Sunday, October 11, 2009

Girl Talk Thursday: Roommates

So, I love Girl Talk Thursday, and I'm in awe of the amazingly talented women who participate, and I had a vague idea that one day - you know, when I actually updated this blog more than once a month, or whenever I have a major assignment due - I might eventually pluck up the courage to join in.

Then I saw this week's topic: Roommates.


This year, after two years away from home, I transferred to a university in my hometown. There were a lot of reasons for this - some financial, some personal - but I won't lie, my roommate experience didn't exactly make me regret leaving. A tip for all those off to college: If you get told a person HARRASSED A GIRL SO MUCH SHE MOVED OUT OF THE DORMS AND LEFT THE UNIVERSITY, even if this information comes from the resident "off-her-meds chick", MAYBE CONSIDER NOT LIVING WITH THAT PERSON.

I was not so smart.

My first year I was lucky enough to get a single room, for which I was eternally thankful. I had a much harder time adjusting to being away from home than I thought I would, and it was so nice to be able to go to my room and shut out all the drama and bad food and just be alone for a while. When everyone was figuring out where they would live the following year, I wasn't sure what to do, and when Dan* asked me to move into a place with him and a few of his friends from high school, I thought, why not?

It started out easy enough. I was friends with his girlfriend, so the fact she slept every night at our place didn't bother me. Sure, he was loud and kind of gross, but I figured, he's a 19-year-old guy, what do you expect? And yeah, it was annoying that my bedroom was next to the bathroom - and underneath the living room - so I heard pretty much everything everyone did. But that's all part of the learning curve, right?

We had fun, and everyone was always teasing each other. In addition to Dan, there was a girl he went to high school with, Jenny, and her roommate from the previous year, Sarah. Jenny was really hardworking, but kind and friendly. Sarah was much more pragmatic, but a fantastic cook and really fun to hang out with (she's the one who introduced me to Buffy, for which I will be forever in her debt!). And then there was the girl we got to fill the spare room, Natalie. Natalie grew up on a farm and was pretty much the polar opposite of me in every way, but she seemed nice enough.

I'd noticed Dan's tendency to bear grudges and focus his hatred on one specific person a little the previous year, but it didn't seem like a big deal. The girl he had the major drama with that year also went to high-school with him, and I always thought she had a bit of a crush on him. So I figured it was old drama, and none of my business.

(Are you starting to think, 'God, you're stupid' yet? 'Cause I wasn't! I was blissfully unaware!)

You can probably see where this is going. For whatever reason, he decided I was going to be his next target. It started out innocuously enough - he'd eat my food, but I always did offer to share; he gave me a nickname I didn't really like, but I didn't protest; he'd always override my food preferences, but others often agreed with him - in short, nothing obvious until later.

I asked him to quit using the nickname, and I think that started it. Because would he quit? HELL NO. It escalated - pointed comments all the time, flat-out stealing of my food and alcohol, being deliberately loud in the living room when I was trying to sleep. He'd pile up his dishes and leave cups everywhere, then yell at me if I left a single utensil in the sink because the dishwasher was full. At one point, he even got his mother to call up and ask for me by that God-awful name (which by that point was enough to make me want to bash his head against a wall). Natalie, no doubt having assessed the situation much better than I had, quickly sided with him, and they became a tag-team that made my skin crawl. They'd either deliberately make comments, or pointedly ignore me. I spent most of last year in my room, because one or other of them always held court in the living room, and I was not welcome.

The situation went up and down - Dan is an incredibly selfish person, and he and Natalie would have silent fights every so often over God-knows-what. The whole situation reminded me so much of being five or six again, when your 'best friend' changed daily, and you never knew why. It was ridiculous, and I pointed this out many times, but apparently, six-year-olds can't see reason.

Eventually, of course, the year ended (THANK GOD) and everyone went home for the summer. When everyone went back to school, I heard that he and his girlfriend (who had decided to move in together) split up shortly after the semester began. He apparently came out and is dating a guy now, and his girlfriend is now stuck with all the rent on an apartment she couldn't afford in the first place. I'm breathing a sigh of relief I don't have to know, or care, about the drama anymore.


*His name was not Dan. Obviously. Part of me really wants to write his full name and all identifying details here, in the hope that one day, by some miraculous twist of fate, this blog will be so famous it will be the first hit on Google when you search for him, and he will be shunned, but despite all evidence to the contrary, I'm not actually crazy enough to think that won't reflect worse on me than on him. So yeah, call him Dan. Or the name of your obnoxious ex-boyfriend, or that kid who always picked on you in the first grade. In other words, when you read his name, you should want to hit him with a heavy object. I do. (Bitter? Not at all, why do you ask?)