. Out of curiosity, she went up the back stairs to see the old apartment. I had been gutted and refurbished. There were new cabinets, slate counters and hardwood floors. She was pretty flabbergasted.
No More Housemate Needed
I wish I could have written more roommate anecdotes. I have learned a lot about my fellow humans as a result of all of the roommates. I have had about 17 roommates in total. I can't say that my behavior was always perfect, and our phlegmatic landlord did not bother fixing things unless the Code Enforcement people were after him. There were many more things that went on when we lived there, but these are the most memorable events. I am now out of that situation and hope never to be there again. I remain close friends with three of my old roommates, but whenever I visit Vermont and drive by that old house, I think of all of the stress and struggles I experienced living with crazy people, being poor, and having a landlord who did nothing.
As it is, I think the Academy Award for Worst Roommate is a toss-up between Sluttiest Girl in the World or Hoarder. What do you think? Please vote. Thanks for reading!