Friday, September 08, 2006

I don't know what to tell you kids...

I have nothing new to report, and so in the interest of keeping up appearances and posting, I'm going to share a psychotic roommate story. (Kinda long. But I think it pays off in entertainment value!)

I have long declared that I have lived with some real loons in my day, from the diet nazi, who insisted that I was stealing her health foods from her, to the chronic slob who left a casserole dish of greenbean casserole unrefrigerated on our living room floor for over a month, to the strange hybrid of present-and-accounted-for-absentee roommate (x2), the nymphomaniac who brought her conquests home despite a shared bedroom, and the flat out undiagnosed schizophrenic who did her damndest to extracate me from my own life.

While I have good stories from all of these living situations, the last roommate I had generated BY FAR the most weird tales of any of them. We'll call this girl "Penny." Penny was the reason I have since elected to live alone. If you'd met Penny in the second half of our time together, you'd totally understand why I've forever been ruined on the idea of living with anyone. Several of you who know me personally CAN attest to Penny's particular brand of crazy, and the things I quietly put up with.

Penny and I met through mutual friends and both of us needed a roommate, because living in this city can get expensive. We'd met a few times and gone out for dinner and drinks a time or two, and through all of that she maintained a facade of normalcy that had me fooled long enough to sign a year-long lease.

Not long after we moved into our apartment we threw a little housewarming party. We stocked up on beer, cheap snack foods, and we called our friends. So one Friday night, we had probably about 40 people who rotated in and out of our apartment throughout the course of the evening. I'll go ahead and point out something that should be noted -- Penny adopted a totally different personality once there was free-flowing alcohol involved. And that alternate persona was not a pleasant one. I only learned of this fact at the time the first portion of this story took place... It was certainly the first red flag of things to come.

So as the liquor flowed, and friends came and went, there came a point late in the evening where the apartment was populated by roughly 10 of her friends and roughly 5 of mine. Her friends were listening to loud music in the living room which I totally anticipated but wasn't wholly feeling at the moment. And I found that all of my friends were hanging out in my shoebox of a bedroom. And so I went in to see how things were going for them. Seeing as these were my friends, I naturally became engaged in conversation with them. So that means that there were roughly 6 people packed into a tiny room that offered no seating other than my bed and the small amount of remaining floor space. Four of my friends lounged on my bed, one sat on the floor by the heater, and I sat on the floor by the door. Trying to understand what they were saying over the volume of the music pumping from the speakers a mere 10 yards away got to be a little irritating. So I did what most rational people would do. I closed the door and then resumed my seat in front of it. Fast forward about 30 minutes. The door was knocked on a few times and I had let people in and out as needed. All of a sudden I feel the door being forced open behind me. I hear my roommate screaming incoherently. I stand up and the door opens. It's Penny. And she is PISSED. I can't really understand what it is she's babbling about. I ask a few of her friends to decode what it is she is so upset about. None of them seem to know what is going on either. She rages on for another 15 minutes or so. And then she informs everyone that she is going to a country-western themed bar that everyone knows I abhor.

I ask a couple of her friends if they are going with her, and to keep an eye on her. I also ask them to figure out what the hell she's so upset about. So they leave. And after a few minutes of chatter with my friends, I found that Penny's screaming fit was a little too much of a buzzkill to overcome at such a late hour. Shortly thereafter my friends departed, leaving me alone in my apartment. I proceeded to clean up the mess left by our guests, and go to bed. In the morning I find that I am being treated to the silent treatment. She's clearly still mad.

At this point we hadn't been living together long enough for me to know how to handle the violent mood swings and the resulting irrational anger on her part, and so being the pacifist I am in a living situation, I just assumed blame for whatever the hell she was pissed about and let it go. You want to know what caused all the drama? She was pissed because I had closed my door. She felt that I was trying to convey that I was too good to socialize with her guests, despite the fact that a few of her guests had come in and hung out during the closed door period. The fact that I was leaning on the door when she tried to gain entry only cemented her anger. (Believe me, if there had been someplace else to sit, I'd have been there instead of against the door!)

I took the blame, said that I didn't mean it to be offensive, but if it was that I was sorry, and dropped it. She wanted to have some long drawn out fight about it, but I avoid the drama where and whenever I can. I got a 5 page letter about why she was so pissed. I told her again, "Fine. It's my fault. I apologized, and I'm done arguing about it." A few more days of silent treatment went by and when she saw it wasn't doing her any good because I wasn't going to fight she dropped it. Based on this experience, I figured that my way of dealing with her occasional irrationality had been successful. And so that's how I'd dealt with every roommate spat that transpired over the course of our lease. UNTIL.....

