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Roommate School

Updated on September 27, 2014

A LabKitty PSA

If familiarity breeds contempt, then forced cohabitation is surely a gateway to mayhem. Yet, modern society all but demands this sordid practice. Whether you are a struggling student, starving artist, or just an average punter trying to make ends meet, you, too, will likely suffer the outrageous slings and arrows of a roommate. It is the modern equivalent of an arranged marriage, sans, thankfully, the marital duties.

LabKitty had a peach of a college roommate, but, alas, the post-graduation years saw us punished with a succession of crazed jackanapes. There was Bongo1, who Skill-sawed a hole in the living room wall for reasons unknown. Jeeter, who still has our mail, probably for voodooic purposes. And Shriekin' Deedee, who, well, set the building on fire.

Although this might be karmic revenge for some transgression in a previous life, there may be a simpler explanation. As a society, we teach people arithmetic. Teach them how to drive. Teach them to cook and to golf. Yet, nowhere do we teach people proper roommating. As if a lifetime of sociopathy will evaporate as soon as one is placed in a setting requiring self-restraint for the common good. Not so, as we can sadly attest (cf. previous paragraph).

Well, LabKitty is here to help.

ha ha, only serious
ha ha, only serious

Roommate School

Your parents may have found your little quirks endearing, but that was part of their job description. Now that you're living with real people you need to get yourself squared away. There is much work to do, and little time. How to proceed?

A Skinner box would be optimal but invites complications such as arrest, the cardiac as well as the other kind. And, we believe, wholly unnecessary. We here at LabKitty like to think people are basically rational, even if they generally aren't so in large groups (cf. Congress). Surely, everyone would be happy to put in a little self-examination time, especially if it keeps the rest of us in the lifeboat from smacking you with an oar and dumping you over the side.

In that spirit, we give you: ROOMMATE SCHOOL. A one-day intensive course providing guidelines on how to be a good roommate and/or neighbor, gleaned from our experiences with various and sundry edgy drifters we've been forced to share our sweet home with or next to. A collection of common sense tips, although the kind that may lead to fisticuffs if shrieked aloud post-hoc and in the flesh at 3 AM. But here, in the blessed anonymity of the internet, a mirror you can gaze darkly into and correct your multitude of flaws. For how can one ever hope to improve oneself if nobody points out your multitude of flaws? We guarantee your living arrangement will be the better for your efforts, or your money back.

Still, no need to thank us now. You can thank us when you get to the end of your co-habitation period and not once did you wake in the middle of the night only to find your roommate looming over you with a grim countenance and some sort of hacking implement. Like Plato said: Nosce te ipsum, which is Latin2 for "only a high water table kept you from becoming a missing persons report."

So, pull up a chair and a beverage, and let's get started.

pony up, plebe
pony up, plebe

Your half of the rent

Your parents probably didn't charge you rent when you lived with them, not if Child Services had anything to say about it. Ergo the concept of paying for the privilege of a locked door and holy buckets how can they charge that much in this neighborhood might be a new experience. But trust us, your landlord has been playing this game a lot longer than you have. S/he has lawyers on retainer and keys to your place, not to mention big beefy guys who will be happy to dump all your stuff on the curb for a six pack of Natty Lite the instant your rent becomes overdue. And if the landlord padlocks the place it ain't just going to be your stuff the beefs chuck out on the curb after they cull the good bits for themselves.

In short: Daddy ain't paying the bills anymore, we are. And by "we," we mean "you." Pony up.

not for you
not for you

Telling your-food from not your-food

When you were young and your heart was an open book, everything in the kitchen was fair game. Why? Because your parents put it there. Well, birds stuff worms down baby birds, yet that leaves them incompletely-prepared for the larger world once they leave the nest.

As the saying goes: when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And when all you have is a gullet, everything looks like your food. It isn't.

But how, you ask, how, How, HOW can I tell the difference? you cry out as you rend your garments (and, dammit, you better not be wearing our garments again). Simple test: if you don't know how it got there, it's not your food. You might want to consider writing that on the fridge in permanent marker. Otherwise your roomie might, and it ain't going to be on the fridge.

wakka wakka
wakka wakka

Nummy Noise: Symphony of the Damned

Speaking of food.

Somehow, the cave bears that raised you failed to pass along instructions on how to introduce nutrients into your head-hole without providing a running commentary. There was a time when the rest of the clan would have smoted you with cudgels and given your broken body to the earth. Not so in these enlightened times.

The Nummy Noise, as it is known, is just one instrument in the gustatory symphony you may be inflicting upon those in your vicinity. Also possible are various woodwinds and percussion -- an oral production of Stomp! offered up at mouth level every mealtime. This will neither win you friends nor influence people, at least not in the good way. Provide a performance at dinner with the boss and your career will be over before the dessert tray arrives. Stage a encore nightly with the roomies, and you'll be fortunate if only your career is ended.

So, simple test: Place a recording device on the table. Eat. Playback. If there is a soundtrack, then, yes, Houston, you have a problem. Time for a course alteration. Your mastication should be as elegant as an evening gown and as silent as the grave. Otherwise, it might be.