Penny's behavior was pretty much normal over the course of the first 6 months of the lease, minus the occasional alcohol-fueled rage that happened a couple of times, though none as "serious" as the first. At the 6 month mark however, things changed. Girl became unhinged! My friends asked me about it. They tried to understand what was going on. I couldn't tell them anything because I didn't get it either. I wasn't the only one to notice it, but I was the one who had to live with it. After 5 months of flat-out psychotic behavior, and my constant assumption of blame I'd had my fill. I was tired of always being the one at fault. I felt like I was accruing negative points on my soul for things that I didn't really do. And I got a little tired of it. And so it's mid April. One of my friends had a birthday the week right before the extended Easter weekend. I baked a cake on Thursday. After Friday classes I went home with the afforementioned friend to enjoy a few days of R&R and to celebrate Easter. (Mind you that once we come back from Easter break semester finals are imminent.) And while I was gone I left the portion of cake that we had not eaten in a covered pan on the kitchen counter. From what I gather this is not an altogether uncommon practice. We were only gone from midday Friday to Sunday evening.

Sunday evening, I bring my stuff in the back door. I sit it down in my bedroom. I go into the kitchen to fix a little dinner. I look down to see that there is a note resting on top of the COVERED cake pan. The note read:

Next time you bake something and leave town, maybe you should throw it away before leaving. We don't want to attract bugs or rodents.

(The note was brief but oozing with condescension.)

If there are two things I can't stand it's hypocrisy and condescension. And after 5 months of psychotic behavior I'd pretty much decided that I wasn't having it anymore. I mean I was gone for 2 days and left a cake IN A COVERED PAN on the counter. TWO DAYS!!!!

She wasn't around when I got the little note, and we had opposing schedules so I didn't see her until roughly Tuesday of the following week. In the meantime I had mentally filed away that little note she'd left.

It just so happened that on Tuesday she ordered pizza and breadsticks.

Wednesday night I come home from a long day at class followed by work, fix myself some dinner, go into my bedroom and decide that I need to do laundry. (I'm a late night launderer, and so I worked on my homework, did some reading, what have you, and heard Penny messing around in the kitchen.) While I was down in the laundry room with my first load she came out of her room and went to the bathroom. At roughly midnight when I was absolutely sure that she had gone to bed for the evening, I went to move laundry from the washer to the dryer. When I came back in I noticed something that I couldn't have been happier about. She left a plate of pizza, three breadsticks and a glass of koolaid (presumably a midnight snack) out on the counter. I waited until I had to go move laundry around again, just so I could be sure that she wasn't coming back for it. 45 minutes later it was still there. And my detest for hypocrisy and condescension compelled me to make my move!

I threw out the pizza and breadsticks. I dumped out the koolaid. I rinsed the dishes. I put them back on the counter exactly where Penny had left them. I penned a little note of my own. I laid it next to the plate.

If we are so very worried about the presence or the attraction of bugs and rodents, perhaps it would be better if we didn't leave out pizza, breadsticks, and koolaid for them to consume. Please don't worry your pretty little head about critters coming into our home, as I have taken the liberty of throwing away the items for you. I would hate to think that my allowing them to sit out after finding them in any way contributed to an infestation of our lovely apartment.


I went back into my bedroom and proceeded to fold my laundry while listening to iTunes on shuffle. A short while later I heard her get up to get what had become a customary 3AM drink of water. I sneered. I could feel her seething as she read the note on the other side of the wall. My blackened heart revelled in the sensation.

::Knock knock knock::

"Come in."

"Umm, what's this?"

"Umm, it looks to me like a note, and I am pretty sure you can read."

"Yeah, I see it's a note, what's the meaning of it?"

"It should be fairly obvious, I mean we just established you can read."

"I left that food out for like 2 hours. Not two days."

"Yeah, and I left out a cake. IN. A. COVERED. PAN. And since you felt a note was warranted for that, I felt a note was warranted for this."

A clearly indignant Penny shouts, "Well, I don't appreciate the snotty tone in the note."

"Really? Well I think we have just established that you don't like condescending notes any more than I do. Congratulations on learning that! If you have any other issues to discuss I'd think it would be better to approach me like a fucking adult."

"Well since you brought up other issues, we have to tell the landlord if we plan on moving out or staying... Clearly I won't be living here anymore, so you need to let them know what you're going to do."

"Well, I haven't decided just yet. When I do I'll call and let them know. Now if you'll excuse me, I have laundry to fold... (and with a wink and a smile) Have a nice night."

She slammed the door and I am not kidding, the instant the door closed iTunes shuffled to the most incredibly perfect song for that moment.

Ludacris - "Move, Bitch"

I have never felt more cosmically vindicated as I did by my iTunes at that exact moment. It really was a thing of beauty.

Believe me, there are plenty of psycho-Penny stories that transpired in that 5 month period that I'll save for a later date, but at least right now you get a pretty good idea of what we're dealing with.

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