The acceptable music volume is headphone

On occasion (e.g., when Josie comes home), we'll mix in the street. Strike at the stroke of midnight. Dance on the bones 'till the girls say when. (Assuming of course, the neighborhood association was pre-notified and has approved the festivities.) But as a regular Saturday night thing (or regular any night thing)? Not so much.

Bottom line: nobody cares what you listen to -- Beethoven, Disco, Ice Milk, Japanese Noh, the soundtrack from Eraserhead -- just don't make the rest of us listen to it. Capisce? Someday when you have your own country estate out in the country then, sure, have at it. Invite the roadies over and dim the lights in the tri-state area as the local power station struggles to keep pace with the phat beats of your killa sound system. Until then, and as long as you live amongst us other monkeys, with our razor-sharp incisors and access to your food when you're not home, one word: headphones.

A marvelous device of sonic isolation that will allow you to experience your piercing highs and your boosted bottoms and the rest of us will be none-the-wiser. Feel free to wear them at home, at work, at play, on the bus. And, hey, audiophile bonus tip: even a modest set of ear buds will vastly improve your listening experience compared to the cellphone speaker currently set at maximum volume for the benefit of the other subway patrons.

boom, boom
boom, boom

Lights: How to turn them off

Our science-men and women have filled the world with many wonders: men on the moon, dune buggies on mars, cheese in a can. Add to this list: illumination that can be brought forth on command, without need of spark or flint or tinder.

But how, How, HOW is this majick unmade? we hear you ask. As surely as a bird does not rebecome egg, nor once fallen is a meteor returned to the firmament, how does one DE-illuminate? A right Pandora's box, it is not?

No, it is not.

Long story short: in 99% of devices, a light is turned OFF in the same manner in which it was turned ON. A twist of a switch requires a second twist. Viola! The curse is lifted. In a subset of wicked devices, the desired effect is effected by doing the opposite of that by which doth cause the refulgence to arrive. A switch, say, moved heaven-ward to bring illumination will when moved towards its earthy position staunch the flow of lighticules.

So simple, even a child can do it. You can too.

both alive and dead
both alive and dead

Schrodinger's Dog

Bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark.

Not that you would know. Why not? Because it only happens when you're not home. Hence the quantum mechanical paradox: if you were there so you could hear it, you wouldn't. But you aren't, so you can't. Science!

he chose wisely
he chose wisely

The roommate's mail goes to the roommate

Granted, much of what arrives is going in the trash anyway, like the 400% APR credit card offers and the epic stream of Time magazine reup demands because one time (one time!) we bought a subscription for grandma Nana. We do so appreciate your efforts to shield us from the unpleasantries of life. However, your efforts are, well, a little coarse-grained, finding as we regularly do our monthly Visa statement and the occasional jury duty notification (FINAL WARNING BEFORE AN ARREST WARRANT IS ISSUED) buried in the garbage underneath your empty cans of hobo beans and coffee grounds.

So, thanks and all, Jeeves, but we would really like our own crack at our mail.

Leave the spam filtering to Google.

kill it with fire
kill it with fire

Car alarms and you

A lawyer acquaintance (we hesitate to say "friend," akin to how the Don shunned Luca Brasi) informs us it is not (we repeat: NOT) legal to pour turpentine all over the car whose alarm has been going off every seven minutes for the last 36 hours while parked under your bedroom window and light it on fire.

Go figure.

Instead, let us use this painful episode as a teaching opportunity. Those of you versed in statistics might recognize an example of Type-I error. It's the beginning part of the Boy Who Cried Wolf story. The set-up, the establishing shot, as Syd Field would say. (Later, when the wolves come and nobody believes Boy's caterwauling, that is called Type-II error. But that is a story for another time.)

Here's the thing: because of Type-I error, there has never once, in the history of automotive history, ever been a car theft that was prevented by a car alarm. Ever. You have been suckered, sucker, and the rest of us are paying for your suckness.

So while it's not impossible that the local shadowy underworld of car thieves has, for reasons beyond all understanding, a burning lust for your '87 Chevette, it is far more likely that the rest of us have a burning lust to not hear your boss car alarm go off every time a kitten pads past the far side of the street. A burning lust that may one day manifest itself as a Flame Golem, if you catch our drift.

Bad things for 3 AM - A Poem by LabKitty

Vacuum cleaners sucking dirt

Late night gymnasts getting hurt

Game shows blasting from TVs

Trips to the emergency

Hammers banging on the walls

Vomiting in bathroom stalls

Screaming tantrums by your niece

Another visit from police

World of Warcraft guilding raids

Pogo sticks like cannonade

Unnerving bursts of small arms fire

Inspiration from The Wire

All these things - it's too damn late

They're what working people hate.


1. Names have been changed to yada yada. Also: roommates may be a composite of several roommates or have been otherwise altered for dramatic effect.

2. Accuracy of Latin translations not guaranteed.


All other weirdness (c) 2013-14, LabKitty Design


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